So, you’re engaged?!? Congratulations!!! Whether you knew about it or it was completely a surprise, this has to be an exciting time for both of you! Ok, so let’s just pretend the proposal was a surprise. After you’ve alerted everyone, shared your engagement story over and over, and alerted social media (we can’t forget social media), the real work begins. This all important day where you profess your love for one another in front of your dearest family and friends takes some planning. Fast forward a few weeks or months and you’ve determined a wedding date, selected a venue, and maybe have even hired a wedding planner. Next on your list may be interviewing and hiring a photographer. Once you meet with your photographer and make the commitment with him or her, you’ve hopefully added one valuable event to your photography package – The Engagement Session.
Now, before we dig into the details, one of the questions that I receive often is “when should we take photos?” And that’s a great question! I usually recommend taking them six months to one year before the wedding date. If you wait until you are too close to the wedding date, you may become pressed for time when trying to find the best date with your photographer, thus creating unnecessary stress. Also, if you will be using your photos for your save-the-date announcements or in other creative ways, you will need to allow yourself time for your session, editing time for the photographer, and design and delivery of your materials. When my couples have taken photos too early, they came up with fresh ideas months later and wanted to take photos again, which caused them to incur a session fee they would have otherwise avoided. Couples that waited until too close to the wedding date found themselves in a time crunch and the session never happened. Now, the naysayers may say that the engagement session is unnecessary. I’ve even heard of it being referred to as boastful and that the time can be used for something else. I would love to share with you 5 reasons why engagement photos are important.
1- You’re Able To Get To Know Your Photographer
The engagement session is the perfect opportunity to spend some time with your photographer before the wedding day. Let’s face it, on the wedding day there are so many things that happen – hopefully all good of course. Having a relationship with your photographer after having taken engagement photos, will allow you a level of comfort and trust since he or she will be the one wedding professional that is around you for the entire wedding day. In addition to the relationship, it becomes a win-win for both you and the photographer because you will receive images that you can use for your save-the-dates, wedding website, or wedding day display. Your photographer also gets to see how you and your fiancé interact with one another, and can better direct you two into natural, flattering, and authentic poses. While these sessions typically have a time-limit, you aren’t pressed to make the perfect shots happen in a short amount of time like you are on the wedding day.
2- You’re Able To Become Comfortable In Front Of The Camera
Spending 90 minutes (or however long you and your photographer have agreed upon) in front of their camera is the key to preventing stiff and uncomfortable looking photos. The days of the 80s “Stand here, be still and smile” poses are over. No offense to the 80s, we love you! The number one question that I am asked when a couple starts their session is “Okay, what do you want us to do?” This let’s me know they may be a little nervous of the unexpected. I get it, how often do we take professional photos, right? Probably not often since selfies don’t count, so it’s natural to have a feeling of uncertainty in the beginning. When I begin an engagement session, I let the couple know a few things up front about what to expect in order make them relax, and while it may take a few minutes to get into the swing of things, we always get to the point where their true personalities come alive! On occasion, the groom-to-be is not as thrilled as his future bride is to be spending a portion of his morning or afternoon openly showing his affection. So this time to connect on a more personal level can really save valuable time on the wedding day. Consider your wedding photography as an investment in a lifetime of memories. Your ability to relive those moments from the wedding day is most likely what you expect from your photographer and that’s understandable, so ensuring you are comfortable in front of the camera will add value to your experience in the long run. Trust me!
3- Your Session Can Serve As A Hair and Make-Up Trial
When a bride is selecting the wedding professionals that are going to make her even more beautiful on her wedding day, she is not going to go into this agreement blindly. Most brides have a hair and/or make-up trial scheduled prior to the wedding to ensure they have the perfect look on their wedding day. Combining this trial with the engagement session is the perfect opportunity to see how you are going to look on camera on the wedding day (minus the gown). Not only does it serve as a trial, but typically brides that come to their session with professional make-up application feel great about how it is all coming together and have a better understanding of what adjustments, if any, need to be made for the wedding day. Women that typically wear little to no make-up daily may feel overwhelmed about the finished look from a professional make-up artist, but when they see their images it’s almost always a decision they were happy about.
4- Your Session May Be Complimentary
Many wedding photographers include the engagement session in their wedding packaging because as I mentioned previously, we want to get to know you better and understand how you two operate as a couple. Some wedding photographers offer this session as an add-on to the experience. Either way, it’s worth the investment. As photographers, we want to understand if you’re shy, very outgoing, conservative, or funny so that we can best bring out YOU while having you do things that you enjoy! While engagement sessions require a bit of work to plan and prepare for, it’s meant to be a fun, care-free time with you and your sweetie! This is also an opportunity for us to build trust. On the wedding day, there may be many opinions about which family photos you should or should not take, and that’s a personal decision between you and your fiancé. However, the engagement session gets that conversation started, so that on the wedding day, the potential delays and awkward conversations are avoided as much as humanly possible. Can you discuss these details with your photographer outside of the engagement session, absolutely! However, your photographer can usually offer an expert opinion about how much timing is needed to fulfill your desires and this time can be used to talk openly and face-to-face about these things.
If by chance you’ve won a complimentary engagement session at a bridal show, for example, I would still recommend you taking your wedding photographer up on their offer for a session. A few reasons to do this is because it’s usually included in the cost of the wedding package, and since it is complimentary, the price of the wedding package may not change if you decide not to use it. Also, each photographer has their own style and way of giving direction. So the session that you won from a photographer may be completely different from the one your actual photographer offers.
5- You’re Able To Get Creative Photos
How often do you get to do something that you really enjoy with your fiancé where there is a professional photographer there documenting the moment? I say that jokingly but there’s also some truth to it. Your session should be focused on what makes you two click! Think of that first date that you two went on, or things you love to do together, or the special moment when your fiancé proposed, or maybe even the location where you met. There are so many things that you can incorporate into your engagement session to make it fun and unique! Later this week, you will learn creative ways and recommendations on how to use your photos before or during your wedding!
I hope these tips were helpful for you! There’s more great information coming your way from a group of dynamic wedding photographers. This collaborative series started from a desire that each of us has to educate and inspire brides-to-be. We’ve noticed that often times the information that is available to brides rarely comes from photographers and we want to assist in not only capturing the special moments that make up your love story, but also ensuring that you have the most memorable day possible. Make sure you check out the rest of the Blog Series: The Engagement Session to learn other great ideas on preparing for your session! Links will be posted daily!
Monday: “5 Reasons Why Engagement Sessions Are Important” (Terri Baskin)
Tuesday: “Selecting the Perfect Location for You Engagement Session” (Iris Mannings)
Wednesday: “Choosing the Perfect Outfit for Your Engagement Session” (Mecca Gamble)
Thursday: “Reasons Why Professional Make-Up is Important” (Rhea Whitney)
Friday: “Making Your Engagement Session Unique” (Natarsha Wright)
Saturday: “What To Do With Your Engagement Photos” (Kamron Khan)
Enjoyed this post? Leave a comment for a chance to win a surprise gift!! Enter daily by leaving one comment on each writer’s blog post in this series (February 8th-13th). Each comment left enters you into the raffle. Winner will be announced Sunday, February 14th!!!