Biltmore estate engagaement - biltmore gardens engagement photo with beautiful couples under a weeping tree - photo by corey johnson studios biltmore wedding photographer

Asheville NC Engagement Session Planning Tips from Corey Johnson Studios


Hey there! I am Corey, an Asheville NC Wedding & Engagement photographer specializing in classic southern weddings for joyful couples!

Biltmore estate engagaement - biltmore gardens engagement photo with beautiful couples under a weeping tree - photo by corey johnson studios biltmore wedding photographer

First of CONGRATULATIONS on your engagement! Your engagement session is one of my favorite parts of our time together because it gives you both a chance to be in front of my camera before you get married, which is going to make your wedding day experience feel so smooth, seamless, and comfortable. Not only that, but we get to create something so special together. You’re going to be married for over fifty years, but you only get to be engaged for this short period of time. I’m so excited to capture the only time in your life when you get to be each other’s fiances. I created this small blog post as a way to help engaged couples figure out the basic details before booking an engagement session. It is packed with all my best secrets for getting the best out of your engagement experience, so let’s dive right in! 

beautiful couple smiling at each other during their brevard nc engagement sesison - corey johnson studios

Choosing Time & Date 

I’m a natural light specialist because I believe that natural light from the sun creates photographs that feel fresh, timeless, and true to you as a couple. I prefer to begin all engagement sessions two hours before the scheduled sunset during “the golden hour,” when the light is the dreamiest. Being an Asheville NC engagement photographer, the mountains can sometimes block that beautiful light, so some sessions may need to start more than 2 hours before sunset (depending on location).

One tip I give my couples is to use a sunset calculator online to determine the scheduled sunset for the date and location you’d like to do your session. Then, just subtract two hours to figure out your start time. Remember, the sun sets much earlier during the colder months of the year and much later during the warmer months, so make sure to factor that in when choosing your engagement session date, especially if you’re taking off work or have evening plans afterward. To get the most out of your session, please plan a buffer when getting ready so you can arrive a few minutes early to your session and be ready to start on time. I’m only able to shoot when natural light is still in the sky, so I’ll want to take advantage of every minute we have together before the sun goes down. If you’re wearing two outfits, save your more casual one for the second half. it is easier to dress casual than to change into dress clothes in the backseat of a car, or a small bathroom. Classic and timeless images are something I LOVE so head on over to my Pinterest board by clicking here for some engagement style inspiration!

QUICK TIP: My weekends fill up fast and far in advance. You can get a Fast Pass to the front of the line by scheduling a session for a weekday afternoon. 

Joyful couple sharing a kiss during their classic engagement session in asheville nc - photo by corey johnson studios asheville nc wedding photographer

Selecting the Right Location 

The location of your engagement session is up to you! The first thing to decide is what look you want for your session. Whether it is up in the epic blue ridge mountains, or in a beautiful garden surrounded by gorgeous trees and blooming flowers, the look is something that will determine the direction of your engagement session. There are so many beautiful locations and I am always up for exploring a new spot together. if it is a new location I will do my best to research the area and figure out the best of the best places in that location to get those gorgeous photos you are dreaming of! If you are familiar with Western NC, then you know there are some gorgeous Asheville NC engagement session locations and possibilities!

Falls park engagement session in greenville sc - photo by corey johnson studios

Think Outside the Box 

This is the time to think outside the box! I encourage you to brainstorm unique locations that you might have special access to that most people don’t. For example, maybe you, or someone in your personal or professional network, can secure permission to a location that would otherwise be off-limits, like a beautiful private estate, country club or resort. Maybe it’s a family ranch, upscale hotel or even an airplane hangar. The sky is literally the limit! Spend a few minutes thinking about it and checking around. You’ll be surprised with what you come up with. Plus, if something seems out of reach, just remember: you never know until you ask! My couples have secured permission to some pretty amazing places in the past. If you get stuck or need inspiration, just send me an email and I am happy to help! I have some great go-to locations around Western NC that we can always hit, too. Just let me know which session you love, and what look/vision you are dreaming of, and we will go from there! Easy. Peasy.

Parkway engagement session - coupled holding hands on the blue ridge parkway engagement sesison - photo by corey johnson studios asheville nc wedding photographer

Destination Engagement 

Asheville NC engagement sessions are gorgeous, but if you want your engagement session in another area, I would love to work with you! Your engagement session includes my travel time anywhere in the Western NC & Upstate SC area. If you’d like to go somewhere outside the area I just mentioned, I’m up for the adventure! Travel fees do apply for locations over 2 hours away. I love traveling and love the excuse to go to a new place, so if you have a cool location in your area, let’s set it up. I’d love to make it work!

Lake Lure NC engagement session with beautiful couple

Appropriate Start Times

Summer Jun-Aug 6:30-8:30 pm | Summer engagements, just like all engagements, take place two hours before sunset.  This will hopefully mean that the shoot will be during the cooler part of the day. 

Fall September – November Time Varies | The sunset time changes drastically during these three months. In Sept, you can plan on 5:30-7:30 until the third week and then you can plan on 5:00-7:00 until Mid- Oct.  After the first week of Nov, 3:00-5:00 pm.

Winter December -March 3-5 pm | During December through Mid-March you can plan on your engagement session taking place around 3-5 pm.  However, the time changes in Mid-March and so that will make the start time one hour later.  

Spring April – May Varies |  The sunset time drastically changes throughout the course of these two months and so our shooting times change as well. You can plan on approximately 5:30-7:30 in April and 6:00-8:00 in May.

riverside engagement session in asheville nc - photo by corey johnson studios

I am so excited for you and hope these tips help you out. If you ever need anything please don’t hesitate to ask! I feel joy in helping others, so please don’t hesitate to ask any questions at all! – Warmly Corey

Planning your wedding day and need some help creating a timeline? Click here to read my wedding timeline tips!


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