A countryside engagement shoot

I’ve posted a fair amount on the ‘gram about my wedding coming up on September 22, but I thought for a change I’d publish my first wedding-related blog post by reflecting on our engagement session from last year. While social media is a great way to share my favourite photos, a longer form post allows me to get into some of the details and behind-the-scenes moments from the shoot day – while describing our photog and location selection process leading up to it. Find all the deets below!

The shoot

Mike and I kept things fun and simple for our countryside engagement session, while using it as an opportunity to get to know our wedding photographer before the big day. We live in midtown Toronto and work downtown, so it was nice to take our photos in beautiful, quiet nature outside of the city. The setting gave the photos an entirely unique aesthetic. They’re unlike any photos we’ve ever taken together.

We took the pics between roughly 5:30 and 6:45 p.m., just as the sun started to go behind the hills, about two hours before full sunset. The golden hour hue was unreal.


The photog

In terms of choosing a photographer, Mike and I actually only met with one, and it was love at first sight. Alicia Thurston will be photographing our wedding and also shot our engagement session. I researched photographers heavily online for months, so by the time we were ready to meet with them I had shortlisted my favs after much Instagram scrutiny. Alicia was at the top of my list.

We booked Alicia in May of 2017, nearly a-year-and-a-half before our wedding. I honestly feel the photographer is one of the most important people at the wedding. I sometimes glibly joke that the only point of having a wedding is to take pictures of it. Mike and I aren’t religious and we’ve lived together for five years. We’re already common law so really the whole point of our wedding is to have a big fancy party with everyone we love. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still SUPER EXCITED ABOUT IT BAH! But professionally-shot photographic evidence of the big fancy party is, of course, a must.

Anyway, we had our engagement session with Alicia more than a year before our wedding in September 2017. Picking a location for the shoot was easy. Mike’s stepmom has a summer property in the countryside near Shelburne, Ontario, about an hour drive from our home in Toronto. We briefly considered some Toronto locations for a shoot, but you need to purchase a license for a lot of the popular (read: good) locations in the city. When compared to a country backdrop we could use for free it was just a no-brainer.

Alicia is such a gifted artist and had fun and adorable ideas for poses. She vibed with us so well, made us laugh, and kept it light. The result is a collection of some of my favourite photos ever.

The pics

aliciathurstonDSC_3893_randm010.jpgMike and I wore slightly nicer versions of our day-to-day comfortable wear. A collared shirt and slacks for him, and a simple black sack dress with black booties for me. I also made sure to rock my very favourite YSL lipstick (Rouge Pur Couture The Mats in Nude Rose) with very minimal makeup otherwise. I did my own makeup, just CC cream, setting powder, a dusting of bronzer, eyebrow filler, mascara, and the aforementioned magical lipstick.

aliciathurstonDSC_3923_randm018.jpgAn important hack that Alicia taught me was to always pop a hip to look less stiff in photos. I’ve got all my weight on my right foot here to look less posed. Also HOW GORGEOUS IS THIS SCENERY?!

aliciathurstonDSC_4165_randm075.jpgWe chose the above photo for our Save The Date magnets. Alicia shared it as part of our initial sneak-peek before we saw all of the photos and I knew right away it would be one of my favs of the collection. The private country road is so the opposite of the crowded city apartment life we’re used to. Also the light was exactly as magical as it looks.

aliciathurstonDSC_4025_randm051.jpgWe were sitting on a mossy log in this one. I was sort of falling over, but that didn’t stop the magic. Oh, and you can see my manicure here. I went with a very soft, neutral pink to keep my look as minimalist as possible. I also normally wear at least two rings on my right hand but chose to have my engagement ring be the only piece of jewelry I wore that day, other than my stud earrings.


aliciathurstonDSC_4242_1_randm095.JPGI decided to keep my glasses on for all of the photos. I wear them all the time so I don’t really feel like me without them, plus I’ll be wearing glasses when I get married. I don’t quite understand the idea that glasses aren’t dressy, they’re often one of the most expensive accessories I’m wearing! I mean everyone should just do what they’re comfortable in. But for my part I’ve never even attempted to put in a contact lens (eye stuff makes me horribly squeamish) so #BespectaledBride it is!

aliciathurstonDSC_4225_randm089There’s an outdoor pool at this countryside spot (I know right? It rules), and Alicia posed us on the far end of it, right at the edge. She was lying in the grass when she took this photo. After she got up she said, “It’s not every day that I lie down on the ground for a shoot.” But LOOK at the end result. Dead. Thank you forever Alicia. <3.

aliciathurstonDSC_4277_randm102We knew we’d gotten some serious beauties well before the shoot ended, but Alicia kept finding little nooks and crannies and scenic spots to pose us in as we made our way back to her car. It was so amazing to see her eyes light up and her imagination activate whenever she spotted a new perfect backdrop.

aliciathurstonDSC_3918_randm017We’re so delighted with the end result. I also love that I had the chance to stare at this collection long enough to choose favs for our guest book at the wedding.

The love

I’m forever grateful that we booked our photographer and our engagement shoot so far in advance of our wedding. We’ll have been engaged for nearly two years by the time we get married, and I actually really appreciate that we’ve taken so much time and gotten a lot of the big stuff done in advance. We were able to be decisive about our engagement shoot and photographer because we spent the first few months of our engagement thinking and talking about what we wanted, rather than immediately rushing through things.

I think even if you choose not do engagement photos, it’s worth investing in a professional shoot with you and your partner eventually, one that is relatively casual and evergreen and isn’t tied to a specific occasion. I adore having this collection of forever photos. You don’t need an occasion to celebrate love.

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