Sometimes walls can be good for a relationship. As in, when they're surrounding you and your fiancé for uber-playful—and just the right amount of sappy-sweet—indoor engagement photos. Don't get us wrong; we love a good outdoor photo shoot too, but sometimes weather happens. Or, perhaps the closest you two get to "the great outdoors" are the smashed Nature Valley granola bars you keep at the bottom of your purse. Either way, there's something cozy poetic about snapping intimate pics of the two of you at home, out in the city spaces you love, or on the college campus where you met five years ago. See how true beauty lies within with these 17 super-neat (and climate-controlled!) indoor engagement photo locations.
Capturing snapshots in the comfort of their own home is an idea most couples don't even think about, according to D.C. wedding photographer Hannah Bjorndal. Sessions in a nook that you're comfortable spending time in on a daily basis, turn out relaxed, intimate, and unique to each couple, she says. "It can be fun to choose an activity to do like cooking in your kitchen, drinking coffee together, decorating a Christmas tree or even snuggling up in bed or on the couch with a blanket." If you choose an at-home shoot, Bjorndal does recommend making sure you pick spaces with large windows and lots of natural light because your photographer will likely turn off other interior lights to avoid mixed, unflattering coloring in the images.
Museum or Art Gallery
If we hear you say museums are boring, we'll kindly request you take it up with the dinosaur, thanks. Curated exhibits exist for almost every interest, from mid-century paintings to ventriloquist dolls (maybe don't take any photos with those), so you can find a showcase that's fascinating, personalized, and best complements your creative union. You'll be surprised to find many places are willing to work with you—as long as no part of the collection is endangered.
Bustling City Space
Philadelphia wedding photographer Benjamin Deibert loves big, busy metropolitan spaces—like a train station—for indoor engagement photo shoots. "Long exposure shots while the couple stands very still create life and movement and the feeling that they're the only two people in the world at that exact moment," he tells us. Great idea for city brides and grooms who spend a lot of time on the train, right? And if you live in New York City, you've got no shortage of stations or aesthetics—whether you choose the opulent Grand Central, or a stop right by your apartment with an inspiring mural you look at Monday through Friday.
Local Library or Book Store
Maybe you're book worms who pulled more than a few library all-nighters together, or you're the rule-breaking pair who just liked to make out in the stacks—consider an engagement shoot circled by colorful and fascinating-looking texts. You can even throw in a few of your favorite literary works as photo easter eggs for your closest friends and family to find and enjoy.
College sweethearts looking to revisit their alma mater for an engagement sesh will be happy to know that many universities offer historic, cool indoor places to shoot that are equally as lovely as their outdoor campuses, notes Chicago photographer Ann Oleinik of Ann & Kam Photography. For example, "One of our clients studied architecture at IIT and so wanted to do a session at the school's student center designed by famed architect Rem Koolhaas. We had a great time exploring the spaces and lighting of this unique building! Since we went when classes weren't in session, there were hardly any students in this normally busy space." For the record, she definitely recommends shooting when it's not a school day (over break, on the weekend, etc.).
Sports Arena or Bowling Alley
Basketball. Soccer. Hockey. Volleyball. Ice Skating. Boxing. Swimming. Premiere-League Bowling. Whether you're mainly interested in watching or playing, rep your love of the game, and each other, with a home field advantage when it comes to your engagement shoot selection. Sports fans and athletes can easily find enclosed stadiums, courts, rinks, rings, lanes, or alleys that make #winning backdrops, and normally just require a little bit of logistical coordination so as not to interrupt any actual game play. You guys wouldn't want that anyways.
Place of Worship
Many couples regard their faith as an essential component of their relationship, and there's no better visual representation of that than an engagement shoot within the confines of your beloved church, temple, mosque, or center of practice. Plus, the stained-glassed windows, rustic pews, colorful mosaics or high ceilings that are common fixtures in many of these structures make for a breathtaking scene.
Indoor Botanical Gardens
If you actually are inspired by nature, dare to be different by snapping your engagement photos at an indoor botanical garden, suggests Deibert. "You'll bring the outside in and, at the same time, capture some really gorgeous photos without being exposed to the elements." Basically, it's a win-win.
Aquarium or Indoor Zoo
You've found each other, but you can still take photos with all the other fish in the sea. Yes, we mean literal fish—or butterflies in a conservatory, owls in an observatory, or any other animal housed in an indoor zoo of sorts. Some people are animal people, and here we uncage you! Feel absolutely free to go all "circle of life" should the wild call out to you.
Favorite Bar/Lounge/Restaurant/Bakery/Cafe/Coffee Shop
Imagine a billiards at your favorite pub, or some precious latte-sipping at your signature breakfast spot. Obvy, this is an outside-of-the-box idea, and establishments can be restrictive about shooting, have terrible lighting, and may want you to come during off-hours, points out Oleinik. "However, when you find a great space you can create some really cool shots." If you and your fiancé met at one of these local locales, and then established yourselves as some of "the regulars," it feels like you've got to try this idea.
Was it the DJ who had you falling in love (again)? Did you lock eyes over a jukebox selection? Are you groupies who met at a music festival, and bonded over a mutual affinity for flower crowns and guitar synths? Take photos in a vintage, vinyl shop. Leather jackets encouraged, but not required.
Fitness Studio or Local Gym
If you two are work(out)aholics—always tagging your joint sweaty selfies with "#Swolemates"—then we've got the perfect "fit" for your indoor engagement session. Most fitness spaces are strategically designed to be open, inviting, and inspirational. If you're a paying member of a gorgeous, sun-filled yoga studio, or a crossfit gang, why not see if they'll let you use the place during off-hours for photos that capture all of the sentiment, and maybe a little less of the sweat?
We know you cynics out there are already shaking your heads because you've seen the strict security posted up around many a fancy welcome desk. Just ask if you can shoot there! The worst they can say is, "No." Oleinik admits, "Hotels are tricky, but, if you and/or your photographer can find a friendly lobby, you can often find some of the most interesting décor and lighting to incorporate into your engagement photos."
If you've managed to land yourself in a town with a clock tower during your engagement period, we're calling that impeccable timing. As photographer Joe Harbison of Joe and Robin Photography notes, the clocktower in downtown Denver is not only incredibly unique, but also offers "a chic and modern look of the panoramic view of Denver and its mountains" so you get the best of both indoor and outdoor worlds!
Theatre or Music Hall
All the world's a stage, but for couples who are performers, concert junkies, or just enjoy the phenomenal lighting effects of a good spotlight, you might try finding an actual stage. Movie theaters are another appropriate location idea for entertainment fanatics—especially if there's popcorn involved.
Winery or Brewery
If you're nervous about your photos, a few drinks probably couldn't hurt! Plus, who wouldn't love to lounge around a posh winery or hang out by the copper tanks of a chill brewery for a couple hours? And if we told you barrels—and those nifty-looking machines responsible for creating your favorite libations—didn't double as eye-drawing, refreshing background fillers, we'd be full of it. (Wink.)
As the old saying goes, "one man's junk is another man's engagement photo prop." If you're the type to start sentences with, "Call me a bit old-fashioned..." then you'd probably love to surround yourself with artisan knick-knacks and the rare gems you only find in the places everyone else has forgotten.