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Inspiration » Photography » 17 Top Spots for Engagement Photos in Washington, DC

17 Top Spots for Engagement Photos in Washington, DC

by Marilyn Oliveira
engagement photos washington dc

One of the best things about a DC engagement photo session is the opportunity to capture some of the most iconic imagery in the United States. The US Capitol is home to a plethora of symbolic backdrops, from the Library of Congress and the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial. Just imagine using an elegant portrait of you and your partner at national landmark — or two — to announce your engagement. Or, lean into the theme and feature a new monument on your save the dates, invitations, and wedding website, too!

But there are also plenty of alternatives for couples seeking a more personal reflection of their love story in their DC engagement photos. Looking for a lush, natural backdrop for your engagement session? Or, maybe you’re hoping for a hip, urban vibe? We reached out to top local wedding photographers Kanayo Adibe, Casey Crowe Taylor, Brittany Diliberto and Johnny Shryock of Bee Two Sweet, and Mantas Kubilinskas of Mantas Photo for their takes on the best locations for engagement photos in DC . Here are their picks, from stately national monuments to charming parks in and around the DC area.

1. Blagden Alley

Blagden Alley introduces a splash of color to the rather historic feel of Washington, DC,” says Adibe. “If you are looking for a vibrant scene for some creative photos, this is a great place to go.”

Shryock and Diliberto add: “Blagden Alley is found within DC’s Shaw neighborhood and offers distinctive brick and stone features as well as interesting outdoor murals. The ‘LOVE’ mural by Lisa Marie Thalhammer is not to be missed!”

2. Cherry Blossom Festival

“Every spring, the cherry blossoms alongside Washington, DC’s Tidal Basin light up the city with their colorful display of delicate blooms,” say Shryock and Diliberto. “Day or night, the cherry blossoms offer the perfect amount of quintessential spring in DC.”

“[It’s a] DC classic,” adds Taylor. “If you can brave the crowds, it’s so worth shooting during peak bloom. The color of the petals is incredible, and it’s the most romantic. Photography permit applies.”

3. County Fairs

“Couples seeking innovative and quirky engagement photos will love shooting at one of the DC region’s fairs,” suggest Shryock and Diliberto. “These summertime sessions are incredibly fun for everyone involved, and we enjoy strolling through the fairgrounds and creating pictures of the experience.”

4. Crystal City

“Located in Arlington, Virginia, Crystal City features a wide variety of backgrounds including outdoor murals, innovative architecture, cute shops, and stylish restaurants,” say Shryock and Diliberto. “While it might not be the most obvious location at first glance, we enjoy working with couples who want engagement photos where they live and work.”

5. Dumbarton Oaks

Dumbarton Oaks provides a great balance of architecture, greenery, textures, structures, and the occasional art exhibition to spice up your photos,” says Adibe.

Taylor adds: “I just recently photographed a vow renewal here, and I love it because it’s super different. It feels very old-world and is nestled right above Georgetown. It’s got major Secret Garden vibes and so many hidden corners. Guaranteed for lots of variety in a session here.”

6. Great Falls National Park

“Just a short drive outside of DC, Great Falls National Park offers a taste of the great outdoors,” says Shryock and Diliberto. “With access from both Virginia and Maryland, Great Falls offers impressive waterfalls, a variety of boulder features, and a diverse array of foliage. [It’s] perfect for couples who enjoy being immersed in nature.”

7. Larz Anderson House Museum

 “Anderson House gives off an extremely regal vibe,” Adibe says. “If you are looking for that gilded-age feeling in a location, this is one for you.”

8. Lincoln Memorial

“You definitely need to be a morning person for the Lincoln Memorial so you don’t have tons of tourists in the background, but it’s worth it even just for the calm and serene environment it provides that early,” says Taylor. “It’s magical. Photography permit fees apply.”

Shryock and Diliberto add: “The monuments of DC inspire us with their rich history and impressive architectural features. For couples seeking the most iconic and quintessential DC photos, the monuments along the National Mall are a must.”

9. Meridian Hill Park

“When couples tell me they want a mix of nature and city, I always recommend [Meridian Hill Park],” says Taylor. “It’s got DC architecture in the stairs and fountain but a ton of green space, as well. It’s a win-win.”

10. Mount Vernon Trail

Mount Vernon Trail offers a blend of backgrounds, showcasing the Potomac River, impressive trees, and glimpses of DC architecture,” say Shryock and Diliberto. “The trail is a paved bicycle and pedestrian path along the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Northern Virginia.”

11. National Arboretum

national arboretum engagement photo dc

“One of the greatest things about the Arboretum is its minimalist aesthetic,” says Adibe. “Lots of open space, greenery, and those amazing columns that support the sky. There is nothing else like it in the DC area.”

The National Gallery of Art is a great spot for DC monuments and architecture without having to pay the hefty permit fees of the National Mall,” says Taylor.

Shryock and Diliberto add: “The National Gallery of Art offers sophisticated backgrounds of beautiful pink marble with captivating artwork. Rain or shine, the light in this building is always perfect, and with the rotating collection we always find new inspiration in the gallery.”

13. National Zoo

“The National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian Institution and one of the oldest zoos in the United States — a classic date location for DC couples! We love exploring through the National Zoo, finding ways to incorporate what is special about the site for our couples,” say Shryock and Diliberto.

“The Renwick Gallery is a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum located in Washington, DC,” Shryock and Diliberto explain. “Exhibitions rotate throughout the year and offer couples the chance for a distinctive signature background that expresses their style.”

15. Shenandoah National Park

“Only two hours outside of DC, every hike in Shenandoah National Park is stunning,” say Shryock and Diliberto. “We love adventurous couples who seek epic scenery and experiences and will take any excuse to hike to any summit in the park. For couples seeking a memorable sunrise or sunset session experience, the views in the park cannot be beaten!”

16. Sligo Creek Trail

Sligo Creek Trail is a hidden gem in Montgomery County, Maryland, and just a brisk drive out of DC,” Shryock and Diliberto say. “Hiking along the trail offers gorgeous trees, boulders, bridges, and the creek. Sligo Creek is perfect for couples seeking a serene and peaceful environment on this shaded trail.”

17. Union Market 

“[Union Market is] one of the most amazing and unique places in Washington, DC for urban and untraditional engagement or wedding photoshoots,” Kubilinskas says. “It is full of colors, graffiti walls, and urban-looking streets. If you would like to get something unique for your engagement or wedding images, this is the place to be.”

Taylor adds: “I recommend shooting on a Monday evening when the market is closed, but I [also recommend] this to couples who don’t want the traditional DC engagement session. I love the color of all the murals and the urban feel of this spot.”

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