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Best Engagement Session Locations in Richmond, Charlottesville & Northern Virginia

There are so many beautiful places to take engagement portraits in Virginia. 

So much so, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. Or where to even begin your search!

If you’re needing a little help, here are my top 15 favorite engagement session locations in Richmond, Charlottesville, & Northern Virginia. 

And, as one final piece of advice before you decide on any place (whether from this list or not), reach out to the venue to confirm availability and pricing for day passes, as they change depending on the season. Or, if you’re one of my couples, I can help with that!

 

Richmond

Virginia House

Romantic. Ethereal. Character. These are the words that come to mind when I think of the Virginia House. Everything here… From the architecture of the English Tudor manor to the surrounding gardens… is gorgeous! 

The manor gives off a European countryside-type vibe. So, if that sounds like your cup of tea, this venue will make for one dreamy engagement session backdrop (or intimate elopement/wedding!)

 

Virginia State Capitol Building

If you’re looking for classic photos with traditional southern charm… Or, if you just have a love of country, this is your place!

Not only do you get the stately Virginia Capitol building as the backdrop for your photos, but you also get access to manicured lawns and tons of stunning views. (And shade for those warm Virginia summers!) 

 

Upper Shirley Vineyards

Do you and your fiance love wine? Do you ever go wine tasting on the weekends? If so, let’s plan on incorporating that into your photos – For photos that look like they were taken during an activity you two would normally do versus a planned photoshoot. 

Only 30-minutes from downtown Richmond, the Upper Shirley Vineyard is easy to get to. And because we’ve already made an afternoon of it, stay for dinner and have a romantic date night – just the two of you!

 

Branch Museum of Architecture

The architecture at the Branch Museum of Architecture is, no surprise (given its name), gorgeous. The exterior red brick, stained glass windows, stonework and wood paneling give it such a complimentary mix of classic elegance and contemporary touches.

But, its beauty is not only found on the inside, but on the outside too. The museum has a walled-in garden that really gives you a sense of privacy. Which, I feel, is perfect for an intimate photo session. Especially if you’re like me – Who’s a little shy in front of the camera at first and doesn’t want everyone looking while I have my picture taken. 

 

Dover Hall Estate

When people ask me to describe Dover Hall Estate… I tell them it’s like the old world meets modern luxury. It’s grandiose and stunning both on the inside and out. And the craftsmanship is incredible. 

The English Tudor estate, conveniently located between Richmond and Charlottesville, was originally built as a private estate, but was transformed into a private events space in 2014. Which is good news for us! Because it’s not a national landmark or museum, it means it’s easier to book an engagement session without working around the general public.

 

Charlottesville

King Family Vineyards

I always tell couples when deciding on an engagement session location to make sure it has a special meaning to them. So, if you love wine, or already planning on getting married here, let’s take some photos at the King Family Vineyards.

The King Family Vineyards, located in Crozet about 25-minutes from Charlottesville, gives you breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, rolling hills and pastures, and pristine white barns. And some great vino to sip on! 

Sounds like a winning combination if you ask me.

 

Keswick Vineyards

Amidst the rolling hills of central Virginia, Keswick Vineyards definitely gives you the feel of a traditional vineyard mixed with history and romance. 

The grounds are centered around Edgewood estate – a beautiful old mansion – with the most picturesque fountain. And it all overlooks the acres and acres of vineyards and farmland. 

(And, make sure to not leave without buying a bottle of their Cab. It’s amazing!) 

 

Swannanoa Palace

Quite literally a palace, the Swannanoa Palace is built completely out of Italian Carrara & Siena marble as a replica of the Villa de Medici in Rome in 1912. Some say it’s haunted, but I think it’s rather enchanting with its slightly overgrown brush, cracked sidewalks, peeling paint, and empty fountain.

And while every room inside has a different theme, my favorite thing to photograph here is the abundance of awe-inspiring features around the grounds! Which, in my opinion, makes it well-worth the 30-drive to Afton (where it’s located) from downtown Charlottesville. And a great backdrop for anyone envisioning a more editorial-style photo session. 

 

The Gardens at Waterperry Farm

A true hidden gem! Resting on 100 acres, surrounded by the sweeping Blue Ridge Mountain views, and located 20-minutes outside of Charlottesville, the Gardens at the Waterperry Farm is like photographing The Secret Garden.

From the arboretum of trees to the rose and butterfly gardens to the English greenhouse to the reflecting pool… There’s an intimate space for everyone here!

 

The Market at Grelen

The berry lawn. The whimsical greenhouse. The stunning vistas. The grelen trail… There are so many options here. And they’re all absolutely magical! 

For anyone considering holding their engagement session at the Market at Grelen, I highly recommend it. (As well as getting lunch beforehand or dinner after.)

The venue is overly accommodating, allowing free photo sessions during business hours – Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00am – 4:00pm. And, if you have already booked their venue for your wedding, they allow after-hours sessions. All sessions are by appointment only.

 

Northern Virginia/DC

Goodstone Inn & Restaurant

I love it here because it looks straight out of a fairytale. It’s charming and beautiful and feels like you’re surrounded by nature. The lush plants and trees at the entrance. The ivy-covered walls… It’s like you’re walking into Snow White’s quaint and cozy cabin.

As a side note: Goodstone will waive their portrait fee if you are staying on-site or if you dine in the restaurant. (Sounds like a great excuse to book a weekend getaway or dinner afterward for date night!) They also do not allow sessions on the weekends when they have weddings. 

 

Great Marsh Estate

The Great Marsh Estate is a true gem within Virginia. When arriving at the estate, it feels as if you’ve been transported to the English countryside with its chateau-like design and meticulously cared-for grounds. 

Whether you’re getting married here or just love the background for your engagement session, it’s fairly easy to book a session here. The property has good availability during the off-season months (December – March), as well as weekdays. And while they don’t allow you to take photos inside, you do have free reign of the grounds.

When booking your engagement session time, I recommend the mid-late afternoon. 2-hours will give us plenty of time to capture all of your engagement photos, and take advantage of golden hour.

 

Tudor Place Historic House & Gardens

Housing six generations of descendants of Martha Washington, Tudor Place is an iconic landmark in the heart of Georgetown. And with multiple outdoor places to explore, it makes for a great variety of backdrops.

Although the grounds include a few houses, the gardens are where we’ll do our session. The gardens are open Thursday – Sunday from 12:00pm – 4:00pm. Tours of the garden are free, however, a timed ticket entry is required to get in. 

 

Oatlands Historic House & Gardens

If you ever dreamt of taking pictures in an otherworldly garden or rolling hills, the Oatlands is perfect! Its history and symbolism run deep, with it being said that every bench and hedge was individually placed to become part of an equal whole. 

The fact that it’s absolutely stunning not only makes it one of my favorite places to photograph… It’s extremely easy to work around their schedule of events.

 

Tranquility Farm

There are tons of opportunities at Tranquility Farm! From its multiple, spacious fields to the wooden barn to the lodging accommodations, it’s an amazing blend of historical elements, elegance, and rustic style. 

Located in Purcellville, along Goose Creek and the Loudoun countryside, the farm rests on 23 acres of preserved land. So, we’ll never run out of space to take photos.

 


 

If interested in learning more or inquiring about a session with me, please feel free to reach out! I’d love to answer any questions you might have.

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