It is not uncommon for one of the biggest-ticket items of a modern wedding to be the photography, especially in today’s world of wedding hashtags, Facebook albums, and lifestyle blogs. But I have a confession to make: I was way more excited about my engagement photos than I was about my actual wedding photos. Gasp!
I realize wedding photography today is quite fun and you don’t necessarily have to go the “traditional” route, but I believe engagement photos are often a better reflection of the individual couple because they tend to be more casual and have less expectations. If you plan to take engagement photos, here are five questions to ask yourself before the session to ensure you’ll end up with results to cherish forever.
1. How are you planning to use your photos?
Source: Julia Franzosa Photography
This is perhaps the most important thing to ask yourself when planning your engagement session because it can affect the style and number of photos you want. Are you using them for your save-the-dates? If so, you might want to include something with your wedding date in at least one photo. Are you planning to make a photo book to use as your guest book at the wedding? Then you might want to take a variety of photos, including different locations and/or outfits. An engagement session can also be a good opportunity to get a few professional solo shots of each of you, especially if you could use a new headshot.
2. Who will take your photos?
Source: The Amber Studio
Unlike the day of your wedding, when there is a lot of pressure to capture certain moments at just the right time, engagement sessions are typically more informal and casual. Therefore, pretty much anyone you feel comfortable with can take your engagement photos. But if you want a more professional shoot, an engagement session can be a wonderful opportunity to “test run” your wedding photographer.
An engagement session creates a fun environment for you and your photographer to get to know each other, which will make you both feel more natural and comfortable on the day of the wedding. Depending on the timing and your contract, using your wedding photographer for your engagement photos can also confirm whether or not you are happy with the photographer’s final work. Many wedding photographers include an engagement session in their wedding package, but some charge an extra fee, so be sure to explore options if you go the professional route.
3. Where and when will you take them?
Source: Adrienne Gunde Photography
Do you want the location of the session to be somewhere significant to you—perhaps the place you met or where you had your first date—or is it more important that the setting is simply beautiful? If you want to take engagement photos in multiple locations, be sure to discuss this with your photographer ahead of time (as there may be travel fees). And if you already live together, your own home can be a wonderful place to take unique, special photos.
The “when” is more important if you are doing an outdoor shoot, especially if you want to capture a particular season. Many engagements now last longer than a year, so you may consider taking your engagement photos in the season in which you plan to marry. For example, a couple planning a winter wedding might have fun frolicking in the snow for their engagement session, or a summer wedding couple could head down to the beach for a sunny shoot.
4. Will you include props?
Source: Blue Rose Studios
Props are definitely not required for a fun engagement shoot, but some couples love them! Props are also one of the best ways to inject your own personality into your photos. Did you meet at a coffee shop? Stop by to pick up your favorite drinks and write each other a sweet note on the cup! Do you both love Harry Potter? Throw on a Gryffindor scarf or slide your engagement ring onto a wand! Do you love to travel, read, walk your dog, go to the movies, study together? Consider incorporating items representing your favorite activities or memories for fun and personal photos.
5. What will you wear?
Source: Katelyn James
There are no rules about what to wear during your engagement photos. Some couples prefer to go the formal route, some like to wear their everyday clothing, and some choose to dress somewhere in between. Where you take your photos will definitely impact what you wear: If you are climbing a glacier, for example, you will probably dress more casually, but if you are taking photos at a fancy hotel, you might slip on a nice dress. Or, maybe you purposefully want to create a contrast by wearing an evening gown in a meadow. The possibilities are endless!
Whatever you wear, it is most important that it is both comfortable and flattering. You should be able to enjoy the session without constantly tugging or tucking your clothing, and you also want to be able to look back on the photos later and think, “I look good!” For this reason, I recommend wearing tried-and-true favorites, rather than going out and purchasing new clothes solely for your engagement photos. (If you really want a cute new outfit, consider wearing it at least once before your session to ensure you love it as much in real life as you did in the dressing room.)