I have been there. You are planning your wedding, you are busy, your life doesn’t stop just because you are getting married in 6 (or 12 or 18 or 24) months. You still have to go to work, pay bills, see your friends… who has time for an engagement session? And frankly, who wants to make time? Certainly not your fiancé, whose expression was more daggers than delight when you suggested it.
But here’s the thing about engagement sessions: they have the potential to be awesome in every way! In fact, I believe in their powers of good so deeply that I offer a complimentary engagement session with each of my wedding packages. If that’s not enough to convince you of their greatness please read on:
1. Engagement Sessions are great practice:
-This is probably the argument you’ve heard before (and that’s because it’s true!) The engagement session is the only time you two get the chance to practice being photographed being romantic together with your photographer before the wedding. Are either of you professional models? Oh, both of you are? Then maybe you don’t need an engagement session (in which case see numbers #2 and #3,) but for the rest of us who don’t have our portraits taken on a regular basis it can be daunting to be in front of a camera. Especially being affectionate with our partner. By doing an engagement session with your photographer you three get used to each other. Your photographer learns what makes you two tick as a couple and you two learn how to relax and be yourselves in a totally unnatural state (being photographed.) By the time your wedding rolls around (be it a year or a week after your session,) you have had the experience of being photographed by this stranger being lovey-dovey with your fiancé and you can relax and enjoy your wedding day… It’s the happiest day of your life, remember? You shouldn’t be stressed out about the photos, just excited!
2. Engagement sessions are really fun!
-Engagement sessions are my favorite. We get to do all of the editorial, romantic shots of the wedding day in a relaxed environment without the rigid time limits of the wedding day itself. I always tell my couples that the engagement session is just you two on a (pg-rated) date that I capture on film. I’ll admit it, most couples find getting ready that morning to be stressful (“You’re wearing THAT!?” “We’re late! We have to find parking!” , etc.) but by the time we actually get started on the shoot it’s so much fun! We’re doing something that you two otherwise may not make time to do (walk the Brooklyn Bridge on a gorgeous day, have a picnic, take your dog to a new park, make homemade pizza, explore a gorgeous part of town, etc.) and you are both dressed fabulously. I guarantee that you will feel closer to your partner after the session. I must admit that I return home from engagement sessions so completely in love with love!
3. Engagement sessions are memories!
-After our wedding I wanted to put up our wedding photos all over the house. My husband was concerned that I was turning the place into a shrine to the wedding. This was a legitimate concern. I really, really, loved our wedding photos and we never got to do an engagement session (which is one reason we had an anniversary session a few years later to break up the bridal portraits on the wall…) It is so nice to have some beautiful images of the two of us on the wall where we’re dressed as we actually do, looking really happy, in love and NOT in our wedding outfits.
Most of us don’t have that many professional images taken of ourselves so we end up going a bit overboard when we finally do have some (the wedding shots.) Here is where engagement sessions are especially useful: as an opportunity to have beautiful lifestyle portrait memories of you and your love as you actually are at this time in your life and not just in your wedding clothes. It’s nice to mix up those white dress/tux photos with a few of you in your favorite jeans/shirt/cocktail dress spending time in one of your favorite parks/cafés/streets.
So you’ve done your engagement session, now what to do with the photos?
-If you have more than month before your wedding than I recommend getting an guestbook using your photos. Here are some photos of one of my favorite e-sessions as set in a beautiful, layflat engagement guestbook. You can use this as a place for signatures/messages from your guests or just as a lovely little token to be placed next to your thumbprint/globe/other cool guestbook on your big day:
-Save the dates! Need I say more?
-Your Wedding Website! Class it up on that wedding website so that your internet savvy grandma (remember she’s on facebook, guys) has something else to look at but badly lit snapshots of the two of you with those beer hats from your college days
-Gifts! Photos from your engagement session make great family gifts! …and Mother’s Day is right around the corner…
-Prints, of course! As mentioned in #3, this is your opportunity to decorate your home with photos of the two of you looking fabulous and NOT just in your wedding clothes. Don’t underestimate the creepiness factor of a house-as-wedding-shrine.
Now I know that some photographers do not give complimentary engagement sessions… In fact, I doubt that most of them do. Perhaps you don’t feel your budget can swing it. I know we didn’t. You may be planning a destination affair in which case it isn’t really possible to have an e-session with your photographer. In either of these cases I can completely understand where you are coming from. If you’ve chosen a great photographer with whom you have a good rapport your wedding day photos will still be gorgeous, but if you have the opportunity, can afford it and can make the time for an engagement session I know you won’t regret it!
Whether or not you decide to do an engagement session I wish you such a wonderfully happy engagement and planning period – enjoy it as much as you can – it goes by so fast!