Engagement Photo Shoot- the 5 W’s

SMILE! You’re engaged, and that’s cause for celebration and merriment and the kind of happily-ever-after excitement that makes you want to jump for joy, sing from the highest mountaintop and grin from ear to ear…which is great, because a very common part of getting engaged today is going for an engagement photo shoot, and with the twinkle in both of your eyes and the smiles you’re both sporting non-stop, you’re going to be lovestruck stars! Okay, so here’s the engagement shoot run-down…

WHO? 
Of course, this session will focus on the two of you, but you also need to consider WHO the photographer will be. Maybe you’ve already decided on your wedding photographer and the wedding package includes an engagement session- that makes things easy! Maybe you haven’t decided yet, but you like that idea- ask around, get some recommendations, and find some options. The photographer plays a very important role in capturing your big day, and you may want to seize the opportunity to start bonding with him/her (and vice versa) at the engagement session.  Not necessarily set on using the same photographer for both sessions? Find a camera-loving friend, family member, or local photographer you like and set up a time to meet before booking your session.
   If you have children, include them in your photos. Remember that this shoot should focus on the two of you, so get some couple shots in there, but if your kids are your life, get them involved, too!
   Another WHO consideration is any special furry/slimy/scaly/feathered friends you may have! Do you have a special pet who is a special part of your relationship and who will really ham it up for the photos? Make arrangements so that you can get a few pictures together! If you need someone to keep your pet entertained for the rest of the shoot, you may want to bring a pet helper along as well (or if you’re close to home, you can bring your pet back before you journey on)!

WHAT (will we use them for)? 
Alright, so you’re getting married and you want to have engagement photos done. You’ve decided who you’re marrying, who your photographer will be, and who to bring along, and now you’re trying to figure out exactly WHAT this is all about. When couples get their engagement photos back, they may use them for a variety of purposes throughout their engagement and beyond. This is, for many couples, the first time they’ve had a professional photo shoot together. This photographer is going to make you two look amazing- I mean, even better than you already look, if that’s possible! Once you see the results, you’re going to be wowed, and then you’re going to try and figure out what you should do with these amazing shots of you, without seeming too self-centered and overwhelming about it. Oh by the way, you will look good, you are getting married (which is an incredibly special thing), and you have every right to share these pictures and love them 🙂  So WHAT can you do with them? Here are a few ideas:
Print them and put a few up around your place and on your desk at work. Prints aren’t included in your session package? Mpix.com is a great site for printing quality photos at a good price! Remember, these are professional photos, taken with a professional-grade camera. Make sure you do them some justice in printing or they’ll lose something, especially with the hour-printing technology at places like Walmart and CVS. 
Give a few favorites to your parents, siblings, grandparents, the friend(s) who introduced you, whoever wants them. Remember that these people love you, love seeing you two so happy, and probably love these photos as much as you do!
– Use them for your Save the Dates, a calendar sticker to help you and your guests literally Save the Date, and even your invitations!
– Feature a favorite shot in your engagement/wedding announcement for the local paper where you live and where you grew up.
– Make them available to your bridal party. They may want to tie a few favorites into your bridal shower, bachelorette party and gifts in some way. 
– Use them for the Sign-in Board/BookCard Box, Centerpiece design and other Decor at your wedding. 
– Share them online! If you have a wedding website, feature a few favorites on there! If you have a few that you’re thinking of using for your Save the Dates or invites, hang onto those, but share the others with loved ones online. Share them on a blog, on facebook, in an email to best friends and family members, or on a photo sharing site such as Picasa.  Put them up on Pinterest- you may (p)inspire other brides-and-grooms-to-be! 
Make a book on MyPublisher, Snapfish or another photo project site.
– Print one and feature it on a Wedding Countdown in your place. Then get excited- the big day is coming!

 I LOVE this locking Card box- found for $79 on Amazon.

WHAT (should we wear)?
Another big question in planning your photo shoot is WHAT you should wear. There are lots of posts online and ideas all over Pinterest, but the most important thing is to wear something that makes you comfortable- something that is you- and to keep in mind that you’re never fully dressed without a smile! If you’re not a big fan of having your picture taken, it sounds silly, but you should sit down and practice your smile with your fiance/fiancee, in front of a mirror, or for your phone/camera. If you’re having a photographer at the wedding itself, you need to be prepared for LOTS of pictures in the not-so-distant future, so you might as well overcome it now! A few key points and suggestions are:
– If you have a place to change during your session, 2-3 outfits are recommended, so that you can get some casual shots and some more dressy ones. This way, you can use your photos for a variety of purposes with ease.  This post is great for planning your outfits, and has some great tips for preparation.
Avoid really busy prints, especially at more colorful times of the year.
– Try to wear different colors from each other, and to bring in a pop of color on your shirt or shoes.
Wear what you would normally wear, in the way that you would normally wear it. You want to feel comfortable, so that you look comfortable. If you want to go splurge on a new outfit, go for it, but try to wear it at least once before the day of the session to make sure you like how it feels and looks!
– Ladies- arms are often more flattered in sleeves, but feel free to wear whatever you love and feel good in.
Wear something you can move in (photographers have great envisioning skills and sometimes request that we do crazy- but awesome- things for pictures)!
Wear your favorite sports jerseys if you have a team (or opposing teams) that are a big part of your lives.
– In the Armed Forces? Put on your uniform!
– Wear a hat, a scarf, a pair of gloves, a nice coat, earmuffs, boots, sunglasses, etc. based on the season for a few (but maybe not ALL) shots.
Try everything on and make sure it’s clean, wrinkle-free, feels good and is in good shape.
Ask a loved one for his or her opinion if you want/need some assistance.

