Top 5 Questions to Ensure an Engagement Session You'll Love
When you think about photography on your wedding day, a lot of big decisions and ideas are already taken care of. The ceremony time has been decided, the venue deposit is paid and your decision on attire usually centers around a beautiful white dress. Along with these decisions to choreograph your very best wedding come the time constraints and limitations that naturally occur. It's one of the reasons why this once-in-a-lifetime event is so impactful. But, there's an opportunity within the journey of getting married that transcends the determining factors of the wedding day. The engagement session is a chance for you to make the absolute most of getting beautiful images of you and your fiance in a completely unlimited setting. Here are five questions to ask yourself to make the most out of your engagement session.
1. “What location will be best?”
With an engagement session, the most frequent and most stress-inducing question is based on location. It holds a lot of weight and can be one of the biggest unknowns in the whole wedding planning process. The answer is actually, really personal. The best locations that I’ve photographed are those that both the bride and groom are strongly connected to - locations that tell the story of who they are. Of course, there is always the high-level decision of whether to photograph ‘downtown’ or a ‘more natural’ setting, but there is so much more to this. A better question to ask is “What will best express who we are and what means the most to us?”
It’s absolutely beautiful to capture engagement photos in the middle of a meadow with the setting sun, (don’t get me wrong, I love this!) but think of the impact on you and your soon-to-be spouse if that meadow was the setting of your first date when you both walked around nervously holding hands for only seconds at a time. A beautiful setting will certainly create beautiful images, but an meaningful location of a first date, favorite spot or amazing moment will create the most impactful images.
2. “When should we have our engagement session?”
The question of timing is always a great question when it comes to planning. There are a couple things that can drive this decision. The first one is the length of your engagement. If you're on the expedited ‘getting married in 4 months’ path, timing is a bit more limited compared to an engagement that lasts 2 years. This plays a key role because a specific season can make itself available. I’ve been fortunate to photograph engagement session in all seasons and each one has its unique beauty. A couple holding each other close as the snow falls on their eyelashes can resonate as much as a couple running through the fields during a summer sunset. Both are incredible because they can convey the intimacy and joy of your relationship. Also, think about what season your wedding is in and if you want something similar, or perhaps diversity within the images.
3. “What do I need for an engagement session?”
Preparation is the key to success. My mom used to tell me this. I used to shrug it off and think the slogan “I’ll just wing it” had more appeal. I was wrong. It’s amazing to see how just a few insights can change an engagement session for the better. Don’t get me wrong, impromptu, reaction-based photography is so naturally beautiful, but prepping a bit beforehand can elevate the whole experience.
Here are some simple tips to help you prepare:
- Prepare for the weather and terrain. Bring a jacket if it’s a bit chilly or if it’s a longer session. Spring is wonderful, but it can change from hour to hour in the heartland of the Midwest. Also, consider the terrain of your session location. Bring a pair of boots, even if you don’t plan on being photographed in them. They can easily get you across a stream, up a mountain or through a messy field.
- Consider having your hair and makeup professionally done. In addition to what outfits you decide on, consider professional hair styling and makeup. Not only will the photos expound on the pampering, but it gives you an opportunity to do a trial run for your wedding. There are plenty of other ways to prep, but just because it’s more informal than your wedding doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for a successful session.
4. “What do I do with my photos after the engagement session?”
A big question that goes under the radar in today’s digital-centric world is what to do with your engagement session images. A common approach is to post a few to Facebook and make one your profile picture. However, the extent of your time, effort and energy can go much further. I know how easy it is to have all these digital files just sit on your computer, but there is so much more potential for them!
Consider how you can incorporate these images into the details of your wedding. For example, you can place them on your wedding website, save-the-dates, invitations or programs. When it comes to the ceremony, they could be integrated into a slideshow or part of a guest gift. Maybe even printing and framing them as part of a welcome table or centerpiece.
Lastly, an engagement album can be a wonderful gift for your parents, the holidays, or even as a keepsake for yourselves to remember the time before marriage. I remember when my wife and I hung large 20x30 framed prints of our engagement session in our new house to see and get excited about our wedding around the corner. It was great because we could start to show our future family in a tangible, real way. Now we’ve added wedding photos and it couldn’t feel more like home.
5. “What do I do at the engagement session?”
For anyone who's been in front of a camera or part of a photo shoot, a common question is, 'What do I do?' This can cause a lot of anxiety and hesitation throughout the entire session. Luckily, with the right photographer, they should be able to walk you through everything you have questions about.
I’ve always considered it the photographer’s responsibility to capture the most out of a couple. This doesn’t mean the photographer pushes an emotion onto the couple, but naturally draws it out. Everyone has a reason why they're marrying their fiance, and it’s a beautiful thing when that reason and emotion is unwrapped!
Even in situations where you don’t know how to pose or don’t know what to do with your hands, you can relax because it’s one of the reasons you hired a professional photographer. They're able to set the stage for the moments that are candid and natural. So, to answer the question, just have fun! It's supposed to be an enjoyable time with your soon-to-be spouse and an informal session where you're getting to know your photographer. If you do that, your images will show it beautifully.
I hope this helps you and your new fiance hit the ground running for your upcoming engagement session! If you're on the fence about doing an engagement session or if you just got done reading this and you're thinking "it's just not worth it", consider the engagement session as a way for your photographer to understand you and your fiance more. Those cute moments that you share with your best friend that only you two know, the kind of moments that makes you you; they create the memorable images. The engagement session could be your 'trial run' with your photographer to understand what you want, down to every detail. Imagine sitting down with your husband after your wedding and flipping through your wedding album and seeing the best of you on your most important day, all because it started with the engagement session.
If you liked what you've read above, reach out to me and we can talk. I'd be more than happy to fill you in on several other tips and tricks that come within the wedding planning world! Stay tuned for some more goodies! Thanks!