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Is the Engagement Session really that important?

October 28, 2013


Since the beginning of time, or rather, since I started shooting weddings, I’ve included a complimentary portrait session in all of my collections. Only a few occasions have I had someone forgo the complimentary session for either money off their collection or a print credit and at the beginning I was fine with it. For the past couple years, however, I’ve really pushed the engagement session on my couples and those couples have thanked me in the end. But just the other day, I had a bride ask me, Is the engagement session really that important?? Here is what I told her:

When was the last time the two of you had professional photos taken of yourselves? In most cases the answer is never. It’s funny what happens to couples when they get in front of the camera together for the first time and are asked to do simple gestures. Holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes turns even the most down to earth people into deer caught in the headlights. Suddenly, the idea of being even remotely affectionate with each other seems like the biggest act of PDA ever witnessed, something akin to making out on a bench in Central Park. Don’t worry, this goes away after a few minutes of warming up, but without an engagement session this is exactly what you’ll experience the moment we go to pose you on your wedding day.

Sometimes it’s the very first meeting you have with your photographer. It happens more and more often, people are increasingly busy, live out of state, and I don’t always get the opportunity to meet with my couples until the engagement session. Even if we have met before, it’s nice to have that time to catch up. By the time your wedding rolls around, I feel like an old friend instead of a stuffy vendor who has to follow you around all day.

Practice makes perfect. By the time your wedding day arrives, you’ll know just about every pose I can possibly make you do. The scenery changes, and there’s more of a time constraint, but it’s pretty much exactly the same thing. You’ll feel far more comfortable and I’ll know exactly what work and doesn’t work with your two.

Some advice to prepare you for your engagement session. The best advice I can give you two on the day of your engagement session is just to be yourselves and have fun. As hard as it sounds, try and forget I’m there for a little while and just enjoy being in each other’s company without distractions.

Choosing a location. Engagement photos don’t have to be taken at sunset in a field (but they totally can be!). I always tell my couples to try and do something that’s meaningful to you both. You both love ice cream? Have your engagement session in a ice cream shop! You met at a local university? How cool would those pictures look? Give yourselves something to do, even if that means going on a picnic. You’ll feel more relaxed and the picture will be more unique rather than generic photos that don’t really speak about you as a couple.

If after you’ve read this blog post, you still don’t think you need the engagement session, the complimentary session can be used for ANY type of session: engagement, bridal, intimate, or day-after session 🙂 Whatever works for you and your wedding!


  1. Amanda Truth says:

    Rachael I think this post is awesome!! I love all of the points, and I definitely agree!! Having an engagement session is such good practice for your wedding day, I always tell my couples it gives them a chance to see how I operate and it gives me a chance to see how they love each other!! And there’s absolutely no pressure!! Great post lady 🙂