Tips to Prepare for your Engagement Session
You found the perfect partner! You just got the perfect ring. But, does posing for engagement photographs give you butterflies? It’s normal, and here are a few tips to help you prepare for the perfect photographs.
Talk to your partner about your goals for engagement pictures. Do you want to celebrate and remember this exciting time in your life? Are you planning to send out personalized save the date cards? Do you want to announce your engagement in the newspaper? Do you have lots of relatives who haven’t met your partner in person yet and would enjoy seeing photographs of the two of you together before your big day? Getting involved with the process will help your fiancé enjoy and look forward to the photography session. It may not be as delicious as cake tasting, but it doesn’t have to be a chore.
Find a photographer whose style you enjoy. Check out the photographs on their website. Are they classic and traditional or spontaneous and fun? What types of photographs resonate with you? Can you see yourself in any of the photographs you’ve viewed on their website? Are you excited to work with the photographer?
Talk with the photographer about the location for your session. Many engagement sessions take place on-location and outside the studio. Ask the photographer where they are willing to travel and if there are any fees for on-location sessions. Think about places that will be meaningful for you. Where did you go on your first date? Where did your fiancé propose? Where do you hang out in your free time? Do you share any hobbies together? Ask the photographer for recommendations of places they have used for engagement sessions in the past.
Plan the style of clothing you will wear for the session. First, decide whether you want to dress formally or casually. How do your friends normally see you? You want to look like yourself in the photographs; so clean, casual clothes are not off-limits. If you usually wear heels, make sure you pick a location that you can easily traverse with heels, or bring along a change of shoes. Ask your photographer if changes of clothing are allowed, and talk about how long the session will last.
Think about color. Have you picked a color palette for your wedding yet? Some couples follow this pattern in their engagement session, too! Love purple orchids and yellow sunflowers? Great – these colors are complimentary and photograph well together! Other complimentary color combinations include: blue and orange, and red and green (not just for Christmas weddings). You can also wear the same hue, but in different shades. Neutral colors like white, black, gray or even brown look great with a splash of color.
To match or not to match? That’s the question. Some couples choose to wear similar clothing like white/black shirts and jeans for a classic portrait look. Simple is better. Avoid clothing with logos, horizontal stripes or graphic patterns.
Unless you’re photographing on an unbearably hot day, avoid short sleeve shirts. Long sleeves are more flattering, and darker colors are also slimming. Guys should wear dark socks with dress shoes – white will be distracting. Long pants are generally more flattering than shorts. Make sure you iron out any wrinkles – they can be noticeable in your photographs. Don’t rule out engagement sessions in cold weather as well. You can always take off bulky coats, scarves or mittens for a few shots, then put them back on to warm up.
Your ring will take center stage in a number of the pictures. Help it shine by cleaning it before the session. Use jewelry cleaner or warm water with dish detergent and an old toothbrush.
During the session, your photographer will help you pose, or ask you to interact with each other. If you’re nervous, ask the photographer for direction about where to look and how to hold your hands. Strike up a conversation with your fiancé and try to relax and forget the photographer is there. If you feel unnatural in any pose, speak up. You don’t want to feel or look awkward in your pictures.
For tips on posing, check out the “Posing for the Camera” page. Tip your chin up slightly to avoid the double chin look. If you wear glasses, tilt them down a little to avoid glare – follow the photographer’s direction so it looks natural. Turn your body about 45 degrees away from the camera; you can always look back at the photographer. Tip the shoulder closest to the photographer down slightly and roll both shoulders back so you stand with good posture. Your weight will be on one leg, so bend the knee a little on the other leg – you’ll look like a fashion model! Don’t be afraid to give the camera some attitude with a hand on your hip or send a flirty look to your person!
Not all photographs require a smile. Try out a few “serious” looks in the pictures as well as some natural smiles. If you’re nervous, practice ahead of time in a mirror. For natural smiles, whisper a joke or funny memory in your fiancé’s ear while you are taking pictures. Reactions may be priceless. If you know you might be nervous, ask your photographer about bringing along props. Cute signs, items that reference your wedding theme or something that represents you can be worked creatively into your shots, and it gives you something else to focus on during the pictures. Etsy.com has some great ideas for wedding props.
Don’t forget to get close! You’re getting married! Hold hands, kiss, dance, snuggle, or look into each other’s eyes! Enjoy the session; it’s a celebration of your love!
Check out other couples’ engagement photographs before your session. Did you fall in love with a certain pose, idea, or look of a photograph? Print out a copy and bring it with you to your session, or speak with your photographer ahead of time. Giving them ideas about your style and tastes will help the photographer create beautiful art for you. Do you love black and white photographs, vintage sepia images, light and airy, dark and moody, Matte finish, or edgy, textured artwork? Tell the photographer about your preferences, but don’t be afraid to try new things. You may be surprised at what strikes your fancy!
Not sure you want to indulge in engagement photographs? Here are a few creative uses for those images:
Ask your photographer or stationer to incorporate a few images from your session into save the date cards. Save the date cards are great reminders, especially for out of town guests, about your upcoming nuptials. Plan to send them out 6-9 months before your wedding date (longer for guests who will be traveling internationally, or if you are planning a wedding on a holiday weekend).
Create a custom guestbook to use at your wedding. Instead of a book with just lines for signatures, use the engagement photographs in a hard cover album or book and let your guests enjoy your pictures while they write messages to you.
Post photographs on your wedding website to personalize it. “Announce” your engagement virtually by posting on your facebook page, your blog or by sending out e-vites to an engagement celebration. Always, check with your photographer about the rights to the digital images before you post or print.
Have your photographer make prints to use in your custom centerpieces or as escort cards/favors.
Pose with a sign that says “thank you” and create cards thanking your friends and family for shower and wedding gifts. Photographs can also be used to make custom postage stamps for your invitations, save the dates or thank you cards. Why send out bell, ring or flower stamps when you can be featured on your own collectable stamp? Now there’s a reason to keep the envelope as well as the invitation!
Surprise your parents with an album or framed photograph of you and your fiancé at the holidays or as a thank you for their help with the planning of your wedding.
An engagement session is a great time to grow accustomed to posing together before you wedding, and to test out the style of your wedding photographer. You’ll spend a lot of time with the photographer on your big day. Do you like his or her personality? Do they make you feel at ease? Seeing yourself in their photographs will help you trust that you made the right choice in photographers.
Congratulations on your engagement! Now get out and celebrate!