Winter Engagement Photo Shoot Ideas

The winter season brings with it majestic photo opportunities. But, to capture those frost-tinged winter engagement photos, you’ll need to come prepared.

By The Zola Team

Winter Engagement Photo Shoot Ideas
Photo by Zola

The First Look ✨

If dashing through the snow and kissing under mistletoe are some of your favorite things to do with your SO, then winter engagement photos may be for you.

This marvelous season offers a little something extra to every setting, whether you’re in front of a dazzling mountain range or relishing in the intimacy of your own home. Let the magic of the winter frost act as your personal filter and give your photoshoot the complete storybook treatment.

For all their jaw-dropping splendor, winter photoshoots can be challenging. Whether it’s crowded locations or unpredictable weather, we’re here to help break down everything you need to know about winter engagement pictures:

We’ll help you find the inspiration to plan your engagement shoot so that you can transition smoothly from jingle bells to wedding bells.

Winter Engagement Themes

Winter engagements come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and the amount of choices that you have to make planning them can be overwhelming.

  • Do you want outdoor photos or indoor ones?
  • Will you incorporate elements of the holidays or stick with the classics?
  • Formal or more laidback?
  • One outfit or two?

Whether you started planning yesterday or you’ve been dreaming of it since you were 12, identifying the theme for your engagement can help you organize all the different details for the photos. Start with broad categories, such as:

  • Formal and classic – A more traditional approach is an excellent excuse for you both to get fancy and dressed up. Button-ups and heels—or other preferred formal wear—are encouraged. Indoor locations with warm lighting work nicely for this style. But, if you're willing to brave the cold (or you live somewhere mild), outdoor settings can provide a nice contrast for all your finery.

  • Casual and modern – Showcase your personalities with casual clothes that make you look and feel good. Let your individuality and fashion sense shine through as you walk around the city, or give the camera a glimpse of your everyday life together at home.

  • Sporty and adventurous – For athletic couples, the outdoors are an excellent opportunity to showcase your prowess. Hit the ice or snowy hiking trails for more active and informal pictures.

  • Bohemian and creative – Soft pastels, mixed fabrics, and winter florals make up the vision board for this style category. Artsy couples can let their creativity shine through in their fashion choices both indoors and out.

Whatever theme you choose for your engagement photos, Zola will help you find the perfect match for them in our wedding paper collections. With hundreds of customizable designs and templates, you can mix and match color and style to create eye-catching wedding invitations and more.

Select beautiful designs that will set off your engagement photos from our premium paper suites. Since they're organized by style categories, it'll be easy to choose the designs that match your wedding aesthetic.

Tips for Troubleshooting Winter Engagement Photos

That classy picture of your intertwined hands with the sparkly new ring on it looks great on your phone, but nothing shouts “We’re engaged!” like a professional engagement photoshoot. Official portraits will do more than get your friends excited on social media, and pictures of the happy couple will see multiple uses up to the big day.

For couples who want their photos making the rounds during the most wonderful time of the year, scheduling a winter engagement shoot can be tricky. A fresh dusting of snow is sure to add an extra layer of enchantment to your pictures, but with the weather involved, a little advance thought goes a long way.

Keep these tips in mind as you plan your winter engagement photos:

  • Don’t get caught off guard by the chill – If you want to frolic outdoors in the snow for your photos, try to dress warmly. Add layers and make use of statement pieces such as a colorful scarf, a beautiful sweater dress, or a glamorous overcoat that’ll keep you toasty and fashionable.

For those brave souls who want to bare some skin in their engagement photo outfits, have a friend or sibling on standby with a blanket or coat ready to bundle you up in between shots. Staying warm is not only comfortable, but practical, being that it means you have more time to take the perfect picture. You don’t want to look like you’re courting frostbite instead of your spouse-to-be.

  • Check the weather forecast frequently – If snow is involved, you want the fresh, unspoiled stuff, not the grey slush that’s already been trekked over. Keep an eye on your weather app so that you can be the first one out in the winter wonderland. Working with a local photographer who can be on the ground when you are there could also make the process easier, particularly if they’re familiar with the landscape and scenery.

  • Take advantage of winter daylight – Many couples prefer the flattering light of golden hour, but for photoshoots set in the wintertime, make sure that you start well before sunset. Since days in the winter are shorter, it gets dark earlier, and you don’t want to lose the light before you’ve finished capturing the perfect pictures. Giving yourself ample time to work with is especially important if you also need to balance finding ideal winter weather conditions to shoot in.

  • Have a backup plan – Sometimes plans fall through, or the weather doesn’t hold up. Don’t let your session go to waste by making sure that you have a Plan B in place. Backup plans include having a second location if the snow's already been disturbed in your first or having somewhere cozy and romantic indoors ready if a sudden storm hits. Spare outfits and accessories in the trunk in case of spills or clashing backgrounds can come in handy, too.

