Some couples wonder if engagement photos are truly necessary.. especially when they are on a budget or one or both don’t particularly like having their pictures taken. So why take engagement photos? (Besides just to document what a good looking couple you are!)
Practical reasons for booking an engagement session are so you can submit a shot to your local paper to announce your engagement. You can use them creatively in your wedding day decor, or give framed prints as gifts to your families.
Need an ultra-practical reason to schedule an engagement photo shoot? It’s a great opportunity to test-drive your wedding photographer and see what their approach and style is. I have found that couples who book an engagement session with me are often more comfortable on the day of the wedding. A rapport is built and stylistic approaches can be.
PHOTOGRAPHY SCHEDULING OPTIONS
- Day one/two: You might want picture of yourselves to commemorate the moment you get engaged – you’ll already be wearing a naturally happy smile and won’t feel the need to “fake it” for the camera… lol.. They don’t need to be fancy .. even a cell phone photo will do.. these are for fun and to informally announce your engagement.
- When you set the wedding date: Schedule a photo shoot early in your engagement if you plan to submit a formal engagement announcement with a photo to your local paper. Be sure to check the paper’s guidelines for specific pose or print quality requirements, which may or may not be listed on the newspaper’s website. You will be able to use the images for the “Save The Date”. If this appeals to you and you’re planning to send guests an early heads-up, have photos taken eight to ten months before the wedding, in time to print and send “Save The Dates” no later than six months before the wedding..
- Two to six months before: Trying out wedding day looks? Schedule hair and makeup trial appointments the same day as your engagement photo session. It is a great opportunity to try out both your MUA and Photographer and work out any kinks.
Advantages to Engagement Session
I offer substantial discounts for couples who book a wedding package with me. I do this for one main reason – to build rapport and it also provides a good opportunity for the couple to see my style and approach with both candid and more posed photographs. In addition it also gives an opportunity for you to go over the photos and let me know which ones you like best. If you haven’t booked your nuptial shutterbug yet, look at engagement photos as a chance to be more comfortable in front of the camera on your wedding day and without wondering what you should be doing, IF you should be doing something at all! I find that couples who have booked an engagement session are more relaxed on their wedding day.
Communicate with your sweetie
Before you call a single photographer, have a heart-to-heart with your sweetie about what kinds of engagement photos you’d like — posed or candid, formal or casual. Again, let your decisions be guided by how you plan to use the pics: Will they be hanging on grandma’s wall, reproduced in black-and-white newsprint, or shrunk down to the size of a quarter for personalized favor stickers? Advance planning will help you make the most of your pictures. Some photo-friendly options to consider for your engagement shoot:
- Outdoors: There’s no need to spend a day cooped up in a photographer’s studio if you don’t want to. Visit to a nearby park, botanical garden, or downtown. I may be able to suggest local sites that make great backdrops for pictures as I am familiar with a lot of great locations.
- Your Home: Your home is your comfort zone and when you’re comfortable, you will look better in the photos. There is also the possibility of photographing in your home and in addition somewhere outdoors. Let me know what you have in mind and we can take it from there.
- Around your world in a day: You can create a meaningful backdrop for your engagement photos by revisiting nearby places that are significant to the two of you: the restaurant where you had your first date, a location which the both of you love, the bus stop where you shared an umbrella -you get the idea. While I am taking your pictures, talk to each other and relive a few of the moments that brought you together: It’s a great recipe for a series of romantic and fun candid shots.
- Get close: You probably don’t need to be persuaded to get close to your fiance, but do plan on being affectionate: hug, hold hands, sling your arm around each other, whisper in each others ears, etc.. . You’re in love and this session is all about showing the world! This is a great time to reflect and express how much you mean to one another and the love that resides between you. Besides, if you’re planning to submit a photo to a newspaper with your announcement, many publications specifically request close-up couple shots.
An engagement photo does not require you to shop for matching outfits. Here are some basic guidelines for dressing the part:
- What to Wear?: Whether you’re going formal or casual, solid colors are encouraged. Try to avoid plaids, florals, patterns, etc… However, there are always exceptions and the most important exceptions are the ones where it reflects who you are! So if plaids are your thing, by all means where plaid! If you’re worried about color, pick a neutral and a few coordinating color tones you both like and bring a few options to the shoot.
Thank you for taking time out to read this and congratulations on finding love. Love is the glue that bonds the sacred connection of two souls together. The level of love you share is special, profound and rare. Something to be in awe of and thankful for. Something to be honored, respected and treated as sacred.
For more information about engagement and wedding photography including tips, check my blog.
