I won’t lie, I was wicked stressed out about taking my engagement photos. We scheduled them really quickly, since we live in Massachusetts and as we all know, winter is coming. (50,000 points if you can name the reference!) We’re having a relatively short engagement, and as silly as it sounds, I really wanted to get our engagement photos done before Christmas 2012 so we could use some of them for our Christmas card. For Christmas 2013 we’ll obviously be using a wedding photo, so 2012 is really all the chance I’ve got to use our engagement photos in a practical application like this one. There are so many more intelligent, compelling reasons to schedule and take engagement photos, and I’ll discuss some of them soon. But the reality for me is that I wanted a pretty Christmas card photo. So I did them as soon as we signed our photography contract.
Pretty much everyone has heard the really great reasons to take engagement photos. They help you get to know your photographer and her style, they help you get comfortable with your photographer and comfortable with the whole photo shoot experience. Most people haven’t taken professional photos since their senior pictures, so everyone can use a refresher course on that. They’re also great to use for your save the dates (we had already made and sent ours, so we couldn’t, but more on those later!) and there’s always the classic using them as a photo guest book for your wedding, which is probably what I’ll also be doing. But really, for me, it was all about the Christmas cards.
Before our shoot, I read a lot of blogs with engagement photo tips, so I wanted to pay it forward and give some of my tips. I only had about a week or two to prepare for the pictures, so I did the best I could. I drank a lot of water, washed my face with my Clarisonic religiously, and avoided salt as much as possible, but a week can only do so much, you know?
My best tip from my engagement shoot is to splurge and have your hair and makeup professionally done. I’m not doing my hair and makeup trials until this winter/spring, so that was kind of out of the question for me. If that’s an option for you, take it! Instead, I did what I do best, and hit the web. I’ve had great luck finding restaurants and vendors through Yelp and this time was no exception. I searched for a salon close by my house and hit pay dirt when I found Verde Salon in Braintree. The two owners of the salon were the ones who personally did my hair and makeup, and I was thrilled. I can never get my own hair to look as good as it does when someone else does it, and I really appreciated the makeup primers and finishers they put on me, my makeup stayed put!
I felt so much more confident taking photos knowing my hair and makeup looked really great. It was completely worth the salon splurge.
I was also really concerned with what we both should wear. I didn’t want us in matching outfits or anything, but I didn’t want us to clash. Honestly, Joe was much easier to dress than I was! My tips on wardrobe may sound pretty common sense, but it’s worth noting. First of all, don’t be afraid to shop your closet! You may have already bought the pieces of the perfect outfit! While I wouldn’t necessarily wear an outfit I’ve worn 50 times before, I did incorporate elements of both of our outfits that we previously owned and in fact love. I bought a few new key pieces, and made it all work. Second, dress in something that looks like “you.” If, like me, you buy your dress for your engagement photos with the thought that you can wear it to the office or to the family Thanksgiving dinner (which I did!) then that’s probably a good thing.
I’ve spent a lot of time before and after we took our photos looking at engagement photos, and I will say, I love when the couple’s outfits change. I love having a more formal and a casual outfit. By formal, i don’t mean a ball gown or anything! I wore a dress I’ve since worn to the office, with tights and colorful flats. Joe wore his suit pants, his favorite dress shirt, and a tie. We did end up having to lose the tie halfway through the shoot because the wind was causing major problems with it, but I still love the look. For our casual look, I wore dark skinny jeans and black boots with one of my favorite tank tops under a new purple pea coat. Joe wore his dark jeans with a black tee shirt and his new green coat. Before we arrived at Castle Island, Joe and I were on the fence about whether or not he’d wear his suit pants at all, or if he’d just stay in his jeans for both looks, and I’m really pleased that we chose to go a little more formal.
My next tip is to trust your photographer. Leah had lots of ideas when we started out, and already had shots planned. At the end of the shoot, we decided to venture out a bit to the far end of the loop around the Island, and I’m pretty sure some of the pictures we got there are going to be amazing. We didn’t choose to go with a “theme”, because that’s not really us, but if you want a theme, talk with your photographer. They’re in the business after all!
At the end of the day, you want to leave your engagement photo session saying to each other, “Wow, that was so much fun!” and we definitely did. We were really comfortable the whole time (especially after we changed into our jackets brrrrr!) and left the session feeling really excited about the results and about our wedding. For most people, it’s your chance to get to know your photographer. We were lucky, we already knew our photographer, but I can see even more how important it is to establish that rapport.