Are you planning a wedding in the City of Brotherly Love? It’s wedding planning season, and I thought it would be a great time to gather my favorite tips, tricks, and ideas for a Philadelphia wedding, from fun and quirky to elegant and classy.
Philadelphia Wedding Engagement Session Ideas
Let’s begin at the beginning! You and the love of your life just got engaged! Wahoo! Congratulations! One of the first things to do is book a photographer for your engagement photos. When I’m planning an engagement session with my clients, we brainstorm about their favorite places and things to do as a couple. That helps guide the photo shoot plans including outfits, time of day, and transportation.
Recently, I did a charming photo shoot in Old City where my clients first fell in love. We even made a stop at their favorite stomping grounds, the Glory Bar.
When you’re searching for a photographer, make sure you find someone who is willing to follow you around your favorite places, who isn’t afraid to get dirty (I’ve literally had countless shoots where I’m lying on the ground!), and captures your authentic self. This season of your love is the most exciting, and it’s your photographer’s job to make sure you both feel comfortable in front of the camera and that your love shines through the lens.
Need some help thinking about photo shoot ideas? I got you!
My Top 5 Engagement Session Spots for Philly Couples
- Longwood Gardens – Gorgeous florals, great lighting, and lots of spots for stunning backdrops
- Race Street Pier – A classic Philly spot right on the Delaware River. Great views of the river, Ben Franklin Bridge, and city skyline all in one iconic spot!
- Old City District – Full of historic charm. This spot is great for couples looking for an urban shoot in a charming neighborhood.
- Philadelphia Museum of Art – With its vast staircase and bold columns, the art museum makes for a very Philly engagement shoot. The sculpture garden offers lots of spots for unique and artsy shots.
- Fairmount Water Works – Another architectural gem near the art museum. Right on the Schuylkill River, Water Works provides an urban feel, great river views, and signature Philly history.
Of course, there are countless other places that we could go for your shoot! One of my favorite Philly engagement shoots capture a cool couple sharing some of their favorite local pizza out on their front steps. We don’t need to be in an iconic place to make magic happen, but it’s fun to find spots that are meaningful to you!
And once we’ve gotten your engagement shoot wrapped up, we can start talking about your wedding day. I’m often lucky enough to be a part of my clients’ engagement sessions and wedding day, so by the time the wedding day comes around, we feel like old friends! Even if you’re not working with the same photographer for your engagement and wedding shoots, I recommend getting to know your photographer prior to the wedding day so you’re comfortable together and have open communication lines about how the day will work.
Photography Tips for your Philadelphia Wedding
I’ve photographed countless weddings in the Philadelphia area. Here’s a few things I’ve learned:
- Consider where you’re getting ready – If you’re doing your bridal party shoot before the ceremony, it makes sense to get ready somewhere that’s close to the photo locations. A classy downtown hotel is a great central location for getting ready with iconic Philly photos right outside the door.
- Do your first look early – If you want iconic Philadelphia destination photos with your bridal party, plan the first look early in the day, so photos don’t feel rushed ahead of the wedding. Rushing is the last thing you want on the best day of your life!
- Limit your trolley stops – If you’re taking the trolley for your photo shoots, choose just a few stops. You want the photo shoot time to be fun and festive. Choosing too many places can result in sitting in traffic more and taking photos less.
- Less is more – Focus on your top 2 – 3 spots of photos with your bridal party. Transporting groups always takes longer than you’d think! If you want photos in more than three places, consider going with just the couple or using that location as an engagement spot instead!
- Get married all in one place – I LOVE when the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception are all in one place. Keeping it one place means that you and your guests have the most time to celebrate and be together instead of spending time in transit. It also leaves more time for candid photos of your guests!
Speaking of where you’re getting married, let’s talk venues! I’ve been to all different sorts of venues in the area. Here a few of my favorites:
My Top 10 Philadelphia Wedding Venues as a Photographer
- HollyHedge Estate – A family-owned farm and estate, with just the right amount of charm and class. A great “outside of the city” wedding venue that’s still close by!
- The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm: – Another historic farm turned wedding venue, with a romantic restaurant and accommodations on site!
- Bellevue Hotel – A historic hotel in the heart of downtown Philly. Check out Bess & Pat’s wedding at the Bellevue.
- Water Works by Cescaphe – The Cescaphe crew does amazing weddings, and their Water Works venue is top notch! Right on the river, this spot offers gorgeous views with indoor and outdoor options.
- The Lucy by Cescaphe – Cescaphe’s newest venue, The Lucy is great for couples looking for elegance and class on their big day. Check out my latest wedding at The Lucy!
- Historic Aldie Mansion – The Aldie Mansion at the Historic Conservancy makes you feel like you’re in a castle. The historic architecture and manicured grounds are truly magical.
- The American Swedish Historical Museum – Another classy wedding venue for couples looking for luxury, tradition, and history in their wedding day.
- The Philadelphia Art Museum – Surrounded by stunning art, iconic Philly Views, and fascinating architecture, it’s a great spot of a Philly wedding.
- The Marriott Downtown – Luxury suites, elegance, and class all in the heart of center city Philly. A perfect spot for a downtown wedding!
- The Logan Philadelphia – Super classy and fun, this one is great spot for a luxurious Philly wedding. My clients Genna & Matt got married there last year.
All of these places are truly special and offer something that’s unique to Philly. Yet, there are so many places to get married in the area! The most important thing is finding the best venue for your wedding, and everything else will fall in to place!
Feeling overwhelmed? Do not fret!
Book Your Photographer
I often hear my clients say that I was one of the first vendors they booked. If you book a local photographer that you connect with, chances are they can help guide you to your next steps in wedding planning (or at least make you laugh while you do it!) I believe one of the most important parts of my job is connecting with my clients, making them feel comfortable in front of the camera, and having fun during our shoots. Those are the things that make magic happen.
Words from my clients:
“If you’re looking for a wedding photographer who puts you at ease and feels like your best friend, look no further than Alli. My husband Alex and I first met Alli at a close friend’s wedding in 2021 and when we got engaged, she was the first vendor we booked. Her kindness, laid back demeanor and professionalism is unmatched. She calmed my nerves, and made both my husband and I feel so comfortable all day long. You can tell how passionate Alli is about her craft, and it truly comes through in her photos. She has a way of capturing the beauty of a moment and your personality all in one photo. We are so grateful to have met Alli and we feel like we truly gained a friend through this experience. She is your gal, you won’t regret it!” – Liz C.
Are you ready to book your photographer? Let’s do it!