Engagement sessions aren't usually met with too many questions, aside from what to wear and where to shoot (always important decisions!). And really, when it comes to planning a fantastic engagement session, there are no hard and fast rules, since there are many different ways to make your engagement session a success.
But first, there's something important to address - sometimes couples really don't know why they should do engagement photos at all, or how it will benefit them. They might see an engagement session as just an additional cost and item on the To Do list. So I'll begin by explaining why everyone should have an engagement session, and how it's so, SO much more than you might realize! :)
Why should I do engagement photos? We'll get photos at the wedding!
Aside from the fact that they are super fun (seriously), there are three main reasons I strongly suggest that couples do engagement photos.
The first is that it's a really great way to get to know your wedding photographer (aka, me!) before your wedding day, and get a little practice relaxing in front of the camera. It's also helpful for me to have that extra time photographing and getting to know each of my couples, to see what they're like together in general and while being photographed, and be able to really communicate that through photos - every couple is unique, and that extra time getting to know one another lets me really see what makes you two you. Also, the majority of people are not overly eager to jump in front of the camera, but when you're able to get to know me and experience how easy it actually is to be my subject and relax a little about the whole process (because you've seen how awesome you look in your engagement photos!), it will make you that much more comfortable on your wedding day, and you'll be able to be comfortable and relaxed despite the tight timeline and everything going on. It benefits both of us to have that experience before showtime on the big day. :)
The second reason you should do an engagement session is that - while your wedding is going to be spectacular, and is an incredibly important event - it's not the only part of your relationship worth celebrating. You aren't just bride and groom, you're two people, who have formed a really special relationship and who live real life together, and your engagement session is the perfect time to focus on this. Not a big (wonderful) event, but two people. Who you are together. The reason the wedding is happening. An engagement session is a chance to just relax and spend time being a couple and capturing the love you share, with no time constraints and no stress and no one interrupting to wish you well or remind you that it's time for the next event. It's different than the wedding day, and the perfect complement.
The third reason engagement photos are important is that you'll use them! Many couples use them on a save-the-date, but even if you don't, engagement photos are perfect for displaying at the wedding (often near the gift table, seating chart, guest book, and other details), or at an engagement party, or for gifting to parents and grandparents. Engagements are special occasions in their own right, and so worth documenting and celebrating! There's nothing quite like the excitement that comes with getting engaged and the anticipation of officially beginning the next stage of life as a married couple.
And... there's actually a fourth bonus reason to do engagement photos: they're included for no additional cost in each of my wedding collections (except for the elopement collection). ;)
Making the most of your engagement session
So, now that you know why you should do engagement photos, here are a few ways that you can make the most of your engagement session. These aren't rules in any way, just ideas for how to get photos that you really love. If an idea isn't for you, that's totally fine! An engagement session is supposed to be about who two people are, and that's going to look different for everyone.
- Choose two outfits
Sometimes, you'll only want one, and that is completely fine. But this is the session when you have plenty of time and flexibility to switch it up partway through, so if you have any inclination to have a wardrobe change, do it!
- Plan a Date
If you're struggling with deciding on a location, it might mean you should change your approach. Instead of picking the most beautiful spot in nature, you can choose a location that's meaningful to the two of you, or plan your perfect evening out together. Maybe you love getting ice cream and walking the boardwalk at the beach. Maybe you love taking your dog to the park together. Maybe you love hiking or biking together, or spending the day at home cooking or watching a movie, or getting coffee and exploring a new area. Seriously, any one of these dates would make for a fantastic engagement session. You can't go wrong finding an activity to incorporate and planning your session around that.
- Get your hair and makeup professionally done
This is by no means a requirement, but your engagement session can be a great time to 'try out' a hair and makeup artist that you are considering. It's not going to be quite the same look as your wedding hair and makeup of course, but it is a great chance to meet someone, see if they'll be a good fit for your wedding day, and also have your hair and makeup professionally styled for your photos. If it works out schedule-wise, it's a win-win!
- Be yourself
Yes, this sounds totally corny. But it's true, and really important! Are the two of you goofy together? Then you should be having fun and laughing during your session. Are you romantic and snuggly? Then snuggle each other and show that! Do you totally hate PDA? Then tell me and we will find the perfect balance for you - your photos will show you love each other, but there are plenty of ways to show that besides more physical touch than you care to show in public. ;) I am not here to make couples all look like some imaginary Engaged Couple that exists in someone's imagination or maybe on Pinterest - I am here to tell your story, to show who you two are together, and to celebrate that. Whatever exactly it looks like. Your session should reflect two individual personalities coming together as one awesome couple. Come prepared to act like yourselves!
I hope knowing why engagement photos are so important - and how to have an incredible session - can help you as you plan and prepare for your session day! Never hesitate to get in touch with me for specific questions. I'm here to make your experience stress-free, easy, and fun! :)