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 ultrapractical 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: Take a picture of yourselves to commemorate the moment you get engaged — you’ll already be wearing a photogenically (and naturally) happy smile!
- First month: Schedule a photo shoot early in your engagement if you plan to submit a formal engagement announcement with a photo to your local paper. (Check your paper’s guidelines for specific pose or print quality requirements, which are often listed on the newspaper’s website.)
- When you set the wedding date: Have a photo taken for your wedding website or save-the-date — many couples incorporate photos of themselves into the design. If this trend 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.
- Six to eight months before: You can also take engagement pictures once you’ve booked your wedding photographer or when you’re narrowing down your final choices (which should occur when your planning countdown hits the eight-months-prior mark).
- Three months before: If you plan to submit a shot with your newspaper wedding announcement, check their guidelines for specifics and schedule a picture-taking session at least three months before the wedding. Larger newspapers ask to receive wedding submissions up to six weeks before the event, and you’ll want to factor in four to six weeks before that deadline to see your proofs and make prints.
- Two months before: Trying out wedding day looks? Schedule hair and makeup trial appointments the same day as your engagement photo session to capture a preview of your wedding day fabulousness on film (you could do the salon in the morning and the photo studio in the afternoon). Factor in some in-between time for damage control, on the off chance that the salon results aren’t as great as you hoped.
Who Calls the Shots?
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.
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:
- Bring it outside: 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 arboretum or botanical garden, or hit your favorite downtown landmark. I may be able to suggest local sites that make great backdrops for pictures too. Talk about locations you like when you contact me to make your appointment.
- Make yourself at home: Your home is your comfort zone and when you’re comfortable, you look better on camera. There is also the possibility of photograhing in your home and in addition somewhere outdoors.
- 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, the ice cream shop you frequent on Sundays, the bus stop where you shared an umbrella — you get the idea. While the camera’s snapping, retell your best couple stories and relive a few of the moments that brought you together: It’s a blue-ribbon recipe for a series of romantic, fun candids.
- 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. You’re in love, show it off! 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.
Ready, Dressed, Go
An engagement photo does not require you to shop for matching outfits — you’re getting married, not becoming the Bobbsey Twins. But clashing plaids and flashing bling do not make a pretty picture. Here are some of our basic guidelines for dressing the part:
- The duds: Whether you’re going formal or casual, solid colors are encouraged. Try to avoid plaids, florals, patterns, and head-to-toe black or white clothing — and keep the silhouettes streamlined. However, there are always exceptions and the most important exceptions are the ones where it reflects who you are in an authentic way. Some couples coordinate their clothing palettes to the point of looking a bit matchy, but there’s no need to go overboard. If you’re worried about color, pick a neutral and a few coordinating color tones you both like (gray with blue and violet for instance, or brown with pink and blue), and stick to those hues.
- The details: Keep your jewelry ultrasimple to avoid flashy distractions in your pics. For men, that means leave your watch and your pinky ring on the dresser. Women should stick to unfussy earrings with a simple necklace or bracelet (or one statement piece), and your engagement ring. Of course if wearing jewelry is important to how you want your overall look to come across, then by all means where it. Just be aware that reflections could cause some distractions is some pictures… not really that big of a deal.
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