Fox Photography's Wedding & Engagement shoot Guide
We have put together a guide with various tips, advice and general FAQs you might have, which we hope will help you plan your day!
Please note that this document discusses our recommendations only and we understand that every couple and every wedding is different, so don’t worry if you have different plans! We will make sure we work with you before the day so we understand what you want and what we can do for you on your special day.
Lighting & Time of Day
The best time to shoot is very early in the morning as the sun is rising, or 60 minutes before the sun starts to set. Of course due to individual timetables on the day of the wedding, this isn’t always possible, but for engagement shoots there is usually more flexibility, so we recommend scheduling the engagement shoots later on in the day or evening, depending on the time of year.
Reasons to avoid shooting around noon/early afternoon when the sun is highest;
There will be harsh shadows.
Sweating will make you feel uncomfortable.
Hair and Makeup may be affected.
Sun blindness, which will show in photos if people scrunching their faces due to the bright sun.
Solutions if you do not have flexibility on timing on your wedding day;
Consider an indoor location for part of the shoot.
If outdoors, ensure there is access to full shade (not speckled shade).
Consider having a short session in the evening, if there is time, in addition to the main session.
Shooting in different weather - Weddings & Engagements
You can predict the weather based on the forecast but as we all know the forecast is not always correct! Whatever the weather is like on your wedding day, the best thing to do is not worry too much and bear in mind that we can still accommodate the weather and get some great shots!
What if it rains? Consider indoor locations, clear umbrellas, coloured umbrellas and rain boots to match your scheme.
What if the weather is too cold? If you don’t want to wear coats in your shots, then you can wear them in between shooting. Feel free to bring someone along to the engagement shoot if that would make it easier to hold layers. You can also consider shooting indoors as a back up.
Why do an engagement shoot?
Speaking as both photographers and a married couple who also went through this, we feel the engagement shoot is so important so we do encourage our couples to look into booking one of these sessions.
We like to build a relationship with our clients and the engagement shoot is a great way in helping us get to know you better and for you to get to know us.
If you are still unsure of whether you want an engagement shoot, here are some of the reasons we highly recommend the shoot;
Not everyone has had a professional shoot with their partner or a professional shoot at all so it gives you both practice and a chance to get used to being in front of the camera together.
You will get a chance to see how we work so you know what to expect on the day.
It will give you another chance to talk through any questions you might have and discuss timing and the schedule on your wedding day.
Some people like to test run locations they might want to use on their wedding day.
If you need photos for ‘Save the Dates’ or wedding websites, the photos from the engagement shoot would be perfect for these.
You will be more relaxed on your day if you have already had practice and had the chance to get to know us and see how we work.
Choosing a Location
When choosing the location, keep in mind that this choice will determine the overall look of your photos. Check out our ‘Couples and Engagements’ section on our website to see the different engagement locations and looks.
We also have a list of some of the popular Toronto locations for engagement photography but this is by no means an extensive list and will not include all locations. If there is a location you want which is not included, please ask us!
When choosing a location you might want to consider the following;
Some places require a photography permit which can range from around $130 upwards.
Keep in mind that some locations are busier and full of people during certain times.
Indoor shoots are a great option especially in winter, however if you choose to have the shoot in your own home, the photos will turn out best if you have a lot of light in your home. A lot of people choose to have their 'home' shoot in an air bnb or home style studio location. Ask us if you would be interested in these options!
What to wear during your engagement shoot
Once you have chosen your location, feel free to send us photos of a few outfit choices and we can advise on which outfit(s) we think will photograph well!
Firstly, always make sure you are comfortable in whatever you choose to wear. If you don’t feel comfortable, you will not look comfortable.
If you choose to wear makeup, the engagement shoot is a great opportunity to test out your free makeup trial that a lot of makeup artists will offer if you hire them for a wedding. Not only will it give you more of an idea on timing, but you will also be able to see how the makeup photographs. A good makeup artist will enhance your natural beauty and they also know how makeup will photograph compared to how it looks in person. Sometimes features, such as eyes, can get lost in photographs, and a good makeup artist will know how to enhance your features for photos.
Choose your look (casual, formal, etc.) and ensure your outfits compliment each other.
You can choose same colours or choose different colours that will compliment each other
Recommendations for Formal/ Dressy Engagement Shoots
We personally LOVE formal engagement shoots. You probably already have photos of each other in your every day clothes so the engagement session is a great excuse to dress up and have fun!
We've created a Pinterest board with some great formal engagement look. Click here to see the board.
Recommendations for more casual and less formal Engagement shoots
Neutral colours (light greys, whites) and block colours work well for casual engagement shoots, but it will also depend on the location of your shoot.
