Victoria and Daniel’s Meadowlark Botanical Gardens engagement session was likely one of our last of 2021. And if it indeed was the final engagement photoshoot of the year, what a way to go out! Everything lined up beautifully for a spectacular session. The late-fall weather in Northern Virginia was relatively mild. The leaves in the region had only just turned, meaning the colors were unbelievable. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens offered so many stunning backdrops that we could have spent three more hours creating magical images. And of course, the couple couldn’t have been sweeter or cuter! All of this added up to a set of Meadowlark Botanical Gardens engagement photos that were a perfect cap on a great year. And hopefully, new chapters in Victoria and Daniel’s love story that they will treasure forever!
Engagement Photoshoots: Great for Getting Magical Portraits…
Before we talk more about what made Victoria and Daniel’s engagement session at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens so special, permit us a small detour. We get a lot of questions from prospective clients about whether they should add an engagement shoot to their wedding photography package. Our answer is always an unequivocal and enthusiastic “yes!” After all, we do have bills to pay!
We’re only joking, of course. Not about the bills to pay, sadly, but about our reasons for encouraging couples to book an engagement photoshoot. The first is pretty obvious. Doing a pre-wedding photography session gives you a gorgeous gallery of photos that documents your love. You can use them in save-the-date cards, as decorations for your wedding or home, or just as daily reminders of how you feel about your beloved.
…And for Making Your Wedding Day Easier
The second reason is arguably even more important. Posing for couples portraits can be a strange experience. (A lesson we re-learned when we posed for a colleague recently!) When you think about it, how often do you stare at your partner for minutes at a time, your faces just inches apart? As we said, we get it!
The good news, though, is that the whole process gets easier the more you do it. We have yet to photograph a couple that wasn’t relaxed and enjoying themselves by the time we were done. But why go through that process on your wedding day, when time is often short and the pressure to get to the next event is high? Why not do it instead in the lower-key and slower-paced environment an engagement session offers?
Your wedding-day portraits will also be easier because you’ll feel more comfortable with your photographers. We will no longer be two service providers with whom you’ve chatted a couple of times over Zoom. We’ll be Anji and Pete, two people you’ve spent an hour hanging out with and getting to know better. You’ll trust us more and feel more at ease in our presence. And when you’re relaxed, portraits of you are going to look completely spectacular!
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens: An Awesome Spot for Northern Virginia Engagement Photos
These reasons almost certainly factored into Victoria and Daniel’s decision to book us for an engagement shoot. The next step was choosing a location. The bride- and groom-to-be told us that they wanted a spot with either a woodsy, gothic or historical vibe. For a while, it looked like we might be able to do the shoot at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower in Baltimore. The couple had won a contest that would allow them access to that spot for a photo session. When that didn’t pan out, they suggested a few outdoor locations closer to Washington DC.
The one they and we picked was Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. (Obviously, given the title and topic of this blog post!) It had everything the couple was looking for: an outdoor setting with a variety of backdrops, art installations that offer creative possibilities and an easy commute from anywhere in the metro area. In other words, all the ingredients necessary for jaw-dropping Northern Virginia engagement photos. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens also had another selling point. Namely, its commercial photography fees are relatively low. The other options they were considering were all on National Park Service (NPS) land. As we have mentioned elsewhere, photoshoots on NPS property require a permit costing a minimum of $140. By contrast, a session at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens costs only $25 plus a $6-per-person entry fee.
Unforgettable Meadowlark Botanical Gardens Engagement Photos
An inexpensive fee isn’t what you’re going to think about when you look at your engagement portraits in 30 years. You’re going to be focused on whether they are a true testament to the love you have for your significant other. And with that in mind, the location needs to add something to the scene. It needs to complement the beauty of your love story, to enhance it without overpowering it or distracting from it. And from that perspective, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens did not disappoint! From the beginning to the end of Victoria and Daniel’s session, the setting made just about every shot beautiful.
We started near the park entrance, under a tree whose leaves were turning from green to red. First, we took some stunning pictures of the couple with the fall colors behind them. Then we worked a bit of green foliage into the foreground. That contrasted beautifully with the bright reds of the hair and jacket of the bride-to-be. Those images also have a hazy, dreamy quality that we love.
From there, we headed down a steep hill to the main part of the park. A wrong turn led us to a very visually interesting tunnel-like structure. Shaped like an overturned boat with its support “ribs” intact but its hull missing, it was a great place for pictures with cool lines and designs. Then we made our way back to the original route, which took us to a charming little bench. We got some very sweet shots of Victoria and Daniel cuddling there.
A Fun Story Behind a Northern Virginia Engagement Session
One of our favorite parts of the photoshoot was what came next. Victoria and Daniel wanted some pictures of the engagement ring. But with a small twist. When Daniel came to ask for Victoria’s father’s blessing, her dad said yes, provided that future son-in-law could roll a 20 on a 20-sided die. The joke was that every number on the die was a 20. So naturally, we had to incorporate that little memento into the ring shots.
After some more portraits with blazing red and orange fall leaves framing the couple, we took them to the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens’ centerpiece. Jutting out into a small pond is a cute gazebo that is perfect for contemplating the gorgeous surroundings. It is also ideal for wide-angle shots of a couple with the park’s splendor around them. Which is exactly what we did with Victoria and Daniel! A steep hill nearby was also a great location for more expansive images, so we captured some of the couple staring off into the blue sky and walking along the ridge.
Their Northern Virginia engagement session came to a close with one of the sweetest moments of the whole afternoon. On the walk back up the hill to the park’s exit, we found another tree with flaming red leaves. We wanted to get one more sequence of shots with Victoria and Daniel framed by those colors. As we were posing them, the bride-to-be kissed her future husband gently on the nose. It was such a spontaneous display of love that it pushed an otherwise gorgeous portrait into the realm of the unforgettable.
A huge thank-you to a lovely couple whom we’ve really enjoyed getting to know! We’re so excited to be a part of your wedding at The Cloisters Castle next year, Victoria and Daniel!
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