Announcing Your News to the World

Engagement photos can be a good warm-up for you and your (soon-to-be) other half

Compiled by R. Legault

The other day I was at the office and overheard the flutter of female voices. “Did you expect it?” “What did he do then?” That’s right: Nicole had just become engaged in the most romantic way. 

No matter what you think of the proposal, it goes without saying that getting engaged is one of the happiest moments in a woman’s life. And, immediately you begin thinking about how that day will unfold: what gown will I wear? What colours? What venue? What time of day? What style of photography? How can we ensure everyone looks happy? What? Did you say, happy?

The fact is, the wedding day can add a level of stress that affects your performance in front of the camera. It doesn’t necessarily mean you—but your partner. Many photographers will admit that one of the most difficult parts of their jobs during a wedding photo shoot is keeping the couple “on.” A wedding can literally be a day-long photo session, which is exhausting. Most of us aren’t models and few of us feel extremely comfortable and natural in front of the camera.

Many photographers include an engagement photo session as part of the overall package, which presents a good opportunity to see your photographer in action. It also gives the photographer a chance to experiment with flattering angles, poses, and lighting levels before the wedding day.

Let’s face it: one of best parts of getting married is all the attention you receive. You should be the star. But not everyone feels that way. A great way to practise is through an engagement photo shoot, as it provides a dry run for the big day. It gives you a chance to get to know your photographer and the photos can be used to announce your engagement to the world.

So, here we have some tips for you to make this session very helpful:

  • Talk about your story to the photographer so you relax. The more comfortable you are together describing this to your photographer, the more relaxed and natural the pictures will be. While the cam-era’s snapping, retell your best couple stories and relive a few of the moments that brought you together. The pictures worth capturing often happen in the in-between moments. 
  • Think of a theme for the photo shoot that will provide a beautiful backdrop to your unique story. Revisiting sites that are significant to the two of you: the restaurant where you had your first date, the café you frequent on Sundays, the bus stop where you shared an umbrella—you get the idea. A beautiful lakeside dock at sunset will offer amazing light and put the icing on a beautiful story. 
  • Take the time and effort to think about what you’ll wear. Couples who do so, add so much depth to their shoot and end up with photos they’re proud to keep out for a lifetime. But we don’t mean dressing to the nines. Elevate your normal day-to-day wardrobe with a gorgeous, drop-dead colour and matching lip colour. A fitted shirt, or out-of-the pants well-pressed shirt, and a fresh shave and beard trim will make your groom feel confident. This comes across in the photos. 
  • Keep your jewellery very simple to avoid flashy distractions. For the guys, that means leave your watch and gold chains in the dresser. Women should stick to unfussy earrings with a simple necklace or bracelet (or one statement piece), and your engagement ring. 
  • Book a meeting with your photographer before you take the photos. Here is when aspects of your mannerisms will be noticed and used or downplayed for your big day. 

Countdown to your wedding

The best time to snap your paired-up pictures depends on how and when you plan to use them. Here’s a rundown of photo scheduling options—choose whatever works for you.

Day one/two

Take a picture of yourselves to commemorate the moment you get engaged—you’ll already be wearing a photogenically (and naturally) happy smile!

First month

Schedule a photo shoot early in your engagement if you plan to submit a formal engagement announcement with a photo to your local paper. (Check your paper’s guidelines for specific pose or print quality requirements, which are often listed on the newspaper’s website.) When you set the wedding date: Have a photo taken for your wedding website or save-the-date—many couples incorporate photos of themselves into the design. If this trend appeals to you and you’re planning to send guests an early heads-up, have photos taken eight to ten months before the wedding, in time to print and send save-the-dates no later than six months before the wedding.

Six to eight months before

You can also take engagement pictures once you’ve booked your wedding photographer or when you’re narrowing down your final choices (which should occur when your planning countdown hits the eight-months-prior mark).

Three months before

If you plan to submit a shot with your newspaper wedding announcement, check their guidelines for specifics and schedule a picture-taking session at least three months before the wedding. Larger newspapers ask to receive wedding submissions up to six weeks before the event, and you’ll want to factor in four to six weeks before that deadline to see your proofs and make prints.

Two months before

Trying out wedding day looks? Schedule hair and makeup trial appointments the same day as your engagement photo session to capture a preview of your wedding day fabulous-ness on film (you could do the salon in the morning and the photo studio in the afternoon). Factor in some in-between time for damage control, on the off chance that the salon results aren’t as great as you hoped.

Up to one month before

Planning to feature your smiling faces on the wedding pro-gram, the favors or plastered on the hot air balloon in which you’ll be leaving the reception? Schedule pictures in plenty of time to see proofs, select your favourites and get everything you need printed up.

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