Pastel and pale colours also work well (pale pinks, blush, blue).
Deep colours for example deep reds.
Unless you are going for a formal look, we usually (but not always) advise against black tops (black pants, dark jeans are fine if teamed with a different colour top). Heavy patterns don’t always photograph well but it does depend.
What is included in our engagement shoots
1 location in Toronto (please let us know if you want another location outside of Toronto or an area of Toronto with more than one location).
Sessions usually last around an hour but this can vary according to various factors including weather and chosen location.
40-50 images (digital edited images) are provided to the couple.
Potential additional costs, if you wanted something different to the above mentioned could include;
If you wanted more locations and more time. For example 4 locations over 4 hours.
A location outside of Toronto may incur an additional fee.
If you wanted your engagement shoot at a location which requires a permit, this would not be an additional fee billed by us, but by the city’s permit office to the couple. The couple would need to obtain the permit directly from the city.
Your Wedding Day
Overall look of your wedding
The overall look of your weddings can change dramatically depending on three things - colours, light and location
Lighter colours (attire and decoration) can affect the overall look of the wedding. If you are looking for a very bright look, consider lighter colours for bridesmaid dresses and even light grey suits.
Even if you choose darker colours, if you have a lighter colours at the venue / there is a lot of light then you can still achieve this 'brighter' look.
Outdoor white canopy venues and bright receptions may have a different look to darker retro-rustic locations. We have a variety in our portfolio so please take a look at some of our galleries!
We don't always have control over light, especially outdoor lighting. Overcast weather, sunshine, snow and sunset can all have an effect on the overall look but all can look beautiful. If you would like a certain look we can accommodate that into the schedule (for example sunset photos)
We work with all types of lighting when it comes to reception venues. We have worked with rustic cellar venues as well as outdoor locations.
Tell us which of our galleries you love!
Although we can't always control light and weather, it's really important that you tell us which galleries you like in our portfolio so we know the overall look you are hoping for!
Okay… let’s talk about fake tan/spray tans. Of course everyone knows you have to be careful with this if you are wearing white. You will look gorgeous without, but if you want to do this for your wedding day or engagement, please please please think about the following;
● It may not look orange in real life, but it can look orange in photos, especially if one of you is wearing it and one isn’t. So do a trial and take photos to check how it looks in photos.
● You get a spray tan a few days before a shoot. You also wash your hands often, use them etc which means the tan will come off. I will do my best when editing but it’s sometimes unavoidable, and hands will look white/a different colour compared to arms and the rest because of this fade.
● If your skin is a different tone due to the spray tan, make sure your foundation matches, especially if you had a make up trial in a different season or pre tanning (fake or real).
Hair & Makeup
It is completely up to you whether you choose to get your hair and makeup done professionally. Although not required, we do recommend that you get your makeup professionally done for your wedding day for various reasons;
● Less stress for you on the day if a professional is taking care of the makeup for you.
● ‘Photography makeup’ is very different to everyday makeup. A good, professional makeup artist will understand how to apply makeup that will look the best on camera.
● A professional should have the right products suitable for your wedding (resistant, longwearing, etc).
You should definitely book a trial to make sure you are happy with your makeup artist and perhaps time the trial in line with your engagement shoot so you can get an idea with how it will look on your wedding day!
Of course you should always do what you feel comfortable with doing!
How many hours are needed for photos?
Note - this is a general guideline only and as mentioned above, we understand that every couple and every wedding is unique.
Getting ready photos
Timing: Minimum 1.5 hours (depending on what you want captured).
Details: Dress and accessories, details, couple getting ready, Wedding party getting ready, Bridal portraits, before the ceremony wedding party portraits.
Notes: Some couples prefer to take photos from the start, others prefer the photos to start once the makeup has been done. The coverage is up to each couple’s preference. Generally speaking, Michelle will stay with one of you and Dan will stay with the other during this period.
First look (optional)
Takes place before the ceremony. If you want something creative, think long spaces, open spaces, staircases.
Timing: Depends on the ceremony.
Notes: The photographers should ensure that they are aware of any potential restrictions that some venues may enforce (such as restrictions on flash photography).
Family portraits/Wedding party portraits
Timing: 30 minutes (but this depends on how many group family shots).
Notes: If there are a few group shots you want, we would recommend allocating someone to manage the group list (someone like a family member, chief bridesmaid, best man). If this person knows who needs to be in each photo, they can call them over more efficiently than we might, which is helpful especially if there are a lot of group shots and we are sticking to a tight schedule. Tip - make sure that the portraits are taken away from other guests otherwise we find our subjects get distracted by the guests and everyone is looking in different directions!
