If you are planning a wedding, you have probably already found that approximately 1,000,000 people are poised and ready to give you all kinds of advice you don’t need and didn’t ask for. It can be very hard to plan a wedding that is unique to you and your fiancee without falling victim to the traditions and customs pressed upon you by the “Wedding Industry.” Maybe you don’t want to carry a bouquet or cut the cake or wear a suit or have a first dance or have dancing at all. The biggest challenge in wedding planning is sticking to a wedding that is uniquely “you” and being able to say “NO” when others demand things of you or question your choices.
That said, I hear a lot of couples balk when I tell them that I include engagement portrait sessions with all of my wedding packages. For a lot of couples, the idea of “engagement photos” is too traditional, cheesy and old-fashioned. I confess, when I hear the term “engagement photos,” I sometimes picture a perfect young couple posed in a Sears studio smiling innocently at the camera. Try to remember, though, that just like your wedding and your relationship, engagement photos can be whatever you want them to be.
From my perspective as a wedding photographer, there are three real purposes of a photo session before your wedding, which we commonly refer to as “engagement photos.”
1) To get nice pictures of the two of you looking happy and in love.
2) To get to know you better as a couple, your quirks, what makes you laugh, and what kinds of photos you’re interested in so that I can better photograph your wedding.
3) To get you warmed up and comfortable with being photographed as a couple so that on your wedding day, there are no photo jitters!
Traditionally, engagement photos were used to announce a couple’s engagement to the world. In my business, an engagement portrait session is a private session where I can get to know my clients in a place that they love so that the three of us are comfortable working together when the Big Day arrives. It’s a valuable get-to-know-you session that goes a long way in getting everyone prepared for a full day of Wedding Photography down the road. And yes, we get dozens and dozens of wonderful photos, too!
I suggest that if you are uncomfortable with the idea of “an engagement portrait session,” to think of it instead as a chance to get to know your photographer, see her at work, get a sense of her style and sensibility, and have a fun 45 minutes with your sweetheart. Choose a location that is special to the two of you – a favorite park, a favorite restaurant, your own backyard, the beach or the city. Throw formalities aside and have fun! When the wedding day comes, you’ll feel relaxed, comfortable, and ready to be photographed from dawn to dusk with your sweetie’s hand in yours. And likely, your mother will be thrilled to have a nice photo of the two of you that wasn’t take at a bar 🙂