Okay, so now you’re engaged and you’ve officially taken the ring selfie (#ISaidYES!). There are a million different things going through your mind, and every wedding planning site you look at is telling you that you should have started your wedding planning a year ago! Instead of stressing, let’s take a moment and think about something fun: your engagement photos.
The most important things to remember are to select a photographer (one of your most important choices) that fits your personality and style, find a location that you love, and have fun capturing this awesome time in your lives. Don’t make it something stressful, and the results will be amazing.
In this article, I’ll give you an easy-to-follow guide to make sure that your engagement photos are the perfect start to your wedding journey, and prepare you for any bumps you might have along the way.
Do I Have to Get Engagement Photos?
The simple answer to whether you have to do engagement pictures is “no,” because this is your party and you can do what you want to. HOWEVER, I would strongly recommend investing in this tradition if you’re willing and able. There are many benefits to having an engagement session, which is why most couples do opt to get in front of the camera.
The other thing you should remember is that couples today are more focused on doing what makes them happy than ever before, meaning that they don’t have to be your parents’ wedding pics.
Reasons to Get Engagement Photos
Here are some of the top reasons that couples get engagement photos taken, and why you should consider it, too.
- Get to know your photographer. Listen, I’ve said it once already and I’ll probably say it again: your wedding photographer is one of your most important vendors on your big day. It’s important to get to know them ahead of time so that you’re on the same page for your style and preferences, and so they’ll be able to better capture who you are as a couple.
- Wedding Day Dress Rehearsal. Your engagement photos are a great opportunity to do a trial run on your hair and makeup and see how it comes out on film. You might realize that the look isn’t what you want on the big day, or that updo may not hold up as well as you’d hoped. Either way, this is your chance to see how you both look on camera ahead of time.
- Camera Practice. Unless you’re a model or some other professional who gets photographed often, you’re probably a little awkward in front of the camera. That’s totally normal, so don’t worry. My husband and I had a hard time not laughing when we were being directed into poses on our wedding day. Engagement pics are a good time to practice taking direction, posing, and figuring out who looks better on which side.
- Do it for the Insta. Social media is a big part of everyday life, so many couples want to have a nice, professional photo taken before they’re married. The trend is so commonplace today that it almost feels like a requirement, especially with the rise of wedding planning websites like The Knot.
- Do it for the paper goods. As you continue your wedding planning journey, you’ll learn all about save-the-dates, invitations, announcement cards, thank you cards, and the list goes on. Your engagement photos are great to use on all of these wedding paper items or for display on the big day. It will make your friends and family say “awww” right from the start.
What Exactly ARE Engagement Photos, Anyway?
It can be confusing to keep up with all the moving parts (and all the lingo) of getting engaged and wedding planning, especially early-on. Contrary to the name, engagement photos don’t typically capture the moment of your engagement. They’re just professional pictures taken during your engagement period, usually not long after you make it official (you know, after you put a ring on it).
Some couples may see this photo op as an unnecessary expense to add to the ever-growing list of expenses when planning a wedding. I would argue that it’s actually the opposite – it’s an investment in capturing this joyous time in your lives that you will cherish in the future.
Like so many other industries, Millennials have really made wedding planning their own, changing once thought timeless traditions upside down for the benefit of doing what makes the couple happy (kudos, by the way!).
Just like the term “ring selfie,” which didn’t exist 10 years ago, Millennials have the luxury of documenting all the important moments in life to reflect on later and to share with loved ones. Engagement photos are another outlet for this trend.
Engagement photos used to be super formal and lacked the personality of today’s couples. Modern engagement shoots include pets, outfit changes, kids, and go on-location for various themes that range from utterly romantic to super funny and cute.
This should come as no surprise from the generation that is getting married later in life, rejecting the status quo, and working hard to close the gender pay gap.
Millennials are also embracing prenuptial agreements unlike any previous generation. We’re facing the realities of having grown up with divorced parents and planning marriage from a perspective that’s much more focused on fairness, equality, and protecting both parties – how adult of us!
How Much Do Engagement Photos Cost?
The price of an engagement photo shoot varies depending on the location, how long the shoot is, the photographer’s pricing, what’s included in the package, and other factors that can increase or decrease the total price.
