A few months ago, I had drinks with a friend who, like me, was planning her wedding cross country. She had shared her beautiful engagement pictures from around DC on social media earlier in the day so when we got together, I asked her if she hired a local photographer for her pictures. She explained how she flew her photographers out to DC because it was more cost efficient than hiring a local photog. I won't share the cost she shared but I will say my last flight to SF was around $400.
I couldn't help it and blurted out, "OMG why?" She asked, "why what?" Here's my chance to redeem myself. I clarified, "why did you take engagement pictures?" What I really meant was, what's the point of that substantial extra cost for an engagement shoot?
Her response? "For the wedding! Duh!" Okay, so she didn't say duh but I'm sure she was thinking it.
I still needed more clarification so I asked, “but, like for what exactly?” She planned to “use them for her save the dates” and “for the wedding”. At this point, I already knew I was going to make my own save the dates and I couldn’t ask again about what “for the wedding” meant so I just let it go. I couldn’t figure out what the point of the pictures was aside from having an entire photoshoot of pictures of you and your significant other. That is lovely (and I’ll say it – a little vain) but I wasn’t convinced it was worth the cost.
An engagement shoot is included in our wedding package (which by the way I didn’t find was an across the board offer while researching photographers). Because I wasn’t sure why we should take pictures and we weren’t sure when we could even take them, I negotiated adding the shoot onto our day of wedding package. When Aaron and I were home a few weeks, we met with our photographer and decided we should just take the pictures. And I’m so glad we did.
Below are my top three reasons to take engagement pictures
1. GET COMFORTABLE IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA
I am very comfortable in front of a camera. Hello, I’ve been slapping pictures of myself on this blog for a few years now! Aaron is not so much. It was important for him to get comfortable posing and taking direction. It was just as important for us to feel comfortable together. Some shots are natural – you’re walking, talking, laughing – others are not so much when you’re posed or laughing into each others eyes. You have to loosen up and you don’t want your wedding day to be the day you’re figuring out how to loosen up in front of a camera.
2 - GET COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
The same idea applies for getting comfortable with your photographer. Unless you’re a Kardashian, there is very little natural about the situation of having someone follow you around and take pictures of you. You want to get to know that person and feel comfortable being yourself in front of the camera. After we got comfortable with our photographer, we were able to tell her things like, this is my better side, or I don’t feel comfortable in this pose, etc.
3 - SEE WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE IN PRINT BEFORE THE BIG DAY
Our photographer shoots in digital and film which we love and is part of the reason we hired her. Getting the pictures back highlights the differences between the two and now that I know that I can ask her to use film for certain parts of the wedding and digital for others. Now that we have pictures back, I can see that I’m not comfortable with kissy pictures, or that wearing false lashes make my eyes pop. These are all things I couldn’t have known without seeing how our engagement pictures turned out. And they are all things I will keep in mind for our wedding day.
At the end of the day, you don’t want to be testing anything out on your wedding day. Engagement pictures are really good practice for the big day. If they come with your package, take advantage! They come with the added bonus of having a few pictures of you as couple that aren’t drunken, iPhone selfies. Or is that just us?