Something that I'm consistently reminded of as I walk through the wedding planning process with my brides is the important of engagement photos and getting in front of the camera before your wedding day. Some couples want to skip this part of the process because they don't like being in front of the camera, and some couples want to skip it because it feels like an unnecessary expense and their budget is already tight. I understand tight budgets, and I always work with my brides to make sure we stay within their budget, because tight finances is not the type of stress you should be walking through as you approach your wedding. However, cutting out engagement photos is one of the last things I recommend.
When Michael and I had our engagement photos taken, it was the first time I'd really been in front of the camera for several years. I was nervous and overly posed and stressing about every little detail in my head. Our photographer was great and did everything she could to help us relax, but it all just felt awkward. I felt awkward in front of the camera (what poses are flattering? does this even look natural?) and I felt awkward being affectionate with an onlooker. I still love our engagement pictures when I look back at them, our props were fun and our photographer got a lot of great shots, but I could also tell that I wasn't completely relaxed.
These photos, however, did make our wedding photos so much easier. I had learned what couple poses look awkward and I wasn't likely to print. I knew myself in front of a camera better, and I knew Michael's behavior in front of the camera better. I was able to have a lot more fun in these photos.
I can attest to this fact for my brides, too. I've seen couples do an engagement session, get the pictures back, and tell me how they had no idea that something they do normally would look so weird in a photograph. It's cute in every day life, but not everything photographs well. This is why engagement sessions are important.
Yes, it helps you photographer get to know you better before the wedding day. (Which also means better photos.)
Yes, it's a fun part of being engaged.
Yes, sometimes (when it's not wrapped up in your wedding photo package) it's an extra expense.
Yes, it can feel hard to justify spending that money especially if you have no interest in using the photos for save the dates or wedding decor.
BUT, I say it is a wise expense to try and fit in because it will absolutely make your wedding day photo experience so much better. You will be much more likely to be happy with your wedding photos if you two have already had some time in front of the camera than if you didn't get engagement photos.
As I look through the photos Michael and I just has taken by our friend Amy for our Christmas cards, it's easy to smile because I see our relationship captured. I see a lot of laughter, a little bit of sass, and a whole lot of love. I love even the ones that are "in between" photos because they contain faces that I know so well but that are impossible to capture on camera intentionally. Like the face Michael makes right after he's said something he thinks is hilarious and my laugh when I'm laughing at something he's said even though it was terrible and I shouldn't be laughing.
These pictures, the ones that capture the truest expressions which are my favorites, come from being comfortable. Comfortable in front of the camera, comfortable with each other, comfortable in what types of poses we do and do not like, comfortable to be just a little bit silly, and comfortable in our love for each other.
If you're on the fence about engagement photos, I say you should go for it. You're not only setting yourself up for success with your wedding photos, but (especially if you love photos as much as I do) you're also investing in a future together's worth of pictures you'll love. At least, that's been my experience.
What do you think?