Timing: Recommendation is minimum 1.5 hours shooting time and anything up to 2-3 hours (depending on how many locations and travel time in between locations).
Details: Probably the most important session of the day so make sure enough time is allocated to the Couple session (session with just the two of you). If you do this session after the ceremony, take into account delays with the ceremony, potential delays arriving at the venue and guests wanting to congratulate you after the ceremony, which may delay and eat into your photo session time.
Timing: Varies as it depends on what the couple would like covered - just make sure everything you want captured is scheduled with plenty of time before we leave!
Details: Includes, but not limited to Reception details (decorations, cake, food) First Dance, Speeches, Cake cutting, Bouquet throw, Garter throw, guests dancing.
Notes: In our experience, most couples do not need us for the entire time, so timing wise you would need to think about what you wanted us to capture - maybe you just want us for the main events, or just until the guests start dancing. It is completely up to you! If you also wanted some night time shots with just the the two of you, let us know so we can factor this into the time slot. You also won't need us too long after the dance floor opens up (assuming everyone dances when they are meant to)!
Other factors which may affect timing
● Travel time between locations.
● Number of family shots and size of the group shots during the portrait sessions.
● Videographers - both photographers and videographers may need additional time shooting if shooting the same session to give the other a chance to capture the moments. As an example, we have had instances where we have had to wait for the videographer to finish capturing some details before we can then do the same (and vice versa).
● Running late! Anticipate a potential delay as delays may happen out of your control.
We often get asked if you need to provide a shot list. If you want to, you can, however we would ask that if you wish to do this that you take into account a few things;
A couple of requests here and there are no problem at all but we understand that should you choose to hire us, you are choosing us because you like our style and the way we shoot. We ask that you trust us in this respect so we can ensure that moments aren't missed, because we are too busy concentrating on an extensive list.
We will make an effort to take specifically requested shots but as weddings are uncontrollable and unpredictable events, we cannot guarantee that a specifically requested shot will be taken and/or delivered.
By all means have a shot list for the family portraits and other group photos so you remember which photos you want for these posed photos. For example photos with the couple and parents, couple and siblings, couple and bridesmaids, etc. However, we would recommend allocating someone to manage the group list (someone like a family member, chief bridesmaid, best man). If this person knows who needs to be in each photo, they can call them over more efficiently than we might, which is helpful, especially if there are a lot of group shots and we are sticking to a tight schedule.
Choosing a Location - Getting ready photos, Couple sessions, wedding party sessions, etc
As mentioned above, some locations require a photography permit. It is the responsibility of the couple to obtain the necessary permits but some locations will include this if you are booking the wedding in the same grounds.
Getting Ready Photos
● If you have the choice, choose somewhere where there is plenty of natural light (although we can and have worked with this if there isn’t).
● Something as simple as the colours of the walls and curtains can affect the overall look, for example white walls in hotels will photograph very well compared to other colours.
● Make sure there is plenty of space so the area doesn’t look too cluttered in photos
● Make sure you declutter the room (keep empty bottles, bags, etc. out of sight)
We’ve mentioned earlier that this is probably one of the most, if not the most, important session of the day. These are the photos of the two of you and taken at a time where the two of you can relax, spend some time with each other and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the day!
● Just like the engagement shoot, the location you choose will determine the overall look of your photos.
● If the area you choose is too small, bear in mind that you might not get a variety of different shots.
● Keep in mind travel and time if you are having your session away from the ceremony/reception location.
● Keep in mind travel and time if you choose more than one location for the session (and anticipate any potential delays).
Bucket List Locations and Destination shoots
If you want your engagement shoot or even your wedding at an exotic location, ask us for our travel dates! We travel back home to Europe a lot so if you plan your engagement shoot or elopement while we are in Europe (or across Canada) we can waive the travel fee. There are also discounts available for our 'bucket list' locations!
Wardrobe - Allocate one person to make sure your dress/ train is in position, if applicable. We can assist with this during photo sessions but we may not be able to reach you during some parts of the day, such as the ceremony.
Posture - Try to relax or it will show in photos. A lot of people (us included!) do not have great posture and one of the most common things people need to watch is keeping their shoulders back (imagine you are constantly puffing out your chest)!
Delays - In our experience, there are more delays timing wise during a wedding day than most people expect, so keep this in mind when deciding how long you allocate for the photos.
Bring a friend to the engagement shoot if you need - Feel free to bring a friend if you want them to hold props, coats, flat shoes (if you are wearing heels and want to change in between shots) and to look after any pets you might bring along, while we are taking photos of just the two of you.
If you haven't read it already, you might find our FAQs page helpful
Have fun :)