I have had heaps of couples ask me where to snap engagement or proposal photos in DC. Welp, here you have it folks! Here is my ultimate guide to engagement locations in DC. For Virginia ideas, check out my pervious blog post on Top 5 Northern Virginia Locations.

1. John F. Kennedy Center

I absolutely love the roof of the Kennedy Center. The back of the building never has people on it. Although the building is not open at sunrise, sunset is the perfect backdrop romantic photos. You can also see the Washington Monument in some angles.

2. Georgetown Canals & Waterfront

The Georgetown Waterfront is also perfect for engagement photos. Sunrise or sunset is ideal here! You can take a stroll near the bridge or walk up near the row houses.  There is an ice rink in the winter time or you could also opt to rent a boat near by. The canals are extremely private and charming for a walk near the water. You can wander one of the 3 main bridges and grab coffee after!

3. Lincoln Memorial

Many people don’t know that you need a permit to shoot at the monuments. Pricing and information can be found on the NPS website. Sunrise is best for Lincoln if you want to avoid crowds and get amazing lighting. I also love the tree walkway near the main monument!

4. National Arboretum

If you’re looking for a secret garden for your engagement location, the National Arboretum is it! Dumbarton Oaks or the U.S. Botanical Gardens can also give that garden feel but they do not allow professional photography. In the arboretum, the herb garden and National Columns are the best spot for photos.

5. DC War Memorial

This is just a 10 minute walk from the Lincoln memorial. It is usually private but also requires a permit! No parking close by so be ready for a walk. Sunrise or sunset is ok here!

6. Meridian Hill Park

Meridian Hill Park is the best location for those who like vines, cobblestone and vintage looking colors. The park is least busy at sunrise but sunset also makes for great photos here! The Josephine Butler house next door to this park is also one of my favorite wedding venues in the city!

7. Jefferson Memorial

The same rules apply for permits at the Jefferson memorial. Sunrise is by far the best lighting but you can also capture great sunset photos with less people in the back of the building.

8. Tidal Basin or Haines Point

All around the Tidal Basin is perfect for photos during blossom season but even at sunrise (on the weekend at least) you will get some tourists in your photos! During blossom season, the Kenwood neighborhood is also a great location to snap some pink blooms or you can travel out of the city for some more secluded blossom action! Check out my blog post on cherry blossom locations if you’re planning for some blooms.

9. National Cathedral Gardens

This location is one of my personal favorites! I love the National Cathedral and the gardens are just stunning. You need to file for a permit to shoot here but it’s totally worth it!

10. National Portrait Gallery

This is one of my favorite indoor locations! You really do need to get lucky with the tourist influx so it is best to go on a weekday or Sunday before close.

11. Smithsonian Gardens

This location is ideal because it is right on the mall! You can pick your favorite museum beforehand and maybe even snap some photos on the carousel. Magnolias bloom here in spring right before cherry blossoms but it will likely be cold and a short window!

12. West Capitol

The front of the Capitol, or West Facing, is a great option for sunrise. The lawn at the front of the building is also an obvious choice but the Pennsylvania Ave crosswalk is also fun at sunrise! One thing is for sure, the Capitol Building is stunning inside and out.

13. East Capitol

The back of the Capitol has the best light at sunset but is less crowded in the morning. The building is right near the Supreme Court (which also makes for a stunning backdrop). I would LOVE to get on the Speakers Balcony but you need an escort.

14. Neighborhoods (Dupont, Gtown, Logan Circle)

DC is filled with picturesque neighborhoods. Mt. Pleasant, Logan Circle and Georgetown provide a fun cityscape back drop for any session! Georgetown Campus provides a more gothic real feel and Blagden Alley is also super street chic.

15. Constitution Gardens

I love this little garden! It is best at sunrise both for the light and the people factor!

16. Bars & Hotels

There are some many unique indoor spaces in the city to grab a drink and take photos! Just be sure to ask the staff beforehand! My favorite bars are The Smith, Riggs Cafe, Le Dip and Primrose. Hotels I love are The Line, Hay Adams, The Ritz, Fairmont, The Willard and the Conrad.

16. Library of Congress

I absolutely love the Library of Congress area. It is best in the morning time and has great views of the Capitol. If you love an ornate setting, the inside is also stunning.

17. Tudor Place

Tudor Place is my favorite garden in the city. You can contact them about a permit before shooting and it is well worth it!

18. Wharf

I just love the dock setting at the Wharf. At sunrise, you have the place to yourself! The side streets are cute yet nautical and you can even dip into Del Mar after!

19. Dumbarton Oaks Park

Dumbarton Oaks is a dream… Ok, so technically for hire photography is not allowed inside the gardens but you can go around to the areas surrounding including the Dumbarton House and path starting at Lover’s Lane.

20. Union Station

I just love the colors at Union Station! It is best at sunrise but good in the rain as well!

21. Federal Triangle

The Federal Triangle area looks like Europe! It may be a metro stop but it has very classic vibes! You’re also so close to Cafe Du Parc and the Willard!

22. Rock Creek Park

This is the perfect spot for coupes who love the outdoors! Roosevelt Island would also be another great nature spot in the city!


There you have it folks, the best engagement locations in DC. Some less known places include the Spanish Steps, Embassy Row, Montrose Park and Bartholdi Fountain.  I also adore In Home sessions so if you have a eye for interiors, it’s stay home!

I hope this was helpful for your planning! Remember, sunrise and sunset are the best times for any location. Definitely consider the seasonal look you want for your session as well!

  1. Matt says:

    I’m looking to get engaged in the coming months and have the place all picked out but I am wondering what the best places are that are inside in case it rains. Also the have to be open during COVIS-19. I have found some good options if only they were open during the pandemic. Do you have any ideas? Thanks!


    • Kirstie Tuben says:

      Hi Matt!

      Not sure what vibes you’re looking for and also not sure what’s open during COVID! Maybe hotels? The Line is pretty! Good luck!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *