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Your Ultimate Longwood Gardens Engagement Photo Session Guide


I'll be your wedding day fairy godmother/hype woman. Wanna know a little secret? That little nervous feeling you have about being awkward on camera? Every. Single. Couple. on here felt the exact same way at first. I promise I'll never leave you two hanging. You'll get jaw-dropping ethereal images all while having a freaking blast!



I debated taking down this post entirely because of the new Longwood Gardens photography policy going into effect in October 2024. As you can probably guess, the policy is nottt great for us as photographers and, in turn, our clients. But, because I always strive to deliver the engagement session of your dreams, I felt it was my civic duty to spill the tea. Keep reading to learn about the new policy and make an informed decision about your upcoming engagement session at Longwood Gardens!

A popular engagement session destination in the heart of the Brandywine Valley, Longwood Gardens is a stunningly beautiful and endlessly inspiring location to capture such an important milestone in your relationship. Consider this post your ultimate Longwood Gardens engagement session guide. I’ll provide you with all the essential information you need to plan your engagement photo session at Longwood Gardens, from hours of operation to seasonal blooms and the best photo backdrops in each garden section.

Longwood Gardens Hours of Operation

After reserving your wedding date with me, the first thing we start to plan is your engagement session! The gardens are open year-round from Wednesday to Monday, with only a few exceptions. Here are the general hours:

  • Spring/Summer (April – September): 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Fall (October – November): 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Winter (December – March): 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

A Longwood Christmas runs from mid-November through the first week of January and is open daily from 10:00 am–11:00 pm during this time.

I’ll be honest, there’s really no bad time of year to visit. It’s always a good idea to check the weekly hours on the Longwood Gardens website or contact them directly to ask about special events that might affect access.

New Longwood Gardens Photography Policy

Starting October 1, 2024, through February 28, 2025, photo shoots will not be permitted at Longwood Gardens while they plan for their new photography policy beginning March 1, 2025. Starting in March 2025, a photography permit will be required to host special occasion or contracted photography at Longwood Gardens.

What are the biggest changes going into effect? Lay it on me. 

  • Advance booking is required. You will need to obtain your photo permit for a specific date and time versus just showing up. 
  • Photo permit pricing starts at $250.
  • Photography will be permitted in the outdoor gardens (not the conservatory or other indoor spaces)
  • Outfit changes aren’t allowed! You must wear the same outfit for the entirety of your photoshoot, so keep this in mind if you were hoping for two looks. 

And probably the most drastic change: “All photo sessions will have a Longwood staff person accompanying them.” (

More information on photography permits on the Longwood Gardens website:

The permit fee includes admission to the Gardens for the photographer only. Other guests entering the Gardens in conjunction with a photo session will need to purchase Gardens Admission. 

So, while I used to bring clients into Longwood Gardens using my annual membership, unfortunately that will no longer be possible when the new policy goes into effect. 

The good news:

If you were hoping for a Longwood Gardens engagement session in 2024, there’s still time to get it on the books. Outdoor engagement shoots in the garden are still permitted—restriction free—through September 30. Chat with me here to get your session scheduled!

Seasonal Blooms at Longwood Gardens

One of the most enchanting aspects of Longwood Gardens is the ever-changing display of seasonal blooms. There are five distinct seasons Longwood Gardens promotes each year: Winter Wonder, Spring Blooms, Festival of Fountains, Chrysanthemum Festival, and A Longwood Christmas. Each season offers a different floral color palette for your photos:

1. Spring

Spring Blooms season runs from March 30–May 5

This season boasts vibrant daffodils, magnolias, tulips, cherry blossoms, and wisteria in full bloom. In late April, the Open Air Theatre comes alive with fountains set to music. The Idea Garden is a fantastic spot for capturing these colors, and the iconic Flower Garden Walk is a must for classic garden shots in late April through the month of May.

2. Summer

Summer Festival of Fountains season runs from May 9–September 29

The summer season at Longwood brings the Festival of Fountains, AKA one of my favorite times to shoot engagement sessions. You’ll have your pick of stunning roses and water lilies as backdrops during the summer months. The Orchid House and Rose Arbor are all excellent locations for romantic and colorful photos. The main conservatory will be bursting with summer colors at this time!

3. Fall

Fall Chrysanthemum Festival season runs from September 30–November 12

The autumn foliage at Longwood Gardens is truly unmatched. Visitors look forward to the iconic Chrysanthemum Festival, where horticulturists and gardeners create literal artwork out of cascading florals and engineered installations. The Italian Water Garden and the Peirce-du Pont House are stunning areas with bubbling fountains and vibrant foliage.

4. Winter

A Longwood Christmas season runs from November 17—January 7

Winter Wonder season runs from January 20–March 24

During the winter season, Longwood Gardens transforms into a magical wonderland with thousands of lights and decorated trees. With the new photography policy going into effect at the end of 2024, indoor photoshoots will no longer be permitted. This is one of the busiest and coldest times of the year to visit Longwood Gardens, so plan accordingly! NOTE: Photoshoots will not be permitted in the gardens during the upcoming winter season (October 1, 2024–February 28, 2025). I’m not sure what this means for future winter seasons, but make sure to keep tabs on their schedules and policies here. 

Best Outdoor Engagement Photo Backdrops

Now, let’s explore some of the different parts of Longwood Gardens and the best garden photo backdrops they offer:

1. Main Fountain Garden:

The Main Fountain Garden is a central attraction with impressive water features and beautifully landscaped surroundings. It’s perfect for timeless and elegant engagement photos.

2. Italian Water Garden:

This area exudes a romantic ambiance with its classical architecture and serene water features. The stone walkways and statuary is one of my favorite places to take couples during their engagement session.

3. Chimes Tower & waterfall:

The Chimes Tower District features a historic, ivy-covered stone bell tower next to a stunning 50-foot waterfall. Within sight of the Main Fountain Garden, this area of sweeping lawns and manicured hillsides is like a scenic vista from an Italian villa.  

4. Topiary Garden:

The intricate topiaries in this garden are a work of art. They make for creative and visually stunning engagement photos.

Planning Your Visit to Longwood Gardens

If you’ve never been to Longwood Gardens, keep in mind that the property is massive. Nearly 200 acres are open to the public, most of which are outdoors. I highly recommend wearing comfortable shoes or at least bringing a pair to change into as we walk between sections.

As far as entry to the park goes, I’m a Longwood Gardens member, so luckily we all get in for free! 

Booking Your Longwood Gardens Engagement Session

Each of my wedding photography packages, be it 8, 9, or 10 hours of coverage, includes an engagement session! As soon as you lock in your wedding date with me, I’ll send over my tips and tricks guide, which includes vendor recommendations, general wedding tips, and what to wear for your engagement session. After shooting dozens of engagement sessions at Longwood Gardens, I have more than a few golden nuggets of advice up my sleeve. 

Longwood Gardens is a paradise for engagement photography, with no end of photo backdrops among seasonal blooms and diverse garden sections. Whether you’re immediately drawn to the elegance of the Italian Water Garden, the natural beauty of the Meadow Garden, or the enchantment of the Main Fountain Garden, this venue has something for every couple’s style and vision. I would love to frolick through the gardens with you and your SO as you celebrate your engagement this year! Fill out my inquiry form here, and let’s start planning the magic! 

Engagement Photos At Longwood Gardens


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I'll be your wedding day fairy godmother/hype woman. Wanna know a little secret? That little nervous feeling you have about being awkward on camera? Every. Single. Couple. on here felt the exact same way at first. I promise I'll never leave you two hanging. You'll get jaw-dropping ethereal images all while having a freaking blast!

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