Many of these suggestions came from — The Knot
1. Create a ‘Shot List’
One of the most important tips I offer to the bride and groom is to get the couple to think ahead about the shots that they’d like you to capture on the day and compile a list so that you can check them off. This is particularly helpful in the family shots. There’s nothing worse than getting the photos back and realizing you didn’t photograph the happy couple with grandma! In addition this will help both the couple and myself set realistic expectations on the amount of time that is required for the formal portion of their wedding day. In general allot 5 minutes per shot. This means, if you have 20 different shots on your list, allow at around 90 minutes. We may get done earlier, but it is much better (and much less stressful) to get done a little earlier than expected rather than run late. Often the announcements, first dances, etc.. follow the formals and having a tight time constraint will add a lot of stress and the photos will ultimately suffer.
2. Wedding Photography Family Photo Coordinator
I find the formal sessions can be stressful for the bride and groom if things are not well planned or enough time is not allotted for formal pictures. Staging a formal picture of requires time… Attempting to get 30 or so different combinations of people in just 30 minutes is unrealistic… even if we were running it militant style! People are going everywhere, there are different family dynamics at play and people are in a ‘festive spirit’ (and have often been drinking a few spirits) to the point where it can be quite chaotic and not as simple or straightforward as one might think.
I most likely will have an assistant on hand to help, however I like (but do not require) the couple to nominate a family member (or one for each side of the family) who can be the ‘director’ of the shoot – particularly for the large group shots. They can round everyone up, help get them in the shot and keep things moving so that the couple can get back to the party. I will also add that having more time allows for some more candid (informal formals) and interesting pictures as well
3. Scout the Location
Visit the locations of the different places that you’ll be shooting before the big day. While I will make every effort do do so myself, I find it really helpful if the couple has some ideas where we’re going, have an idea of a few positions for shots and are aware how the light might come into play.
4. Allot Enough Time For The Formal Portrait Session
One of the biggest misconceptions I find as a wedding photographer is that notion that formals are boring and can be done in a short amount of time. Formals don’t just involve group shots with wedding party and family – they also include pictures of the bride and groom. On average it takes a minimum of about 45-60 minutes of the bride and groom alone… and that would be if things were running really smoothly without a lot of fuss or very many variations. Unless you are not particularly interested in having formal pictures taken, I suggest 1 hour minimum for the bride and groom alone. Allowing enough time for the formal portion of your wedding day will produce more creative and beautiful images and will make it much more relaxing and enjoyable.
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How much time will you need for your group formals? After you make your list of group shots, allot 5 minutes per grouping. Although getting a picture of the bride and groom with one set of parents may take only a few minutes, getting a picture of the bride and groom with a group of people can take longer. In the end, 5 minutes is a good gauge to use when considering how much time you will need. You may want to consider prioritizing some of the group shots in case we start running out of time, so we get the most important ones checked off first. If there is not going to be a lot of time for formals, the bride and groom may want to consider something called the “Day After Shoot” where the day after the wedding, the bride and groom are photographed (usually in dress and tux or suit). This can provide a more stress-free situation and may be particularly useful if the couple is interested in having a full session just by themselves and getting some creative images.
5. Set up an Engagement Session
Engagement sessions are a wonderful opportunity to get an idea of how things will proceed on your wedding day. Engagement sessions are usually a combination of candid and more formal (staged) pictures. I find it helps the couple to understand what is expected of them and they tend to be much more relaxed and less anxious about getting their formals done on their wedding day.Click on the following link if to see the “Top 5 Engagement Photo Session Questions”.
Thank you for taking time out to read this wedding formals tips and suggestions page. I wrote it with the intention to help make your wedding day as enjoyable and fun as possible. Love is the glue that bonds the sacred connection of two souls together. The level of love you share is special, profound and rare. Something to be in awe of and thankful for. Something to be honored, respected and treated as sacred.
For more information about engagement and wedding photography including tips, check my blog.
What are “After The Wedding, Wedding Formals”?
Sometimes couples, for various reasons, prefer to have their formal wedding pictures as a couple (just bride and groom) taken after the wedding day. Sometimes it is the same location as the wedding venue and sometimes it is in an entirely different location. One of the benefits of having the bride and groom formals on a different day is we can spend more time together in a relaxed atmosphere. Their are no time constraints and the couples can truly relax into the photography session.
I was fortunate enough to be contacted by a wonderful couple – Amara and Jeff – who were looking to have some wedding formals taken here in Syracuse. They did not have a photographer for their wedding, but they wanted to have some formal pictures taken with the groom in his tuxedo and the bride in her wedding gown. They were a wonderful couple and we lucked out with some beautiful Syracuse weather and a sunset on the horizon.
So if you are concerned about time constraints on your wedding day or just prefer to have your couple’s session at a different time and day, “After The Wedding, Wedding Formals” may just be a good option for you!
To view my wedding photography portfolio click on the “Wedding Portfolio” link below.
Here are a few photos from our session together.