Just to give you an idea of price ranges, here are the average costs of engagement photography in New York City, based on duration of the shoot (according to Snappr):
- 1-hour shoot – $635
- 2-hour shoot – $1,016
- 3-hour shoot – $1,397
Choosing a Photographer for Wedding and Engagement Photos
Choosing your wedding photographer will be one of the biggest and most important decisions you’ll make during your planning process. Your photographer’s style and their personality are the most important factors to consider, so it’s important to look at their portfolio or gallery and meet in person to make sure you mesh well. That’s where the engagement session comes in!
Everything can seem great and you may absolutely LOVE the photos on the photographer’s website, but that doesn’t always mean that it will be the best fit. Different people need different levels of direction from the person behind the lens, and some couples are way more uncomfortable and camera-shy.
Styles like lighting, the types of poses and shots you’ll do, and the overall feel of the pictures will depend on the photographer’s skill and style. Your engagement session is when you’ll be able to make sure that what you’re envisioning for your wedding album is what the pro will deliver.
Wedding Photographer Contracts
When you enter into a service agreement with your photographer, just like your other wedding vendors, you’ll sign a contract that lays out the services that they’ll provide and what they expect from you. There will also be provisions about what happens in the event of something like your photographer is sick on the day-of, or if she gets into a car accident on the way to the venue.
These scenarios are unlikely, but it’s important that they’re laid out and planned for ahead of time. The last thing that you want to do is be stressing out about how to handle a last-minute change of plans.
The important thing to remember is that contracts protect both parties. They take into consideration the questions and issues that may arise later and lay out a plan for handling them that’s mutually agreed upon and fair to both parties.
This concept isn’t too different from any other contract or even a prenuptial agreement. In the event that the relationship doesn’t work out like it should, the contract details how monetary losses should be handled, how the services that were promised will be delivered, and what the responsibilities are for each side.
Choosing a Location for Engagement Photos
Some couples choose a photo spot that holds special meaning for them, like the place where he proposed or the park near where you had your first date. Others opt for somewhere with a beautiful backdrop, or for a special theme or look like beachfront or on a baseball field.
To look at some amazing locations for your engagement photos, I’ll be using the city that never sleeps as a guide! Even if you don’t live in the city, these locations can give you some ideas for the types of spots that make for great pics. If you’re able to take your show on the road, engagement photos in NYC can make for some incredible images with iconic settings.
Best Engagement Photo Spots in NYC
- Central Park
- The Loeb Boathouse (Central Park)
- The Arches (Central Park)
- The Empire State Building
- Brooklyn Bridge
- Botanical Garden
- Riverside Park
- Shakespeare Garden
- Top of the Rock
What Should I Wear in My Engagement Photos?
Remember, you’ll have countless dazzling pics of you and your beau on your wedding day looking damper. For the engagement photos, you’ll want to look more like your normal selves.
Here are some tips for what you both should wear:
- Stick with soft, neutral colors. They look flattering in photos and the look is timeless, so your photos won’t be dated with the trend of the current year.
- Don’t wear a new outfit. You want to know how the look will hold up for an hour or more of different poses and embraces. You should wear your outfit out to dinner or while you’re out running errands for the day to make sure it doesn’t roll up or wrinkle in some unexpected place.
- Dress for the season. You don’t want to be sweating through your top during your outdoor shoot or fight to keep your teeth from chattering because you wore a cute minidress in January.
- Coordinate but don’t match. You want to complement one another, not look like twins.
- Comfort first. You’re going to be doing a lot of poses that feel unnatural and it might be awkward the first time in front of the camera. Wearing stiff, uncomfortable clothes won’t help.
Your engagement photos are your first big milestone in your journey to the altar, and possibly your first experience with an official wedding vendor. It’s an exciting time, but it can be stressful. Remember, planning is key!
Over the next several months, you and your spouse-to-be will talk about your dream wedding and beyond. It’s the perfect time to also bring up the tough conversations about finances, debt, children, home-buying, and all the other things that come with building a life together.
Couples that have the hard talks have a better chance of a lasting marriage than those who sweep them under the rug. HelloPrenup’s platform can help you navigate those conversations and make sure that you’re moving in the same direction, right from the start.
- CNBC: Gender pay gap
- Wall Street Journal: Millennials embrace prenups – but through a very different lens than in the past
- Brides: How to find the perfect wedding photographer