Everything You Need to Know About Booking Your Engagement Session
Wedding pro experts share the when, where and why of engagement photography.
Engagement photography is more than just a formal photograph of you and your love, it's a snapshot of this incredibly special time in your lives, so we highly recommend signing up for an engagement session to capture that engagement glow.
Are Engagement Photos Necessary?
Engagement photos are not necessary, but they do come with some hefty benefits, most notably, getting comfortable in front of the camera. “Many couples have photography phobia, and getting a chance to practice being the center of attention can do wonders for your state of relaxation when shooting your wedding photos!” exclaims Cathy O'Connell of COJ Events. Think of it as a rehearsal for the wedding day, figuring our posing, body language, etc. It's also an opportunity for you to get to know your photographer, and ensure that you mesh well together.
“They're an icebreaker for you and your photographer,” notes Raven Shutley of Raven Shutley Studios. “I always describe my engagement sessions as a rad hangout where we also come away with great photos of you two.”
At What Point During Planning Should You Take Engagement Photos?
“The first step is hiring a great wedding photographer. Ideally, your wedding photographer should also be the same photographer for your engagement session. After that, the timing really depends on the final usage of the photos,” says Adam Neal of Todd Danforth Photography.
Next, decide what you want to use your engagement photos for. If you plan on using them for save-the-dates or day-of printed details, that can dictate your timeline. “In order to give you and your photographer plenty of time to edit and order your final images, I recommend taking photos at least a few months prior to your wedding,” says Kathryn Cooper of Kathryn Cooper Weddings.
Or, as Jove Meyer of Jove Meyer Events points out, if you're hoping for a certain seasonal background then let that take the lead!
Holly Gray of Anything But Gray Events also recommends having hired your beauty vendor before booking your e-sesh. “This way, you can schedule your makeup and hair trial on the same day as your engagement session and also see how the look you chose will translate through the camera.”
Another idea? Right after your proposal! “If you are already planning to hire a photographer to capture you popping the question, talk to the photographer about taking your engagement photos immediately after,” says Frank Shaver-Burgess of Events by Frank. “I love this option because you and your new fiancé/e will still be on that high and it will really come through in your photos.”
What Time of the Year Is Best for Taking Engagement Photos?
“The best time of year for your engagement photos is the time of year that makes you and your fiancé/e most happy!” continues Jove. “For some people that is summer on the beach, for others that is fall in the park, while others love winter in the mountains, there is no wrong season as long as it makes you happy and speaks to your relationship.”
“Personally, I love doing engagement sessions in an opposite season of when you're getting married,” adds Raven. “So maybe a spring engagement for a fall wedding, a summer for a winter, etc. It gets you such a different look and feel.”
However, if you want something seasonally specific, such as cherry blossoms blooming or fall foliage, talk to your photographer about when these peak times take place, and keep extreme temps (if applicable in your area) in mind.
What is the Best Time of Day for Taking Engagement Photos?
The most flattering, natural light takes place about 90 minutes after sunrise and 90 minutes before sunset, also known as Golden Hour. “You'll want to avoid lunch time and early afternoon, as the direct overhead sunlight tends to create harsh, unflattering shadows,” notes Kathryn. But, alternatively, that could work with some photographers' style. “I personally love a middle-of-the-day session!” exclaims Raven. “You've got some fun modern harsh light to play with, tons of great soft window light if you're indoors, and it tends to be WAY less crowded if you're taking them out in public!”
How Much Do Engagement Sessions Cost?
Costs vary depending on the length and style of session you'd like. “A one-hour session on-location at a public park is generally less expensive than a half day studio session with multiple outfit changes,” says Jon Lemon of JC Lemon Photography.
“Depending on where you live or where you're having your photos done, you can expect to pay anywhere from $400 – $1200+ for a professional, insured photographer for 1-4 hours,” adds Kathryn.
While you're inquiring with wedding photographers, be sure to ask if they include engagement sessions as part of their package, which many do.
“This is because photographers recognize the importance of engagement sessions, particularly the importance of meeting and spending time with the couple before the big day. It’s a win-win for the couple and the photographer,” notes Adam.
What's the Turnaround Time for Photographers to Edit Engagement Photos?
Turnaround time for editing engagement photos tends to fall between two and six weeks. “It always could be less or more depending on the time of the year — busy vs. slow season — and the photographer's process,” adds Holly. “You can also request that the photographer do a few sneak peeks earlier if you are on a time crunch. Ask and never assume!”
As a lover of all things wedding and a fierce cheerleader for marriage equality, I decided to marry my two passions and create a resource where all couples—gay, straight and lesbian—can be equally represented. Armed with seven years in both print and online lifestyle journalism, I dove headfirst into this passion project in 2013 and Love Inc. was born.
I’m inspired every day by the couples that grace our pages, from the can’t-live-without-you grasps to the gentle sweeping away of a happy tear, the love that they so clearly have for each other is intoxicating, and drives me to create the best product possible … while enjoying every second of it.