Hi, we're Hunter and Sarah, a husband-and-wife, luxury wedding photography team. We’re also educators, helping other photographers build profitable and sustainable photography businesses.
Hello engaged friends! Since Hunter and I often have couples book their wedding with us 9, 12 or (in the case of a booking last week) as far as 20 months out, they frequently have total control over what season they’ll do their engagement session in. We’re always happy to share wisdom from our years of portrait photography experience with our couples, but are also excited for this resource, which is available to anyone! Our hope is that as you consider the best time of year for you and your fiancé’s engagement session, this blog is a great help!
Because honestly, here in Virginia, there is no “best time of year” – it’s anytime! We’re sorry if that makes this blog’s title a bit “click-baity”, but hear us out. We’ve had experience capturing our couples during winter, spring, summer and fall, and each season has a totally unique style and feel. Some couples may love the summery feel, while others would rather stay cool and aim for their engagement session in the early Spring! So let’s get right to it.
With a bit of planning and a lot of luck, we can schedule a couple of engagement sessions during peak fall foliage, producing some stunning images that are only possible in the deciduous forests of the American East!
Now that the heat of summer has broken, the fall can be the perfect time to get out and shoot outside!
Fall is – by far – our busiest time of year for weddings. This severely limits our weekend availability for engagement sessions, and during especially busy times, even during the week (for our own mental and emotional wellbeing). This year, we only had room in our calendar for four engagement sessions in the entire month of October, and three of them were booked before the end of August!
Here in Charlottesville, people come out in droves for the beauty of fall foliage and the cool weather of fall that follows the oppressive summer heat. This means some of our most popular engagement session locations can be packed – with other photographers, wine-drinkers, foliage-watchers, etc.
In the past, we’ve had brides tell us that they selected their wedding day based on their desire to not get super gross and sweaty on their wedding day. The same principles apply for your engagement session. If you’re more “warm blooded” like Hunter who never gets cold but is always hot, maybe the winter is for you.
Popular wedding venues and photoshoot locations are far less busy in the winter, which means our list of possible locations for photoshoots can often double in the off-season.
Plus, if you love the snow like I do, the potential for a snowy session may be enough to convince you to aim for a winter engagement session!
First, the obvious: it’s cold. If you always dreamed of rocking a beautiful cocktail-length, sleeveless dress, winter may not be the time for your session here in Virginia. However, keep in mind that this may be the perfect time for a session in places like Arizona or Texas where “cold” means mid-50s.
For most of the winter, the sun will set here in Charlottesville sometime between 5:00 and 6:00 pm. This means a 90-minute engagement session will have to begin sometime around 3:00 or 4:00 pm. This obviously rules out sessions on Monday through Friday evenings for most people who work traditional 9-5 jobs and don’t want to take time off. This can make scheduling a bit trickier in the winter months!
Also, if bright, vibrant greens and blues are part of your vision for your engagement session, the subtle tones of winter may be less than ideal. However, if you’re one for subtlety, then this may be right up your alley!
Although timing flowers blooming is a bit like timing peak foliage in the Fall, we can sometimes get lucky with spring sessions and capture some beautifully blooming flowers and trees!
The slow warming of the Spring can also mean perfect temperatures for engagement sessions!
As you can probably imagine, the beautiful spring weather draws more than just photographers outside. Venues like wineries and parks can be packed in the Spring, especially on Saturday evenings.
For people with severe seasonal allergies, spending almost two hours in a grassy field can be difficult, and we certainly don’t want to capture you with puffy eyes and a red, irritated nose!
The Spring is our second busiest time of the year for weddings, which means many of our weekend dates are booked nearly a year in advance. However, mid-week engagement sessions become a possibility for 9-5 workers in the Spring thanks to later sunsets and daylight savings time!
Much like the late Spring, it’s very easy to schedule engagement sessions during the week all summer long. With sunsets as late as 9:00 pm, even our 9-5 couples have plenty of time to make it to their 7:00 pm engagement session!
Also, the beautiful greenery of the Central Virginia area is in full-swing during the summers, making it the most common choice for many of our couples.
Plus, during the summer months, the sun actually sets more slowly than during the colder winter months. This means golden hour is actually a bit longer in the summer months, allowing for even more beautiful shots like the ones below!
Again, we’ll start with the obvious: it can be hot! Although we’ll spend much of the first half of every engagement session in the shade, sometimes it’s hard to avoid working up a good sweat. Scheduling a summer engagement session by the water is a great way to mitigate the heat!
For most couples, summer means vacation time. This makes scheduling more complicated, as we find our couples juggling family vacations and beach trips around their engagement sessions!
So what time of year is the best? That’s for you to decide 😉 Have any questions that we didn’t answer in this blog post? Want to reach out about scheduling your own engagement session? Get in contact with us here!