  • Get a variety of different photos – Snap a few extra shots that switch up the tone so that you have a variety to pick from for other wedding paper purposes. That way, you're not stuck with the same type of pictures and poses for everything.

For example, your main photos can be more formal and dressed up for the invites, but you might want a more relaxed and fun picture for your thank you cards. Make sure that you explain the themes you're going for and the shots you want with your photographer.

Need help finding someone who can bring your vision to life? Zola makes it easy to search for top wedding photographers by style so that you can find the perfect match.

These guidelines will help you avoid getting caught off guard by the challenges of a winter engagement. With that in mind—even if something does come up—you’ll be able to get through it together. Just remember to relax, and have fun with it.

12 Winter Engagement Photo Ideas to Kickstart Your Own

If you only have vague ideas for your winter engagement photos in mind, it can be challenging to plan the details of your pictures ahead of time with your photographer. You might start the shoot only to realize that you need something completely different to achieve the look you want.

For those who need a helping hand with brainstorming, we’ll go over 12 detailed ideas for winter engagements that you can use for your own. Feel free to mix and adjust them until they’re just right for you.

#1 Hit the Ice

You don’t need to have fully planned choreography to be magic on ice. Grab your skates and hit the rink together for some movement-packed shots.

Don’t worry if one of you is shakier in ice skates than you’d like—it’s the perfect excuse to hang onto your partner’s arm. This winter activity is a fantastic chance to show off the sweet way you support each other through thick and thin.

#2 Take Advantage of Outdoor Winter Festivities

For those who prefer their feet firmly on solid ground, look around your community for winter fairs and outdoor markets where you can take a romantic stroll. The colorful stalls, holiday lights, and festive decorations will make the perfect backdrop for your winter engagement photos.

#3 Drive to a Place With a View

Couples who love to see the sights together on road trips can show off their adventurous and romantic lifestyle. Drive directly to your destination, whether it’s a snow-capped mountain top or a spot on the outskirts of town, and take advantage of the glorious sunrise.

Pop up the back of the car or sit on the hood to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa together. Dress up your camper with some string lights and a cozy blanket for some impromptu romance. Puffer jackets, wool caps, and big smiles are welcome.

#4 Use Empty Streets and Cityscapes as Your Backdrop

For city slickers who prefer the urban jungle to the woods, winter engagement photos aren’t all icy mountaintops and lakeside cabins. A dusting of snow will transform ordinary city streets into a magical winter wonderland. Here are some tips and ideas to keep in mind when you and your boo hit the town with your camera crew:

  • Try scheduling during the off hours – Avoid busy times of the day where there’s sure to be lots of heavy foot traffic. You’ll have an easier time getting the perfect shot in popular locations if you don’t need to worry about random photobombers in the background. Aim for early morning or chillier days when there will be fewer people out and about.

  • Be patient and flexible – Snow in the city is more likely to get trampled to mush, so the key to getting the perfect shots is speed. Get to your location as soon as it's stopped snowing, or even in the middle of it. You may experience downtime while waiting for the weather to simmer, but your patience will be rewarded with a pristine snowscape.

  • Find locations with great shots of the architecture – Take advantage of the city life by making any striking spots of architecture a part of your backdrop. Beautiful buildings, old train stations, or even shots of tall skyscrapers make dramatic backgrounds for a romantic kiss.

  • Play around with black and white filters – While the streets are empty, glam up in your best evening clothes and go for a stroll under the street lights. Throw on a black and white filter for some old-school cool.

#5 Get Playful With Snow

One simple tip for acting natural on camera is to try to forget it’s there at all. Enjoy your day in the snow with your SO and loosen up with a snowball fight.

You can try these other action-based snow activities for more dynamic engagement pics:

  • Build a miniature snow couple together.

  • Cuddle up on a sled with your partner, and then brace yourselves for the rush of adrenaline as you go down the hill.

  • Go for a walk while it’s snowing and share a magical kiss with snowflakes still in your hair.

  • If there’s a beloved furry member of your family, include them in the shoot with you. They’ll love being included in the fun, and extra points if the presence of a beloved canine friend helps you two relax in front of the camera.

  • Unleash your inner child and make snow angels beside one another. Make sure that you save this shot for last after you’ve taken all of the other photos that you want, so that you don’t have to worry about wet clothes or hair.

The camera will capture your sweet, playful dynamic as you relax and soak in another day with the person you love. Don’t be afraid to be yourselves during your photoshoot session.

#6 Use Your Own Backyard

If you have a photogenic backyard, why not eliminate the risk of public locations and stage a winter photoshoot on your own property? You’ll be surprised how a layer of snow will transform an ordinary garden into a dazzling backdrop overnight.

With a location that’s under your control, you’ll be able to clean up and decorate the area ahead of time, as well as ensure that no one tracks uninvited paw prints all over the snow before the camera’s ready.

