Till this day, my wedding engagement pictures are my favorite photos my husband and I have ever taken. I refer to them regularly or at least a few times a year. I love going back through them and reliving the moment we spent two hours on the beach laughing with our photographer and posing awkwardly making it an experience I’ll never forget. The beach is one of the most special places to me. It fuels a different sense of peace and happiness that I can only experience in it’s presence with my toes in the sand and the ocean breeze flowing through my hair. I’m not gonna lie, the engagement session felt weird at first because I’m not used to being front of the camera. However if you hire a professional specialized in making you feel comfortable in front of the lens that quickly disappears.
In this post I’ll explain what your wedding engagement pictures are and the purpose in doing them aside from the incredible photos you get as a result. There is nothing to hide about being in love and relishing in the fact that you’ve made one of the most sacred decisions you can make as a couple is something to catalog. You’ll be spending forever together and why not document that incredibly forthcoming commitment.
What is an engagement session?
A wedding engagement session is a photo shoot between yourself and your wedding photographer that happens well before the big day. Together with your photographer and planner you’ll come up with a location and the game plan for your engagement session. You’ll discuss looks, locations, props and most importantly discuss your preferences and ideas for your wedding photos.
Did you know? “The first-ever issue of The New York Times, published in September 1851, included a wedding announcement.” Source: The Atlantic, “The Rise of the Engagement Shoot”
Why should you have an engagement session?
There are several reasons for an engagement session, but my favorite reason of all is to simply get to know your photographer. Your photographer will be spending more time with you on your wedding day than you will with your partner. Basically they are your shadow on your wedding day so it’s important that you take advantage of the engagement session to gain familiarity with the person that will be in your face nonstop. People naturally shy away from the camera or get into awkward positions as soon as they know they are being filmed. To make sure your photos come out as natural and candid as possible, you want to get comfortable with your photographer. The more time you spend together the more comfortable you’ll be with them documenting your every move on your wedding day.
Engagement photos are no different than someone wanting to document their graduation, take family photos or simply take Christmas photos with your fur babies. While it’s rare to print these days, these photos nonetheless serve as a catalog of a milestone in your life.
When should you have the engagement session?
For my clients, I like to plan the engagement session around the time that we plan to send save the dates. The reason for that is with Save the Dates comes the wedding website that we design and create so guests can be directed to more information about the big day. These days we are accustomed to having ALL the information instantly. Websites are uber helpful in helping guests from out of town make an informed decision on whether or not they can make it to the big day or may need to make special travel plans.
Here is an example of a timeline and engagement session I put together for a client I worked with last year. Their wedding was in October and we started working together in February so we were on a shorter than normal timeline. I had roughly 8 months but the first two months were spent putting the plan together from the budget to the design and then the last two months are spent wrapping up so we had about 4 months to get this all dialed in. You should never move full force into planning without a plan- it’ll cost you a lot of time and money in the end. If they didn’t have me to put it all together for them I would have been worried.
We were on a time crunch so we bypassed all the research and vetting required to look for a photographer by using my preferred photographer that fit with my clients style and budget. This allowed us to start planning the engagement session in March and also planned for the engagement session to happen in March.
While this was all happening I worked on the save the dates (design, guest list, and execution). I keep a secured CC on file for all my clients so this saved us a lot of back and forth so we could move forward quickly on to the next step. In conjunction with the save the dates I was also putting together their website based on the design I put together so that it was all branded and cohesive.
While my clients went shopping for their outfits and the photographer scouted locations, I completed the save the dates and the website so that when we received the photos back from our photographer we would be able to pop those on to the site and then send out the save the dates. It normally takes photographers 2 months to edit but we didn’t have that time. But because we used someone I have a great relationship with he was able to send us a few photos so we could get those up on the site so we could send the save the dates.
If you’re on a time crunch try to make your wedding engagement pictures experience as efficient as possible. Here are the steps.:
Hire photographer (scout locations)
Hire hair and makeup artist (trial your hair and makeup looks)
Create a branded look for the shoot (clothes, shoes)
Create branded save the dates
Create branded website
Pro Tip: Avoid bright colors as they don’t translate well in photos and try to wear clothes that are natural to the environment you’re in. I.e. Heels at the beach are impossible so the photos will looked very forced if you attempt to make this work. Be yourself and be comfortable.
Friends, if you’re trying to figure out if you should do an engagement session or not, PLEASE DO. And if you’re looking for support to help you plan this whole production, we encourage you to fill out your info below. Especially if you’re are planning a short time window, consider sourcing help. We’d love to see if we could be of service.