February 17, 2014

Our Richmond Virginia Engagement Shoot

We figured there couldn't be a better way to start out our week of wedding posts than by rewinding back to the engagement stage. Mary and I decided on a long, year+ engagement so we could take our time with the process. We announced our engagement to our families in 2011 on Christmas Eve, you can read all the details from that night and more of the story behind finding the ring in this post.

Throughout the engagement, a big part of the wedding planning process for us involved finding a photographer. Once we found the right fit for us, part of the photography package included an engagement session and today we're excited to share some of our favorite shots that came from the day.

To give a little background, we found our photographer through a network of Richmond photographers and ultimately loved the feel and style of Tori Watson's images. When researching photographers, we found it really helpful to be able to look at their past wedding shoots, blogs and Pinterest accounts to preliminarily find a good fit for what we had in mind. Initially, we weren't convinced we wanted to do an engagement shoot. We forwent an engagement party and weren't sure the idea of a typical engagement shoot was really "us."

The engagement shoot in our photography package was a complimentary and recommended option. It couldn't be exchanged for additional or different services, so we decided to go for it. Well, we're really glad we ended up doing it for a few reasons. First, as our photographer explained, it was a great intro into working with her and getting comfortable in front of the camera. It made it so much easier during the actual wedding to take direction and feel at ease (one less thing to stress over). Secondly, we got so many new favorite photos from the day we never expected. Of course we got a ton of the posed shots you might expect to see, but Tori (our photographer) did an incredible job of capturing some of those candid or unexpected moments that have easily become some of our favorite family photos. We even got a few silly ones that we've had fun using in series like Fancy That and other areas you might recognize.

We started out in downtown Richmond walking around East Grace Street. I love the urban feel of this area and if you are local to the area, you might recognize it as the street where a couple of our favorite restaurants, Pasture and Rappahannock are located:

It was fun to slip into little doorways or alleys with historic feeling architectural elements here and there:

Or find a place to sit down for a minute and take ourselves a little less seriously:

The shots below are from an alleyway in the same area of downtown Richmond (heck, were an urban couple right?):

You might remember these marquee signs Mary found at a local antique shop from this post. They were fun to bring along and use as props — making for some lighthearted moments:

While walking back to our cars to head to the next location, we came across this strip of wall with brightly colored graffiti. We stopped and grabbed a couple shots here that turned out to be one of our all time favorites from the day (Mary even has this one set as her phone background):

After a quick change into some more nature-friendly gear, the next half of the shoot took place in one of our favorite locations on the James river here in Richmond — The Wetlands. This area is part of the greater James River Park System and is filled with winding forest trails leading down and around the river. It's within walking distance from our old house and we'd frequently take Basil on walks in this area in the evenings and on weekends.

One of Tori's tricks for getting these great expressions was in telling me to whisper something funny into Mary's ear. I won't tell you what I whispered, but isn't that a great tip for getting a more natural looking expression in photos? We love that they turned out less "stagey" and also like laughing as we try to think back on what was so funny.

One of the great secrets of The Wetlands is this hand built bridge and waterway. The water is very shallow, but the bridge lends for such a picturesque walk through these woods. The first shot in this series below of Mary walking out on the bridge towards me is our favorite from this scene's series. It's a good example of a candid shot Tori grabbed throughout the day:

And yes, we even made it into the water at some points:

We had Basil in tow with us throughout the day and he made an appearance in several of the shots we got around The Wetlands. This specific one below is another example of the more candid moments that were captured and it's one of our absolute favorites (if not the favorite) from the entire shoot:

We also just love the animated look on Basil's face from these more posed shots we got:

Thanks for taking a peek into our engagement shoot and sharing in some of our very favorite family photos. We've already had a few printed and framed for different places around the house you might recognize. We're looking forward to printing more and creating a special album at some point too.

All of the images featured in today's post were captured by Tori Watson of Marvelous Things Photography. If you'd like to see even more shots from this session, find them in a roundup of her favorites from the day right here on Tori's blog.

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  1. aww, yay! i love seeing your favorites, and i'm SO glad you guys agreed to do this shoot, as well. it was so much fun, and i'm so happy you introduced me to The Wetlands! such a gorgeous spot.


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