Ask The Kit Weddings is our bi-monthly column on wedding etiquette. Wedding expert Alison McGill tackles the pressing — sometimes uncomfortable — questions that everyone from the nearly married to the guests in attendance have on their minds. Send your questions to [email protected].
My fiancé and I got engaged last fall, and so far I’m really enjoying the wedding planning, well, except for one thing. My parents are really pushing us to do engagement photos, but the very idea of being photographed stresses me and my fiancé, we’re just not photographers. A wedding day full of photographs is already very anxiety-inducing, and the thought of another formal photoshoot is more than we think we can handle. Money is also a factor as our budget is tight and we don’t think this is the best use of our funds. Do we really need engagement photos? —Alyssa
Let me start by answering this question directly, Alyssa: No, you definitely don’t know. need engagement photos, but you may regret not having them after your wedding. The period of your engagement is a special and very fleeting moment in your life. I always encourage couples to make sure they take the time to enjoy and celebrate the occasion. Engagement photos are a wonderful way to capture this moment.
If you allow me, I will use the royal family to illustrate the impact of engagement photos. When William and Kate, as well as Harry and Meghan, were engaged, their official engagement portraits depicted a specific magical moment in their love stories. Who can forget beloved Will and Kate cuddled up in matching camel cashmere sweaters snapped by Mario Testino? Or Harry and Meghan, clearly stunned, photographed by another great fashion photographer, Alexi Lubomirski.—cuddle on the steps of Frogmore House at Windsor Castle. (Meghan’s Ralph & Russo ball gown remains one of her best looks.)
It can be helpful to think of the engagement shoot as a way to prepare for the (literally) thousands of frames your photographer will take on your wedding day. It’s also a great way to get to know your photographer before the big chaotic day.
I called my friend Danielle Arnold, a wedding and lifestyle portrait photographer, to take over the engagement sessions. “I like to say it’s a dress rehearsal before the big day,” says Arnold. “It’s a great way to feel more comfortable in front of the camera and with your photographer. So many people find the whole process of being photographed, especially on their wedding day, extremely nerve-wracking, and I find that a pre-shoot helps put everyone at ease. As a photographer, it helps me understand my couple and work best with them on D-Day.
Read on for more of Arnold’s thoughts on why engagement photos are a good idea and how you can ensure they don’t cost more than your existing wedding photography budget.
What do you love about engagement photo shoots?
“I love telling stories through my photos: capturing that moment in a couple’s life when they are so happy and madly in love. I also love getting to know a couple on this level and working with them to overcome any feelings of awkwardness they may feel in front of the camera. It’s about relaxing and being present together in that moment.
How does pre-shooting with a couple create better wedding day photos?
“In my books, it’s about building that all-important relationship and trust with each other. You’re going to spend between 8 and 10 hours of your wedding day with your photographer, who will capture some pretty intimate moments. That’s important that you vibrate with them and enjoy spending time together!
How much do you charge for an engagement photo shoot?
“This is something I offer free of charge to all couples who book their wedding with me. This is common practice with many wedding photographers. If your photographer offers engagement photos at an all-inclusive price, why not wouldn’t you do a shoot?
What kind of atmosphere is currently in fashion in engagement photo shoots?
“More and more couples are opting for more candid and natural photos in places that are close to their hearts: a park they visit regularly, a local place where they go for a drink, where they had their first date. you or in a beautiful space at home. I’m often asked for advice on what to wear to an engagement photo shoot and my best advice is to pick something special, but still make you feel like you. When you’re uncomfortable, it shows in the pictures.