Planning for Cherry Blossom Engagement Session DC


March 7, 2023

Cherry Blossom Engagement Photos in DC are iconic! Every year these blooms attract thousands of tourists to the area! See one of my favorite sessions here! In the past few years as a Washington, DC, wedding photographer, I’ve noticed a massive increase in the number of requests for engagement photos using these blooms as a backdrop. As the desire increases, so does the need for proper preparation and excellent communication! Today I want to share my tips for any couple planning their cherry blossom engagement session with me in Washington, DC, during this beautiful time of year.


Couple hugs in front of cherry blossoms in Washington, DC
Cherry Blossoms in front of the Memorial and Tidal Basin in Washington, DC

1. Arrive Early for Your Cherry Blossom Portrait Session

The early wake-up call for these beautiful photos is incredibly necessary. I can’t recommend this tip enough! Parking is incredibly limited during this 4-7 day stretch as thousands of tourists flock to see the cherry blossoms. You’ll also likely encounter a few more road closures and one-ways, so be mentally prepared to navigate the maze a bit more than normal. I provide all of my couples’ with specific suggestions on where to park and what time to arrive, so text me if you are feeling unsure!

2. Get Ready for the Crowds!

Depending on the time, you will likely see tons of sessions, hundreds of tripods, and thousands of tourists. It’s estimated that over 1.5 MILLION people visit the blooms each year! That being said, if you look at my past sessions you’ll notice that it looks as if no one is in sight. Trust your photographer to find the best angles and to do any necessary editing. And if you have questions as to whether or not your photographer is comfortable and able to do this, just ask! The professionals will be able to reassure you with ease!

3. Do you need a permit?

In Washington, DC a photography permit is required to shoot at all of the monuments on the National Mall, including the Jefferson Memorial and the surrounding Tidal Basin. While the enforcement of this policy varies based on time of day, time of year, and location, it is definitely more heavily regulated during peak bloom. If found having photographs taken without a permit, you will be asked to leave and can even be fined. The permit is only $140, and I highly suggest the investment! Here’s the link.

4. Sunrise ONLY! 

Typically, I photograph all of my sessions at either sunrise or sunset to ensure we have the best light for your session. If you book a cherry blossom session with me, I will ONLY and always suggest sunrise for our timing. The areas will still be very crowded, but not nearly so much as in the evening!

5. Watch Your Bags

It’s easy to become a bit too related or simply distracted during your session, but DC is still a major metropolitan area with a ton of tourists. I have had a fellow photographer’s client who had her purse stolen during their shoot. My suggestion is to bring as LITTLE as possible and if needed, stick anything in my backpack. I try to keep it on me the whole time for many reasons!

6. Prepare for COLD

It may be spring, but the chilly air coming off the basin can be bone-chillingly cold. Every now and then, we will encounter a warm morning during that week, but that is more of an exception than the rule. Wear your favorite outfits, but be sure to bring a coat! If you’re a couple who has booked a session with me, make sure to see the style guide for more tips on cold-weather sessions!

7. Bring Additional Shoes

I will always suggest getting as dressed up as possible for your portrait session — nothing makes me happier than a couple who embraces this time to look a little extra fancy! I’ve even created a full guide that helps my couples assemble outfits for the shoot! As gorgeous as heels are, though, you’ll want to throw in a pair of easy slip-on flats/flip flops/boots for walking in-between shots. Also, if you’ve never visited the Tidal Basin, it can be quite muddy. There’s not a ton of grass around except for in secret, hidden spots. Be prepared for a bit of an adventure as we navigate the mud in order to capture those iconic blossoms!

engagement ring surrounded by cherry blossoms

Final Thoughts

I know this may all seem a little intimidating and even a bit overwhelming, but if you book with me, know that I will guide you throughout the ENTIRE process! I want to make this time seamless so you can enjoy those beautiful blooms and have some of the most sought-after photos! 

Ready to plan your cherry blossom engagement session in Washington, DC? Let’s chat!

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