When you’re planning a wedding, you’ll find you’re often faced with choices that the wedding industry has decided are A Thing. Do you need a seating chart because it’s helpful to point your loved ones in the direction of their table? Or is the wedding industry just trying to sell you escort cards? As a result, it can be really hard to parse out what’s actually useful (pro-tip: seating charts are a good thing) and what’s good marketing.
Engagement sessions fall squarely into the seems like a marketing ploy, but can actually be useful depending on who you are category. While it might seem superfluous to have fancy photos taken of you and your partner, they can be a great opportunity to get to know your wedding photographer. And y’all? Fancy photos of you and your partner are not a bad thing to have on hand in a few years when you want to walk down memory lane. But I get it. If you’re not used to having your photo professionally taken, the idea of an engagement session can be anxiety inducing and, well, downright awkward. Which is why I’m really excited to announce that this week we are partnering up with Evite®, not only to share some of our best engagement photo tips, but also to share the huge giveaway they are hosting where you can win a $1,000 Visa® Gift Card plus custom-designed Premium Invitations for all your wedding events, from the save the date to the bridal shower.
Evite recently launched a new collection of digital wedding invitations and save the dates that are genuinely making me rethink the need for printed invitations (or printed save the dates or bachelorette party invites or shower invites, which are all but guaranteed to get lost in my house as soon as I open them). Their new designs are modern, fun, totally customizable, ad-free, and nothing at all like the digital invites you’re probably used to (or at least, the ones I encountered when I was getting married).
Evite is celebrating this new line by giving away over $2,000 worth of prizes in their Near The Knot giveaway. All you have to do is share a photo of you and your partner here, and you’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win the following:
- 1 Custom-Designed Premium Digital Invitation Suite for Your Wedding Events
- $1,000 Visa® Gift Card
1st Runner Up Prize:
- 1 Year Package of Premium Digital Invitations
- $500 Visa® Gift Card
2nd Runner Up Prize:
- 1 Year Package of Premium Digital Invitations
- $250 Visa® Gift Card
You have until March 18th to submit your photo, which means plenty of time to get a 🔥 pic of you and your partner. But if you need a little help in the meantime, we’ve brought in one of our favorite wedding photographers, Jamie Thrower of Studio XIII Photography, to give us her best tips for a fun, non-awkward, anxiety-busting photo session. Here’s what Jamie had to say:
how to slay Your Engagement Photos
So you’re newly engaged, your partner (or you!) popped the question and it’s time to celebrate! This also means it’s time to start planning your wedding (whether you’re ready or not!). As a wedding photographer I like to remind newly engaged couples to take it slow and enjoy the engagement time and process because it’s not too long before you’re bombarded and overwhelmed with napkin choices and catering choices and listening to a lot of differing opinions on how and what you should do for your wedding. However, one thing I do encourage couples to do first (regardless of my career or not), is to find a photographer you love and get engagement photos done.
I know, I know. Engagement photos seem like just ONE more thing the wedding industry thinks you need and you’re like… but why. I tend to get a lot of couples who feel nervous or anxious before their engagement shoot, especially if their experience with professional photos is limited to picture day at school… and yes, I get it. But there are actually a few ways an engagement session can be really helpful if you’re one of those people.
While they aren’t mandatory (of course), engagement sessions are a really wonderful way to become familiar with your photographer (and vice versa) before your wedding. It can also be a way for you to figure out if a photographer is right for you. Either way, doing an engagement session with someone will allow you to 1) feel what it’s like to have a camera in your face and 2) get a vibe for what working with the photographer is like and how they photograph. It’s a great way to break the ice with someone who is potentially going to be with you on one of the more intimate and important days of your life together. By the time that your wedding rolls around, you’ll feel comfortable (or as comfortable as you can be!) in front of a camera, you’ll know what kind of photos you like best of yourselves, and your wedding photographer will feel more like a friend than a total stranger.
Wedding photos are so important to have, but what about photos from this time in your life where you’re not dressed up in your wedding clothes? Engagement photos can be a collection of photos that show who you really are as a couple in your everyday lives.
Engagement photos are also a great addition to a save the date or invitation suite (hint: or digital save the date/invitation suite). You can also use the photos on your wedding website, for decor at your wedding, or create a unique guest book.
Bottom line, though, engagement sessions are fun! (I swear, I’m not just saying this because I’m a photographer and it’s my job.) This is such an exciting time in your life, and you are so worthy and deserving of having photos that reflect that. The engagement period feels like a blur, and weddings can feel like a lot of pressure, so having photos from this time where it’s truly just about the two of you is really something special.
So all that said, let’s say you are already planning on an engagement session. If you look up “engagement photo ideas” on Pinterest, it can get really overwhelming fast. Are you supposed to have props? Live in the desert? Have a formal evening gown at your disposal? Be able to achieve the Patrick Swayze lift from the end of Dirty Dancing with your partner? (No, no, and no). But there are some things that will make it easier for you.