WHAT (should we bring)?
Bring some props to show who you are and what you love!
– Do you play the guitar? Bring a guitar, a blanket & a picnic basket, then create that scene.
– Do what makes you happy! Bring an instrument if you play one! Bring a bike or rent a tandem bicycle (aka a Bicycle Built for 2!) if you love to ride.
Car aficionados? Bring along your car, or ask someone you know if you can use their car for your session. Bring a motorcycle and helmets if that’s your jam.
– Do you two play golf? Bring some clubs, a golf bag, some tees and balls, a marker to write your wedding date on the balls, then tee them up for a shot.
Consider how you met! Were you in college together? Bring pom poms or something to represent that. Did you work together at the post office? Make little signs that say ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ and ‘I’m Yours’ and hold them up for a few shots! Be creative and have fun!
Consider where- and who- you are now! Represent your professions, your hobbies, your favorite foods/drinks, and yourselves- together and individually in some way, and have fun!
– The Ring- Want to show off your bling? Find a special way to photograph your engagement ring!

WHERE?
This is easy, and so much fun, to figure out! Consider WHERE you love to be together. Did you meet somewhere in particular, have your first date somewhere that you love, get engaged at a special (and fairly local) place? Does your family vacation in a certain spot? Do you have a special memory that jumps out at you when you think of the two of you together? If so, that’s where you should go for your engagement photo session!  If not (or if it’s not easy to get back to your special place), that’s okay. Find somewhere local and convenient, beautiful and meaningful to you, and go there! This photo session is about you, so wherever you go will work! Go to a park, to a lake, to the ocean, the beach, the boardwalk, the mountains, the city, a winery, a brewery, a berry patch, a carnival/fair, a sporting arena/field/park, anywhere that speaks to you.
   If you’re feeling like you’re up for  a little adventure on your shoot, you can bring an activity into the mix! Play paintball (or for a little less OUCH, throw colored powder on each other), go for a jog, go to a sporting event, jump off a bridge (just don’t get hurt!), do whatever makes you happy!
   Note: If your special place is not close by but you do want to go there for your photos, consider bringing your photographer on a trip, asking if he/she would meet you there (you may have to pay their travel expenses), or find a photographer who is local to that area who will meet you there.     Another Note: Try and stick to one general area for your shoot. This will make things easier on you, your photographer, and your feet!

WHEN?

Most photographers will set up a date with you, and they will also most likely set up a rain date. If your photo location has a nice covered area of it’s indoors, and you would still like to go rain or shine, verbalize that beforehand! Maybe you want a picture under an umbrella in the rain. Maybe you want pictures in the snow, and the roads are safe between you (and the photographer) and your location. Pictures in the snow can be absolutely GORGEOUS, so know that weather does not have to be a show stopper. Just be sure to check the weather and dress for it, whatever it is!
   Consider the time of day, season and accompanying scenery that you’re envisioning for your photos. Are you morning people? Get up with the sun and take some early-in-the-day shots. Afternoon/Night people? Luckily for you, shoots are often scheduled starting in the afternoon, through the “Magic Hour” (right around sunset) and into the night to get the best angles and lighting. Are you getting married in the Fall? You may want to take engagement pictures in the Fall. It may seem out of place to use a picture from a winter photo shoot on a card box or sign-in board at a wedding in the middle of the Summer.
   Think about these things ahead of time and decide when you want to have it, when it works best for your photographer, and when you’d like to have them back. Then make some decisions and try to have everything prepared for your session a few days in advance. That way, if you need or want anything last minute, you won’t scrambling the night before or the day of.

WHY? 
The wedding and the wedding-planning process is a part of your journey together. You’re working together, making decisions- some bigger, some smaller- and sort of figuring out and adjusting your relationship roles as you get ready to become husband and wife. This is huge! It seems easy and fun, yet sometimes planning can be a little crazy and overwhelming. Just take a breath and know that it is all about the two of you coming together, committing to each other forever– and that. is. awesome.
   If you want to have engagement photos taken, do it. If you don’t want to, don’t have time, don’t have it in your budget, or can’t for some reason, no worries.  If the two of you do your wedding and your planning your way, it’ll be perfect.
   If you decide to have an engagement shoot, I hope that this post, and the next one- featuring engagement photo ideas from friends and family members of mine, as well as some of the most popular pins from Wediquette’s Engagement Photo Session Ideas board- are helpful to you! Have fun, be creative, allow your photographer to be creative, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results. 

   Congratulations and Happy Planning! 

Check out more Engagement Session inspiration in the next post, featuring images from my friends! Click HERE

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