The Nation’s Capital literally has any kind of setting that you could ever want for your engagement photoshoot. And not just in a general sense like “historic,” “rural,” “artsy” or “quaint.” No, the DMV has EXACTLY what you’re looking for, no matter how specific your tastes. And as longtime residents of the DC metro area, we love using our knowledge to help you find the perfect engagement photoshoot location. We can pretty much guarantee we’ll find you a spot that checks every box. Just like we did for Alicia and Jenna – a lovely couple whose engagement we photographed recently. They had a clear idea of what they wanted, and we found a location that matched their vision. Brookside Gardens in suburban Maryland was just the right fit for them. And one reason they loved their Brookside Gardens engagement photos was because the setting was everything they dreamed it would be.
Why Brookside Gardens is an Awesome Engagement Photoshoot Location
So what exactly did Alicia and Jenna want from a location for their engagement session? For starters, an outdoor spot that showcases the Capital region’s natural beauty. Fortunately, coming up with dozens of options in and around DC is easy. There are so many gorgeous parks and wooded areas that make spectacular settings for engagement portraits!
The couple also wanted a place in the Maryland suburbs. Alicia grew up there and liked the idea of engagement photos in a place with particular significance to her. (We always encourage couples to choose engagement photo locations that mean something to them or their relationship. A meaningful place makes the experience more comfortable and helps give context to the images we create for them.)
Brookside Gardens checked both boxes. A 50-acre public display garden within Wheaton Regional Park, it’s one of the crown jewels in the Montgomery County Parks network of outdoor green spaces. More importantly, Brookside Gardens is also one of the most gorgeous engagement photo session locations in the DMV. Especially in the autumn!
The most impressive thing about Brookside Gardens as an engagement photo spot, though, is its diversity. No matter what your preferences, you are sure to find something you like. In the hour we spent there creating gorgeous portraits for Alicia and Jenna, we barely even scratched the park’s surface. Here is a quick list of all of the different areas within Brookside Gardens’ 50 acres:
- The Aquatic Garden
- The Azalea Garden
- The Butterfly Garden
- The Children’s Garden
- The Rose Garden
- The Japanese Style Garden
- The Trial Garden
- The Rain Garden
- The Woodland Walk
- The Perennial Garden
- The Yew Garden
- The Maple Terrace
- The Fragrance Garden
- Two conservatories
(Please note that an engagement session at Brookside Gardens requires an appointment and a permit. Contact us for more details!)
Gorgeous Fall Brookside Gardens Engagement Photos
We didn’t have to go very far into the park to find a great spot in which to kick off Alicia and Jenna’s engagement session. Just down the hill from the Visitor’s Center is a lovely path through the woods. With the trees lining it in their full fall colors, it was a beautiful site for some “warmup” photos of Alicia and Jenna in Brookside Gardens. (We start almost every engagement session with a few very easy poses to help our couples relax and get used to being photographed.) Almost from the beginning, Jenna and Alicia found ways to add more romantic touches to those portraits. The little things they did – like caressing each other’s cheeks or gently fixing each other’s hair – added a layer of sweetness to just about every shot.
Romantic Engagement Portraits at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton MD
Once Jenna and Alicia were fully relaxed and into the flow of their engagement session, we brought them around to the back of one of the two ponds that comprise the park’s Aquatic Gardens. (More on what makes that such a special part of Brookside Gardens below.) In one of the more secluded spots, we found some very tall green shoots growing near the edge of the pond. They were so tall, in fact, that Alicia and Jenna could easily cuddle together inside them. That created a cozy, intimate atmosphere that we love for romantic engagement photos. Images with that look and feel make it seem like the couple are the only two people on earth. Which they are to each other, of course!
Creative Engagement Photos Inside Anderson Pavilion
A short walk around the pond led us to the most distinctive element in that part of Brookside Gardens. Anderson Pavilion is a lovely little gazebo on a small peninsula jutting out into the water. Plants and trees grow close around about half of the outside of the pavilion. That gives the interior space that aforementioned private feel we love so much.
Anderson Pavilion’s ceiling also makes it a great space for creative engagement photos that use light in fun ways. For example, we set up a flash behind Jenna and Alicia that turned the entire interior of the gazebo bright orange. That added a cool look to pictures of silhouettes of the couple dancing. Similarly, aiming those lights at the leaves outside the pavilion enhanced the yellow and orange fall colors, giving pictures of the couple the bold, bright colors our work is known for.
The bridge connecting Anderson Pavilion to the “mainland” and the rest of Brookside Gardens is another great spot for engagement portraits. For instance, we created more silhouettes of Alicia and Jenna standing at the gazebo end of the bridge. From that angle, the structure’s lines are very visually pleasing and draw your eye right to the couple. We also posed Jenna and Alicia in the middle of the bride and went around along the bank. From there, we were able to take pictures of the couple through some bushes with bright red berries. The resulting images had both those colors we love so much and a beautiful, dreamy quality.
The Aquatic Gardens: A Cool Place for Nature Engagement Portraits in Brookside Gardens
After finishing up the portraits on the bridge, we and the couple walked over to the other body of water that makes up the Aquatic Gardens. Though the eastern pond appears larger than its neighbor, it is actually a bit smaller. This illusion is due to the Anderson Pavilion peninsula essentially cutting the western pool in two. On the eastern side, there is nothing but open water.
That unobstructed view makes Brookside Gardens’ second pond a perfect place for otherworldly reflection pictures in the water’s still, glassy surface. There’s even a spot that seems tailor-made for getting those kinds of shots. On the southern shore of the pool is a little set of stone steps that ends at a “landing” about a foot above the water. That allows a couple to get right up close to the reflective surface, which creates a “double image” that looks awesome in engagement photos.
Once we got some stunning portraits of Alicia and Jenna reflected in the water, we brought them to the path circling around the pond. We used that area to do some photos that helped highlight the goofier sides of their relationship. First we had them lie down in the grass, where we took shots with their faces close together and leaves falling around them. Our aim with the leaves was not the best, though, and one ended up landing on Jenna’s face. Both future brides cracked up when that happened, and Alicia slyly asked us to be sure to include that photo in their gallery. (Which we did, of course!)
Can You Have a Brookside Gardens Wedding Too? You Bet!
As we discovered with Alicia and Jenna, Brookside Gardens is an awesome place for engagement photos. We noticed that it is also a gorgeous site for wedding celebrations. And fortunately, the park makes several of its gardens available to couples who want to tie the knot in a beautiful outdoor location. The Aquatic Overlook, which, for lack of a better word, overlooks the Aquatic Gardens, is a particularly popular spot for ceremonies and receptions. (In fact, there was a wedding reception kicking off there as we were finishing up Jenna and Alicia’s engagement session.)
The aptly-named Wedding Gazebo in the Fragrance Garden is another sought-after outdoor location in Brookside Gardens. As is the Japanese Tea House on Gude Island. For couples who worry about inclement weather or other nature-related issues, Brookside Gardens’ Auditorium is a great alternative. That space has 75-foot-high windows that look out over the Azalea and Aquatic Gardens, giving couples the feel of an outdoor space with the security of an indoor one. And regardless of which area you choose, Brookside Gardens offers the option to set up tents and lights that allow your reception to go late into the evening. For more information about organizing a Brookside Gardens wedding, please click here or here.
Thank you, Alicia and Jenna, for spending such a fun hour with us! We really loved taking your engagement photos at Brookside Gardens and can’t wait for your wedding at Fathom Gallery!
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