Head to toe, let your whole body talk
I think the most stressful thing about engagement photos is usually, but what do I wear? Quite simply, wear something that you feel super hot in, but also really comfortable in. I like to encourage folks to take risks and wear something fabulous for their shoots, while also making sure it’s something that you are going to feel good in. That can be something as simple as your favorite jeans and cool shirt:
Or a fiery red evening gown because why not:
But make sure it’s not the first time you take your outfit out on the town. Wearing something that you haven’t worn before or that is uncomfortable will have you tugging or pulling at the fabric during the shoot and it will show in the photos. When picking outfits, it can be helpful to think about how they might photograph (or better yet, snap some cell phone pics while you’re playing dress up). For example, a few pro-tips:
- Skin tight jersey cotton can be tricky and unflattering, so proceed with caution.
- Anything with a teeny tiny print won’t read on camera.
- Really thin stripes can get warped on screen.
- Black and white are often hard to pick up with a camera sensor, so it’s best to avoid all black or all white outfits. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear your favorite black leather jacket or t-shirt. Just maybe not the black flight suit in the back of your closet.
- Make sure you have everything laundered and pressed (if they need it) before the shoot, because wrinkles are the devil.
If your photographer allows wardrobe changes, bring a few outfit choices or some fun accessories so that you can switch it up a bit (I recommend one casual outfit and one dressy outfit). And if you’re really stuck, a helpful hint is to use complementary colors to your partner. Which just means colors that are across from each other on the color wheel. Red or pink with green. Blue with orange. Purple with yellow. They’ll make each other stand out like this couple:
But the most important bottom line? Choose outfits that make you feel fierce AF and plan to rock it.
Put your best face forward
The nice thing about modern digital cameras is that they make really beautiful, high quality, sharp photos. The downside is sometimes they can be a little too high quality. So I always recommend leveling up your beauty routine a bit for the day of your shoot. That doesn’t mean you have to go full glam. But if your normal routine is low-key makeup, take it up a notch. Or if you’re a no-makeup person, maybe up your skincare routine the week of the shoot. Basically, one step up from your normal routine will make on-camera you look much more like IRL you.
And if you are planning on wearing makeup or getting your hair done, here’s one of my favorite trade secrets: if you’re already planning to use a makeup artist or hair stylist for your wedding, you can schedule trial run with them on the day of your shoot for an extra boost of confidence when taking photos. On the fence about hiring someone for the big day? Hit up a blow out bar or the makeup counter at your local department store for a low-stakes test run. It’s one less thing to worry about the day of your shoot, and it can help you feel ready to be photographed.
You don’t have to be someone else
If you look around at engagement shoot inspiration, you might feel pressured to stage a photo shoot that has nothing to do with you and your partner and looks more like a Vanity Fair cover spread. But that’s just wedding industry trends messing with your head. Picking a location, or planning a theme is as easy as thinking about places that are special to you and your partner and your relationship and what you like to do together.
Have a special spot that you and your partner love? Do you want to remember your first apartment together? Want to show off your sporty side by surfing together, or are you a creative, artsy couple and want to play around with smoke bombs? This is an excellent time to collaborate with your photographer on creating a shoot that is unique to you. Whether you’re wanting something quiet and in-home, or a glam, dressed-up session in a beautiful place, engagement sessions are a great way to show who you are as a couple and immortalize who you are in this moment and what’s important to you right now.
And if you’re still feeling kind of anxious about the process, I always encourage my couples to plan their session like they would a date. Making it fun and date-like makes the process feel more romantic. And planning something fun can help you and your partner feel connected and excited for the day instead of terrified and anxious for the shoot. I actually encourage my couples to not only plan the engagement session as a date, but to enjoy the entire day together leading up to the shoot. Grab a boozy coffee at brunch, spend the morning together doing something relaxing, or go out for a long lunch. By the time you show up for your session, you’ll be feeling relaxed and happy and ready to be in front of the camera.
Don’t fall into old tropes
One of the more frustrating aspects of engagement sessions is that they can very easily fall into pretty stereotypical gender tropes. Womxn looking longingly into their male partners eyes, or sitting at their feet. You know what I’m talking about. But there are a few really easy ways to avoid that during your shoot. The most helpful, of course, is to hire a photographer who walks the walk of LGBTQ allyship (and by that I mean, doesn’t use bride or groom exclusively on their website, and has lots of sample work featuring queer couples, non-binary couples, and other diversity on their site).
Beyond that, one of the simplest tips I can offer is to give yourself an activity to do. The reason that poses are often so gendered is because… poses aren’t natural. So instead, choose an activity for your photo session that will take you out of the posing mindset, and into something that flows more organically.
Go get an ice cream with your partner. Romp through a park with your dog. Hit up your local cafe or cook a meal at home. It’s really hard to get unnatural photos that don’t represent you and your partner, when you’re just being yourselves in your element.
And in a few years time you may even find you’re glad you have them.
This post was sponsored by Evite. Evite’s new line of premium digital wedding invitations are changing how you think about paper-free correspondence. Their modern designs are all fully customizable, with digital envelopes, stamps, and photo or text inserts. Plus your guests get an entirely ad-free experience. And with Evite’s #NearTheKnot giveaway, you could win a custom designed premium digital wedding invitation suite, plus a $1,000 Visa® Gift Card.