When you first get engaged and start researching wedding photographers, you will likely notice that many of them also offer engagement photo shoots. You and your fiancé(e) might be wondering whether you should do an engagement photo session. I highly recommend them!
Some wedding photographers will include an engagement shoot in one or more of their wedding packages, or they may offer it as an add-on service. Having your engagement session with the same photographers who will shoot your wedding gives you an extra opportunity to get to know them and get comfortable with them.
It can be somewhat awkward to have a professional photo shoot. You don’t really know how to pose yourself, you don’t know what to do with your hands, and you have to smile A LOT. If you do an engagement shoot with your wedding photographers, you’ll already know them when your wedding day arrives, and you’ll likely be more relaxed, which will show up in your photos.
There are wedding photographers who love shooting weddings but don’t love shooting engagements. Those photographers generally either don’t offer engagement shoots or they charge absurdly high rates for them, hoping to discourage couples from hiring them for an engagement shoot. So if you’re considering a photographer and it seems like they charge an awful lot for an engagement shoot, they might fall into this camp. You can still hire them for your wedding, but feel free to look elsewhere for an engagement photographer.
You also aren’t required to use the same photographer for both your engagement shoot and your wedding day. You could book a photographer just for the engagement shoot as sort of a try-out. Maybe you’ll then decide to also hire them for your wedding, or maybe you’ll decide to go a different route.
Also consider having your engagement photos done while you’re traveling somewhere fun. If you’re going to Europe (or anywhere, really), you can easily find a local photographer to do your shoot. They won’t be the same photographer shooting your wedding (unless you want to pay for them to travel to do so), but it will certainly make for some memorable photos!
Social media makes finding a photographer really easy, even in cities you’ve never been too. Just search, for example, #newyorkcityengagement, #parisengagementphotos, #romeweddingphotographer, or similar to find accounts of photographers you can consider hiring. You can follow the steps in my previous post about how to find a wedding photographer.
What can you do with your engagement photos
One of the most popular uses for engagement photos is on save-the-date cards, sent out to your planned invitees well in advance of the wedding to let them know that they should mark that date off their calendars and start thinking about making travel plans, if necessary.
Save-the-date cards should be mailed fairly early—at least 9 months before a wedding taking place outside the country, and 6 months before a domestic wedding. Even if most of your guests won’t have to travel to your wedding, you may want to send save-the-dates anyway.
If you want to use one or two engagement photos on your save-the-dates, you’ll need to schedule the photo shoot 9-12 months before your wedding. You need time to schedule the shoot and have it, wait for the photographers to process and send you the images, and then order and receive the save-the-dates. So prior planning is a must!
Another popular use for engagement photos is on your wedding website. I previously wrote about why it’s a good idea to have a wedding website. Your main page should have a nice photo of you and your fiancé(e), and you can also use them to tell your “story” as a couple. It’s easy to sprinkle photos of yourselves throughout your wedding website, and some sites allow you to create an entire photo album online if you want to share all the photos.
Two fun ways to incorporate your engagement photos into your wedding day are to make an album and ask guests to sign the pages, or have a few photos custom matted and ask guests to sign the mat around the photos. Then you can frame your guest book and hang it on the wall in your home.
Even if you don’t want to use the photos as your guest book, you can also display a few framed engagement photos on your guest book table, so your guests can appreciate them.
If you really just don’t have the budget to do an engagement photo shoot, then I recommend finding a friend or family member with a nice camera who knows how to use it. (By which I mean they know how to shoot in manual, they understand depth of field and the exposure triangle, and they have a good grasp of composition.) Ask them to do a mini-photo session with you. Being engaged is a special time, and you’ll want to commemorate it in some way, even if it’s not a full-blown engagement shoot.
Questions? Ask in the comments!
TL;DR here’s the video link
This post was written by Sacramento wedding planner Risa Weaver-Enion. If you're feeling overwhelmed by planning your wedding, we are here for you! Read more about what we do on our Welcome and Packages pages. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or want to inquire about getting help with wedding planning. And if you'd like to have future blog posts delivered to your inbox, please join our Insider’s Club on the Welcome page.