#7 Stand Out With Colorful Accessories or Coordinated Outfits

Make use of the cool winter palette with selective pops of color and texture that will stand out against neutral backgrounds such as overcast skies or snowy hills. Avoid distracting prints that will look too busy on camera, and stick with classic looks that will withstand the test of time and changing fashions. Use these elements to inspire your winter engagement look:

  • Red is a tried-and-true crowd favorite when it comes to winter colors. Crimson dresses or burgundy suits make for show-stopping outfits that evoke a festive air while still being versatile enough to adapt to all your engagement needs.

If you prefer a subtle touch, go with light hints of this attention-grabbing shade in a red lip or a scarlet tie. You’ll still pop beautifully on camera against a neutral backdrop.

  • Rich textures, such as wool, knit, and corduroy, look great on camera while strengthening the overall seasonal vibe. Cable knit sweaters, fleece-lined jackets, colorful scarves, or even thick blankets are excellent choices that will keep you toasty and warm as you snuggle up for your winter engagement photos.

For extra visual interest, mix and match fabrics with touches of leather, faux-fur, or lace.

  • An umbrella makes an excellent prop that’ll keep you dry, while adding an element of whimsy to your shoot. Lean in with a bold color (red is again an iconic option) to draw the eye to a steamy on-camera kiss underneath the umbrella, or use a clear one so that there are minimal distractions on set.

#8 Take Your Engagement Photos While the City Is in Its Holiday Best

Part of the seasonal cheer comes from cities getting dressed up in their winter best for the most wonderful time of the year. Why not take advantage of all the lights and holiday wreaths by taking your winter engagement photos downtown?

Find street lamps with big velvet bows to swing around, or dance through a grove of winter trees strung up with white holiday lights. Wreaths of holly and potted poinsettia can dress up outdoor seating nooks that will make you feel like you’ve walked onto the set of a Hallmark movie.

#9 Go Tree Shopping

Why go to nature when nature can come to you? If you’d like to evoke a winter forest without leaving city limits, go shopping for Christmas trees in an open market or with a local seller.

Shots of you and your partner holding hands and wandering through rows of pine and fir trees will be both festive and sweet. Accent pieces can take the form of ornaments, ribbons, cups of hot cocoa, or strings of fairy lights.

#10 Use Seasonal Locations

Popular winter getaway spots, such as ski slopes and cabins, make excellent backdrops for authentic looking engagement photos. A snow-covered lodge cabin can look like a gingerbread house with icing in the right light or it can offer some rustic country charm in another. Snow on the slopes is also less likely to melt away after only a day or two.

Alternate with shots of the two of you inside the lodge by the cabin fire, reading a book, taking a nap, or doing a puzzle together.

#11 Staying Indoors

For those love birds who prefer to winter away somewhere toasty and warm, you don’t have to venture outside to obtain the perfect winter engagement photos. Windows with snow piling up the sill or painting the scenery outside the glass white will do plenty to paint a seasonal backdrop for your indoor shoot.

Here are some photogenic indoor activities to consider:

  • Settle in for the night by the fire with mugs of hot chocolate and marshmallows.
  • Pose for candid shots of the two of you dressing up for a holiday party.
  • Spend the morning in bed under a cozy comforter and fuzzy bathrobes.

Your decorations, wardrobe, and props can do a lot of heavy lifting to convey the seasonal setting for your engagement photos. Bonus props that make great winter accessories include:

  • Holiday sweaters
  • Fairy lights
  • Holly leaves
  • Mistletoe
  • Reindeer ears (for a pet or, for a comedic touch, yourself)

#12 Recreate the New Year Magic

A new year means new beginnings, and your engagement is a new beginning to the next chapter of your lives together. Co-opt some of the New Year’s Eve magic for your photoshoot by capturing the midnight kiss on camera as fireworks light up your faces. Sparklers in the snow on the roof or in your yard will also add a wonderful touch.

For those who prefer a more subdued New Year’s Eve, make use of fizzy flutes of champagne, glittery outfits, and a clock counting down to your wedding date to set the scene.

Chill Out After Your Engagement Photo Shoot With Zola

So, you've figured out all the details for a dazzling set of winter engagement photos—now what?

Turn your attention to the many ways that you can repurpose engagement pics for your wedding planning needs with all the bells and whistles. From your wedding invitations to the FAQ page on your wedding website, Zola can help you crop, resize, and enhance your engagement photos onto hundreds of different designs until it’s just right.

Do you have the perfect engagement photo that you’d like to turn into a keepsake for all your guests? Zola can help make your Save the Dates magnets so that they can go on the fridge of your invited guests, instead of getting lost in the mail. For all the different ways that you can deck out the wedding paper with your gorgeous winter engagement photos, check out our Invites + Paper section at Zola. Plus, if you're interested in booking other seasonal photoshoots, we have a list of spring, summer and fall engagement photo ideas, too!

What season should you get married in?