Why Take Engagement Photos (and What to Do With Them When You Do)
Once the big question has been asked—many more bubble up. Deciding to spend your life together is the exciting part—and so is wedding planning—but it also requires many financial, lifestyle and family decisions. If you're putting together your budget, you may wonder: why take engagement photos? And are they worth it? What do I do with them after the fact?
In truth, nothing is absolutely necessary for your wedding except for the person you're marrying. The rest of it, in the end, are details. But for many couples, engagement photos are an essential (and super fun) experience as you prepare for your special day.
Here, a guide to the benefits of engagement photos, how to use them during (and following) your wedding, and more.
In this article:
Are Engagement Photos Necessary?
When photography is one of the most expensive — and important — investments you make for your wedding, it could be essential to have an engagement session, says
Leah Huete, the owner of L Hewitt Photography. "After photographing over 350 weddings, I often find that the couples who have the best experience being photographed and come away with the most beautiful photos are the ones who have done an engagement session with me," she says.
Not only can you use the images for your wedding materials, but they often become keepsakes you will look back on for years. That said, as with any vendor for your wedding, it's crucial to find the right photographer that feels comfortable, friendly and easy to be around.
As you read through reviews from other couples, Huete recommends looking through previous sessions in the photographer's portfolio and trying to avoid a boring, posed, standard approach. "Your photographer should help you to dream and bring true imagination and depth of feeling to your photos and love story," she adds.
Beyond their body of work, Hewitt says it's vital to click with their personality when you're looking for photographers. "If you're not used to being in front of the camera, you don't want to end up with someone quiet who gives you no instruction or someone who is too boisterous and overwhelms you," she says. "Look for someone who matches your personality style and will compliment you and bring out your best."
Why You Should Take Engagement Photos
If you're on the fence about hiring an engagement photographer, you may be further convinced by looking into a session's overall benefits. Here, we outline a few that make a difference in the short and long term.
They help you get comfortable in front of the camera.
Though some people have a long history of posing in front of a camera, for most of us, having the click-click-flash for an extended time is a new experience. Huete says one of the initial perks of engagement sessions is they allow you to get comfortable in front of the camera. That way, when your wedding arrives, it isn't the first time you're photographed.
"It takes time for most people to warm up to being photographed," Huete says. "And on a wedding day, timelines can be tight, which is why I've found that doing an engagement session ahead of time can be a real help when it's time for your wedding portraits."
They allow your photographer to get to know your dynamic.
In addition to helping you learn how to strike a pose, position your face or let go, an engagement session is also an informational session for your photographer. During this time, a good photographer will pay attention and note how you interact with each other naturally, says Jessica Feiden, a wedding photographer. This helps them to catch candid, memorable moments and learn the best way to provide direction.
They provide the opportunity for feedback.
When you shop for your wedding dress, you may be surprised that what you thought you wanted… isn't actually what you feel the most beautiful wearing. And, while you might have a menu in mind, once you stumble across a new caterer, you suddenly have a whole new vision.
The same can be true about your hopes and dreams for wedding photography, and taking engagement photos is helpful because you learn what you like and maybe what you don't like, says Sarah Olson, the owner of CityLux Studios.
As an example, Olson once had a couple give feedback after their engagement session that they didn't like any form of intimacy in their images. So when their wedding day came, they did exactly that. "They had more serious poses, only holding hands, no hugging, and no kissing. And their wedding photos were absolutely perfect for them," she continues. "If we didn't have that feedback from their engagement session, there is a strong possibility that they may not have loved their wedding photos as much."
They allow you to experiment.
Another benefit is the ability to experiment and test different looks, vibes, themes and approaches during your engagement session. Huete says it could be an ideal time to book your makeup and hair trial so you get a sense of how it photographs. And, if you won't have time on your wedding day for dramatic and imaginative images with your partner, your engagement session is a way to bring those to life. "You can take photos of the two of you in more cinematic, creative, experimental or artistic ways," she adds.
What to Do With Engagement Photos
Part of the reason many couples invest in photography for their wedding is for the memory. These become timeless treasures that generations will admire for years to come. But what about engagement photos? What do you do with them? A few ideas include:
On Social Media
If you have your engagement photo shoot early enough, you can use the photos to officially announce your engagement on social media. If you're already shared your engagement news with the world, you can feature your engagement photos on social media for other occasions—your partner's birthday, the 100-day countdown to your big day and more.
For the Guest Book
One of Huete's favorite ways to share engagement photos is in the wedding guest book. As she puts it, it is a really fun way to celebrate the two of you and for your guests to reminisce and leave fun comments for you to read later. "The buzz from a hundred people commenting about how hot you guys look is always the best feeling, and the book becomes a special keepsake for you after the wedding," she adds.
For Your Wedding Website
These days, more and more couples are opting to have a dot com for their wedding. A wedding website not only provides guests with essential information for the event but also is a place to share your love story and, of course, photos! "With little to no time for setup, it is the perfect time to find your favorite spot, sit together and design your web pages with your love story told in text and images," recommends Jen Sulak, the lead wedding photographer at Weirdo Weddings. "Give yourself a mixture of silly and serious images, and share it with all of your loved ones."
For Save-the-Dates and Invitations
Engagement photos are a terrific way to personalize your save-the-dates and wedding invites, says photographer Siobhan Becker. "The images can produce a unified design that embodies your wedding's style and theme," she says. "You can include your images on the front of your save-the-date card or use them as the backdrop for your invitation. This is a wonderful way to tell your love story to your guests and get them pumped for your special day."
Lastly, and perhaps most meaningfully, your engagement photos are part of your relationship's journey. And they can eventually become framed photographs in the home you share as a family, Feiden says. "Your engagement session allows you to showcase your love story more creatively. This means you can photograph in a location meaningful to the two of you — whether it's where you met, the city your relationship blossomed in, or a location that holds a special meaning for the two of you," she says.
Then you can print the beautiful images of the two and place them in your home (or in a photo album!), showcasing a specific location/scene that plays a part in your love story.