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Wedding planning results in about a jillion different things that you suddenly have to have an opinion on. Should we do favors? What kind of favors? Do we want to do buffet or seated dining, and how much is that again? Should we maybe just fly to Vegas and elope instead? And, of course, do we need to do an engagement session?

You might be thinking “well of course you’re in favor of people doing engagement sessions, you’re a photographer.” Fair enough. But I’m also a firm believer in people doing what’s right for them, and planning a wedding that makes them happy. Doing engagement photos isn’t something that’s important to everyone, but I’m a pretty big fan of them. Here are some things to consider, to help you decide if it’s something you want to do.

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Save the Date
There are some practical considerations, like “do we need a photo for save the dates?” If you’re sending those out, or want to use a nice portrait for your guestbook, or basically have anywhere that you’d like to incorporate great photos of the two of you, then you might want to consider an engagement session. Generally people don’t have a lot of quality photos of themselves just laying about, and phone selfies don’t always capture the look you’re going for.

Document it
Even if you aren’t planning any particular use for your portraits, you may just want to have some beautiful photos of the two of you. Much like your wedding photos, you have an opportunity to capture a specific point in your life that you can show your grandkids later (and use all over Facebook in the meantime). And while you’ll have those portraits on your wedding day, it might be nice to also have some in your regular clothes.

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Practice, practice, practice
Speaking of your wedding day, we’ll have a LOT more time to take portraits at an engagement session than we will the day you get married. While I work with you on your timeline to make sure you get the sort of photos you want, it’s obviously not the only thing you have going on that day. But a portrait session? That’s all we’re doing. So we can do a styled shoot, or go to more than one location, or spend an afternoon taking pictures at an amusement park. It’s a lot more relaxed. In fact, if you’re camera shy, it’s an even bigger benefit to you to do the engagement session. One reason people give for opting out of them is that they don’t enjoy getting pictures taken, and are already actively dreading that part of the wedding day. Getting some practice in will likely make you feel a lot better about it. You’re more comfortable around me, and by the end of the day, you’re more comfortable in front of a camera. While taking portraits will never be some people’s idea of fun, I promise it’ll at least be painless.

Getting to know you
More time also means that I get to know the two of you better, and the first time I’m sticking a giant camera in your face isn’t on your wedding day. Getting to hang out with each other like that, you start to feel less like clients and more like friends. I have a much better feel for who you are as a couple, and what sort of photos really bring out your personalities, because we got to hang out for an afternoon. Plus now that you’ve had some practice with posing and the whole idea of getting your photo taken, getting wedding day portraits will be a total breeze. Everything tends to go a little more quickly, and you tend to be less nervous, because you’ve totally done this whole portrait thing before. It’s sort of a trial run for the big day, with the added benefit that you get some awesome photos of yourselves.

Ultimately, you’re not just taking photos for right now. You’re taking photos for the future. Years from now, you’ll be able to look back on the two of you before you were married, before you bought the house, or had the kids, or moved to the west coast. This is the super mushy reason that I love to take photos, you get to freeze a fleeting part of your life and save it. To show those memories to someone else down the line. “This is me and your grandpa before we got married.” That’s why I love engagement photos.

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