Your engagement photos should be a proud series of memories from one of the most exciting times of your life. You are, after all, celebrating the decision to unit forever as best friends and a husband-and-wife team. For many couples, the engagement session is the first time they've ever gotten formal images taken of them -- and for many, their wedding may be the last time they have professional photos of just the two of them.
While wedding day photographs can be beautiful, they are more formal and during a much more stressful and long occasion! I love engagement photographs because they truly are an opportunity to capture the two of you -- and just the two of you -- as you are every day. I consider my engagement sessions like a "peek" into a regular Tuesday night or Saturday morning together and a glimpse into your love story.
Here are some suggestions on keeping your engagement session smooth, fun and enjoyable!
1. Consider a lifestyle engagement session!
Lifestyle essentially means that it's a more "real", authentic capturing of the two of you, as opposed to a lot of emphasis on poses, props and seriousness. In engagement sessions with Wendy Zook Photography, we do incorporate some more posed shots, but I much prefer capturing my couples doing day-to-day things with motion and feeling -- walking together down a main street, laughing or playing a game and being silly with each other.
A lifestyle session can be done anywhere, too! In your home or a favorite café or downtown area. The sky is the limit!
Coming from a more lifestyle approach allows the two of you to feel more comfortable and at ease, because you truly are just being the two of you and nothing more!
2. Add a theme to your engagement session.
Do you love vintage details? Are you an avid reader? Do you love black-and-white? Incorporate what styles and themes you adore into your engagement session and you'll have something that is both different from everyone else and more meaningful to the two of you.
Bookworms would be so cute and cozy in a bookstore or library. A vintage theme can include 40s or 50s hair and makeup details, dress and accessories to give everyone a trip down memory lane.
Themes can be a time period, a color or centered around something you love.
3. Know what to wear to your engagement session.
One of the most frequently-asked questions I receive is "What should we wear at our engagement session?" I can answer it a thousand ways, but here are some of my tips:
- Avoid being too matchy-matchy. What I mean by that is find one or two colors you like and want to incorporate into your outfits but don't dress like a twin to your husband-to-be. If he's wearing dark blue pants and a gray shirt, maybe you can incorporate gray and blue with accessories like a scarf or necklace or even a nice cardigan or your new shoes.
- You don't have to buy all new outfits! You can, for sure, but you don't have to. If there's an item in your closet you've been so excited to wear when the time is right, make this the time and plan your outfit around that shirt or dress.
- Be comfortable! Keep in mind any walking we might be doing and the temperatures outside. Make sure you try new shoes on and avoid any itchy or annoying materials.
- Don't feel like you have to dress up. If you're typically wearing jeans and a T-shirt, a ballgown may be too much and not seem "you." It's OK and encouraged to dress up a little bit, but make sure your outfit choices match you, your surroundings and your theme!
4. Consider the time of year and your scenery.
A lot of couples stress about when to have their engagement session. And then, where!? Well, you want to allow yourself at least six weeks between your engagement session and when you mail out your save-the-dates if you're planning on using these images for those announcements. That will give time for editing, choosing, ordering and mailing, with room to spare!
I always recommend for Wendy Zook Photography couples that they consider their engagement session and wedding day images appearing like a smooth transition -- so, that means that similar themes, backgrounds, styles, etc, are used. If you're having a Fall wedding with beautiful oranges and yellows and greens, a stark white winter backdrop for engagement photos may seem "off."
Similarly, if your wedding is all about modern details and textures, then an all-green or nature-based engagement session may seem pretty contradictory.
5. Make your engagement session about BOTH of you.
Too often, I hear or see couples where one person has been dreaming of and planning and pinning ideas for their wedding and engagement photos since they were about three years old. Their significant other is usually a very good sport and goes along with the colors and outfits and props and poses, but it's not fair and it's no longer about the two of you.
I always ask my clients about each of their hobbies and interests, even their favorite types of music, their color preferences sports, everything that makes them tick. It's important that I capture not just one love story but two very unique and individual people, too.
I suggest at least adding in a few photos of your hubby-to-be's favorite sports jersey or let him wear his favorite baseball cap for a couple of photos. He'll feel more comfortable and the final gallery will tell a story about the two of you.
Don't forget to ask your fiancé what he wants to do! He may not have any preference, but he may have a lot of great ideas, too!
6. Be you.
This is an important one. The most important thing to remember.
You have to be true to you, the two of you. Don't aim for someone else's vision or you'll be terribly disappointed in your experience. And don't feel like you have to do what a big sister or best friend did last year or five years ago. Photography styles and edits change all the time. Themes change weekly!
When your friends and family see your sneak peeks on Facebook a couple of days after our session, you want them to think, "WOW, that is SO you" or "I've never seen that before and I just love it!" instead of having to scroll back up and try to figure out who you were trying to imitate.
I feel most excited about an engagement session months later, when I step into my clients' wedding day and feel an easy, smooth transition. It all makes sense, I think to myself. It's all about YOU.
For more engagement session ideas, visit my Pinterest board here! I have lots of ideas on themes, outfits, poses and locations.