It happens. You’re deep into the throws of planning your wedding, and already you’re starting to reach (or exceed) the original budget you’ve laid out for yourself. Immediately you go into panic mode, the “what can I cut back on to save money” mindset. I started seeing this more and more when I first began entering the wedding industry, and no matter what I tried to do or how convincing I tried to be, “engagement sessions” was usually one of the first things cut from the list.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to save money so you can invest in what you need to for your wedding day, and in fact, we have to do that sometimes! But instead of brushing this photography session under the rug for good, I’d like to share with you my engagement session process, and the real reason I offer them at all.
WHY THEY’RE IMPORTANT
If you aren’t sold on an engagement session, I can probably guess why.
When is the last time you had professional photos taken? Was it picture day back in elementary school? Let’s just say it is. I’m going to say two things: one will be obvious, but the other maybe not so much.
- Engagement (and wedding) photos are NOT like picture day
- Picture day is subconsciously (probably) why you are okay with taking the least amount of photos possible
I still shudder thinking about how uncomfortable, unhappy, awkward, and silly I felt every time my parents dressed me up for those days. If anything remotely reminds me of that time, I will gladly look the other way. And that’s what I want to change — your thoughts about what photography is, and what it isn’t.
I want you to have a different, and better, experience and realize an engagement session is the perfect time to forget those old memories and fears. It’s the time to immerse yourself in emotions, feelings, and thoughts, and together. Not only do you get comfortable with each other fast in front of a snapping camera so your wedding photos are truly, truly genuine and you (verses feeling nervous) on your wedding day, but we get to know each other. You know just how chill and relaxed I am and how I have prepared everything for you — you get to be truly, yourself.
HOW I STOPPED THE TREND
“Hey, let’s go run around for a couple hours.”
When I started seeing this trend in couples foregoing this crucial part of their wedding experience (keep reading for the answer to why they’re so vital!), I did something crazy: I started offering them for free. Whenever couples booked a package with me, they received a 2-hour engagement session complimentary. That’s how much I believed in them. I was willing to add on hours extra to my personal schedule to edit, cull, and send them off in a gallery, because I truly believe these are some of the most important photos you will ever take. And the reactions I get when every couple receives them in their inbox never disappoints. And although I no longer offer them complimentary, the galleries from my past engagement sessions I show prospective clients are enough to convince them it is so worth it.
WHY THEY’RE A CRUCIAL PART OF YOUR STORY
It’s a means to an experience.
I’ll say it again: there’s nothing wrong with trying to save money so you can invest in what you need to for your wedding day, and I get it — photography isn’t always high up there on the list! But what I realized was that whenever it happened and that decision was made, it wasn’t their fault. It was mine. I had not taken the time to explain to them how engagement sessions weren’t just an excuse by photographers to make a few extra hundred dollars, but rather were a means to a vital experience that exemplifies their story.
Tom Ford said it best: “The most important things in life are the connections you make with others.” An engagement session with me isn’t just “stand here”, “sit there”, “smile, please”. It’s emotional. It’s moving. It’s calm, sweet. It’s even hilarious. And if you’re reading this thinking “Well you’re just capturing different emotions on camera”, I encourage you to look at it from a deeper point of view. I might deliver prompts to begin a train of emotion or thought, but ultimately I’m allowing you to be yourself in response to that prompt, which has a universe-wide range of emotions, facial expressions, laughs, tears, and happiness, unique to you. You are in your own way, together. How you react to each other, how you support one another, how you love, is seen. I am merely the documenter and observer. Those photos are connections you feel and memories you want to remember when you view them in your own gallery.
Not only do you get comfortable with me and in front of the camera, but out of all the universe-wide range of emotions, you experience those ones, raw, precious. Fleeting. We’re always in a rush to get what we absolutely need and forget the prior stages of how we got there, and in this case how we got to the wedding day. (Think about it: do your parents have engagement photos? Your grandparents? Wouldn’t those have been adorable to see?). They are important to your entire story.
That’s really to me why it’s called an “engagement” session. It’s not just celebrating your union as a couple, or a milestone in your lives. It’s a set time to engage in moments that have already been laid out for you. I’m just there to capture it.
Interested in booking an engagement session with me? Let’s chat!