February 17, 2021
Looking for an engagement session location can be overwhelming! Northern Virginia offers such a wide variety of spots, it’s definitely hard to narrow it down to just one. There are so many “popular” locations, along with so many hidden gems, and I am going to share my top 10 favorites with you! These spots are perfect for any vibe! Whether you’re looking for a spot that means something to you and your relationship, or just somewhere absolutely gorgeous, NOVA fits any aesthetic.
Top 10 Spots are:
Old Town Alexandria
River Farm Alexandria
Blandy Experimental Farm
Great Falls Park
Riverview at Occoquan
Blue Hill Farm
Old town Alexandria is one of the most popular locations for engagement sessions, and it’s honestly one of my favorite! One of the main reasons Old Town is used so frequently, is there are TONS of different backdrop locations! You have everything from the waterfront, to cobble stone streets, to cool alley ways, and even historic buildings. This location can be molded to fit any style, and is perfect in any season. During peek session seasons (May-Oct) I am in Old Town Alexandria practically once a week, so I am super familiar with the area, and I love seeing how each of my couples make Alexandria their own.
Salamander Resort is a bit of a hidden gem to some! This gorgeous locations offers rolling hills and a gorgeous garden terrace area that blooms beautifully in the spring and summer. This location is most gorgeous in the warmer months, when everything is bright and colorful! I believe there is a photography permit fee required to shoot on the property, but I would definitely check before hand to make sure!
Manassas Battlefield is another popular spot, but its easy to see why! This location doesn’t offer as many different options as Old Town Alexandra, but it’s its own kind of beautiful! Witness the most amazing sunset up on top of the big hill at the Old Stone School, or visit the secluded spot off 29 next to the cemetery with a huge gorgeous oak tree! Either way, the tall grass and rolling hills make for a fun and beautiful textured backdrop.
Great Marsh is not only one of my favorite engagement spots, it’s also one of my favorite venues! This gorgeous estate has great views around back, but the estate itself makes for a stunning backdrop. The porch, stairs, terrace, and tree-lined drive are also wonderful additions to your session! There is a photography fee required to shoot on location, but the epicness truly makes it worth it!
River Farm in Alexandria is one of my hidden gems! These gardens are PERFECT for any spring or summer session, and have the most beautiful blooms! I love the quite of this venue, and the fact that it’s so close to me! You do have to make an appointment to photograph there, and there is a small $50 photography fee, but the staff is super accommodating, and friendly, plus they leave you be and let you explore – save for a few other guests, it’s like you have the whole property to yourself.
Another semi-hidden gem! The only downfall of this location is its distance. It is a bit of a hike, but honestly, I love this location so much that I’d hike it no problem! Despite the weird name, Blandy Experimental Farm is actually one of the most beautiful gardens in Virginia! It’s actually home to UVA’s research field station, and is considered a Virginia Arboretum! I absolutely love this spot in either spring, summer or fall – with the extensive tree collection, floral population, and foliage, you’re sure to get a good array of color any time! Best of all, it’s totally free!
View more of their Blandy Farm engagement here
Airlie is another venue I love! This location offers both a beautiful garden and a European feel! The immense staircase in the back of the venue resembles Spanish steps, and makes for a gorgeous photo-op! There is also a delicious restaurant on property to visit after! This location does require an appointment and has a small photography fee of $35. Unfortunately the grounds are closed due to COVID as of right now, but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for when I can visit this beautiful venue again!
See a gorgeous Tuscan inspired shoot at Airlie here
Great Falls Park is an easy peasy engagement session destination! It is best to do your sessions as close to sunset as possible, since the sun does set behind the falls and creates a stunning view of the rock formations! This is also a pretty decent off-season (non-colorful) location as well, since the real show stopper is the water below, and that doesn’t change with the seasons! There is a $25 entrance fee to the park, but other than that, you’re free to roam as necessary! There are bathrooms on site as well for outfit changes!
River View at Occoquan is a bit of a hidden gem, and another super close location for me! Right off Ox Rd, this venue has full river views and a couple of different spots to visit – this is another good sunset location, since the sun sets behind the venue and the side of the river we’re on! This location also has a restaurant attached for a post-session date night, and is pet friendly for anyone interested in bringing their pup(s) along (which is my favorite thing, ever).
And lastly, this intimate wedding venue in Waterford is perfect for engagement sessions too! Blue Hill Farm has one of my favorite views of the rolling hills of Waterford, and also provides some tall grass backdrops as well. Shirley + Waldo are also the kindest people, and their dog, Yogi, will steal your heart, and lick your armpits, which is kind of an added bonus in my opinion. There is possibly a photography fee required, and this is another sunset-perfect location.