There are a lot of “shoulds” when planning a wedding. The wedding industry is constantly trying to tell people what is proper, what is traditional, what they should be doing, what they shouldn’t be doing. In reality, almost anything goes when planning a wedding. Want to have a donut bar instead of a sit down dinner? Go for it! Want to elope instead of having a fancy wedding? Go for it! Don’t want to wear white? Wear whatever you want!
I generally try to avoid any “should” articles, unless I feel strongly about them. But one thing I feel strongly about are getting engagement photos done, preferably by your wedding photographer. Or, at the very least, a professional photographer. At first glance, that might seem pretty self-serving, but hear me out. A lot of photographers include engagement photos in their wedding packages. Why? A few reasons:
1. It helps you & your partner relax.
Most people are not used to being photographed professionally. No matter how “unphotogenic” and/or awkward you might think you are, practice really does make perfect. Getting used to the way your wedding photographer photographs you lets you be less stressed on the day of the wedding. And, in general, professional wedding photographers have more experience in posing couples, thus they can spend more of their energy getting you both comfortable and having fun. I find this point especially important if you or your partner are not very “into” the idea of photos. If they have the engagement session before the wedding to see that posing and having photos done isn’t so bad, they will be more open and willing on the wedding day where things are more rushed, and potentially more stressful.
2. It helps you figure out if your wedding photographer’s style is right for you.
Different photographers have different styles. Different styles of editing, posing, interacting with you & your partner, different shooting styles, etc. I do not expect my clients to be able to fully visualize themselves in the engagement photos I show on my site. It’s hard to know what you will like fully until you are photographed by your photographer. An engagement session allows you to see the photographer’s style with you in the photos. If you find that you don’t like the way X looks, or don’t like the style of X, then it’s a lot better to find that out before the wedding than after and be stuck with wedding photos that bother you for the rest of your life. Think of it as a “trial run” for the wedding. It’s also a great way to find out what poses & angles you don’t like, so your photographer can avoid those on the wedding day when things are a lot more rushed.
3. It gives you confidence.
Because most people aren’t used to being professionally photographed, they also are mostly used to seeing friends’ snapshots which may or may not be the most flattering photos in the world. Being professionally photographed is completely different in nearly every aspect. Photographers are trained on how to make people look good. Even I was a bit nervous to get our engagement photos back- not because I doubted our photographer’s skills, but because I am just not used to seeing myself professionally photographed. Yes, even a professional photographer isn’t used to being professionally photographed! I was pleasantly surprised on how good I looked in our photos (because of our photographer’s skills) and I feel better going into my wedding by having an engagement session done.
4. It gives you casual, fun photos that reflect you & your partner that might not be possible on the wedding day.
My husband & I wanted our wedding in Sedona, which we always loved. We go hiking as much as we can there. We couldn’t afford a Sedona wedding, so instead we had a Sedona engagement session. Maybe you & your fiance met or had a first date at a particular coffee shop. It might not be possible to get photos taken on your wedding day at that coffee shop, but you bet we can stop by there to grab some photos of the two of you having fun where you first met during your engagement session. Or maybe you want your dogs in the photos but your venue doesn’t allow it? Take them to your engagement session instead!
6. Engagement photos make great guestbook /sign in albums/ save the date / invitations.
Wondering what to do after you get your engagement session is done? Besides getting prints engagement photos make great guest sign in albums, save the dates & invitations. A lot of people also print them and put them on reception tables as centerpieces.
So before you have your friend with a nice camera take those engagement photos, or you ask to take that free engagement session out of your wedding photographer’s package, strongly consider the above points and see if it would benefit you. I would venture to guess that 99% of the time, it’s worth doing, even if it’s only a week before the wedding!