Vancouver Engagement Guide

By Justin Ho Photography

Welcome to my engagement planning guide!  I'm so lucky to be a Vancouver wedding photographer  and engagement photographer- 7 years and counting! - because it's such meaningful and purposeful work that brings joy to people's lives. My greatest joy is creating images that capture raw emotion and adventure. My approach to capturing TIMELESS AND CREATIVE images is to first and foremost find AMAZING light. 

I can't recommend engagement shoots highly enough! It's a chance for me to connect with you two before the big day. You'll both feel like professionals in front of the camera once we meet again on our wedding day. It's also a great chance for you to visit a location you might otherwise be able to on your wedding day. Treat this portrait session as a date night! Be yourselves, dress up, and make it fun! 

Portrait Session

One of the first questions I get when people decide where to get their engagement photos is, WHERE should we go? Vancouver has no shortage of gorgeous locations. Whether you're looking for rustic, contemporary, mountainous backdrops, Vancouver is only a short drive away to any location you're looking for. Add more personality to your photos by choosing the location of your engagement session! I love when a couple suggests having their photos taken in a spot that is sentimental to them, as it makes everyone more relaxed and allows them to focus on each other throughout the shoot. Is there a spot that you went on for your first date? Maybe a cute local coffee shop where your first kiss took place? Or somewhere you went on your first date? If you need suggestions, I’m here to help! Whether you have pictured a serene field or an urban environment as a backdrop for your photos, I have plenty of suggestions!You can read my full blog post about my favourite Vancouver engagement locations. Below is a preview of some of my favourites: 

Outdoor Engagement Spots

If you're looking for indoor locations in advance, I would check out This Openspace. It's like Airbnb, for creative shoots! There are plenty of unique locations and photos! These spots are perfect for life style types of engagements!

indoor engagement spots

There are many different ways to make your engagement shoot unique! Whether you choose to include props, signs, or setup a life style home shoot at your house those are just a few things. Props could include champagne glasses, fur babies, mini drinks, picnic dates, ice cream pints, jersey of your favourite sports teams! 

Engagement Photo Ideas

Keep it simple! In terms of clothing, keep it simple with small logos and not a whole lot of patterns as it can be distracting . Choosing something that compliments the two of you will make the photos even that much better. What I advise is NOT to have exact same colours (e.g you're both wearing a blue shirt). In addition to that, think about where your engagement session will be taking place! If you're in the forest probably best to avoid green unless you wanted to blend in with the trees ;) 

After finding the location of your shoot, the next thing people will usually start to look for is what to wear. Before we dive in, there are a few things to consider. Would you like a more formal look? A laid back look? Or even both!  Whatever you decide, here are some guidelines.

What to wear

1. Colours

Like your wedding day, those little details count! Accessorize with simple jewellery, watch, a fancy pair of shoes, adds an extra touch to your photos. These little pieces shouldn't make a huge statement rather it should compliment your wardrobe! Also an excuse for the ladies to get their nails done a week before the shoot! Just remember we'll be doing some fully body shots, so try to avoid runners/sneakers.

 Lastly, think about getting your ring polished as well, as those will be in the photos as well! Bonus tip: If you choose to wear a nice pair of shoes, make sure to bring comfortable flip flops or slip ons as walk from one spot to another. 

2. accessorize

There's nothing as to dressed up! In fact, I love seeing my couples come wear a suit and ladies rocking out in their dress. For the guys, make sure to have your suit and jackets ironed couple days before the shoot so you don't have to stress about everything! Blazers, vest and sports coats, add an extra touch to your photos! If you do decide to bring a formal and casual look, I recommend starting with your casual look and then changing to your formal wear closer to sunset.

3. Suits and dress

If you've already booked your hair and make up for the wedding, it might be a great time to get your trial run! A lot of make up artist use this time to replicate your wedding day. Before you start, ask your make up artist how long you will need and give yourself some buffer time. Give yourself enough time to dress, have a snack and take things slow before you start the engagement session. You don't want to feel rushed on the day of! 

make up trial

I'm primarily a natural light photographer, which means that I usually shoot 2 hours before the sunset. There's nothing better than the "golden hour" which gives your photos the romantic feel. That means towards the summer dates, the engagement shoots will usually start later, and winter engagement sessions usually start early afternoon. Lighting is one of the most vital parts to any photo! Be sure to give yourself enough time on the day of to get to the location. Unfortunately,  if you're late, it'll impact the amount of photos we can get!  You can pick your engagement shoot date, any time between your booking and 1 month before your wedding. Just a reminder, that it does take about 2-3 weeks for the final photos to  be delivered. So if you need save the dates or creating guest books, be sure to give yourself enough time!

 In terms of seasons, some popular choices are between March-April for cherry blossoms! If you're an adventurous person and love the snow thing about a winter session! 

Time and Date

The biggest thing you can bring to the engagement session is your personality and smiles! The BEST photos are when you two are having fun! It's about the silly faces, the way he whispers something goofy in your ears, the way you embrace each other. Those are moments I love capturing. Don't let Pinterest dictate what your relationship should be. Make it your own! Lastly, since you're already dressed up why not make it a date night? 

It's all about you two 

I hope you found this engagement guide useful!  I was born and raised in this beautiful city of Vancouver so to be able to give back into this community is something I'm proud of doing! Wherever you are in your wedding planning journey, I wish you the very best and hope you're able to enjoy every step along the way. Biggest advice is don't sweat the small stuff and enjoy this special time with each other.