Engagement Pictures and Pre-Wedding Sessions: Tips and Advice
[Editor’s note: Here are at Mykey Day Photography – we really, really love shooting engagement sessions! We find they’re a great way for our clients to get to know us, and for us to get to know them. We always strongly suggest our clients book a pre-wedding photo session as there are so many benefits, and after many years of shooting pre-wedding sessions around the globe, we have compiled a list of tips and tricks for engagement photography.]
What is an Engagement Session?
An engagement session (or pre-wedding shoot) is offered to couples before the wedding day, by their wedding photographer or a location photographer. An engagement session is the perfect opportunity to get to know your photographer and the way we work. You can also use the stunning imagery created for your ‘save-the-dates’ and invitations.
Furthermore – it’s the perfect excuse to enjoy an hour or two full of fun and candid moments with your future partner!
Why do it?
The idea of having pictures taken, especially an engagement session, can be very intimidating or scary for a couple. Very often it’s the first time you have had professional photos taken – and the spotlight is all on you! With that in mind, the best engagement photographs happen when you feel relaxed and comfortable We achieve this by having you engage with each other rather and ‘be in the moment’, rather than “performing” for the camera. We have a few tricks up our sleeves for making you feel completely relaxed and comfortable, so as to get genuine smiles and moments from you during your session – rather than just “cheesing” for the camera!
We always suggest our clients consider a pre-wedding photo session, and very many do, for multiple reasons:
- The first hour with a photographer, as mentioned above, can be very scary – even more so if it is your wedding day! Why not get all those nerves out the way and ‘hit the ground running’ on your wedding day with a photographer you now trust?
- Related to the above point, we like to teach our clients extremely simple but effective ‘tricks’ and ‘cheats’ when it comes to posing and interacting. With these super simple techniques already experienced, as well as gorgeous engagement pictures before the wedding, we find our clients are super relaxed and excited about having creative images on their wedding day!
- With the imagery created, we often provide canvas and wall decor images for our clients, but also we provide engagement books which can double up as guest books for the wedding day itself. Check out our engagement books for more examples…
When do it?
The beauty of an engagement session is that there is more flexibility with regards to availability and the weather. We offer Engagement sessions to our clients almost all year round but massively limit the number we offer in late Autumn and Winter (November to March) due to the failing light and poor predictability of the weather meaning postponing is incredibly likely. We also limit the total number we do in any given year so as to maintain high quality and consistency in the imagery when having to deal with postponing due to the lovely English weather! Indeed we have had to limit the number of engagement sessions we do in Winter as it is not uncommon to postpone 4 or 5 times due to weather!
We also only allow booking in your engagement session up to circa three months in advance, this is so to be fair to all our clients when booking key Spring and late autumn dates, as well as teachers who can only do half-term dates. Kindly also note these sessions, like timeline meetings, are only available weekday mornings through to early afternoons (or evening sunset times in Summer), as we do not have any weekend availability after attending weddings and wedding fairs exclusively at weddings.
What to wear?
What to wear is a huge question, and there’s no perfect answer. We always tell our clients to come as the ‘best version of yourselves possible’.
What we mean by this is, dress the way you like to dress, when going to an important occasion. We’re not talking tuxedos, but we are definitely saying ‘t-shirt and jeans won’t cut it!’ haha!
Other simple tips include:
- Coordinate, but don’t match. It’s more important to compliment each other with a similar colour palette, rather than exactly matching clothes.
- Dress colourfully! Too often couples wear black or gray because “you can’t go wrong with those colours” – but the opposite is true! If you wear dark colours on a bright sunny day or in a colourful environment – you will clash horribly with the scenery you are in. If it’s a grey cloudy day, then you might just end up blending into the background!
- Bring a change of clothes or two. We always suggest you bring a change of clothes for a variety of imagery. This could be as simple as bringing a spare jacket and scarf to swap into during an Autumn engagement shoot, for example.
- Dress for the weather. Of course if you’re having a beach shoot or sunny park day shoot you will want long flowing dresses, but if you’re having a winter engagement session then classy smart coats and scarves/gloves would not be out of place!
- Don’t overdo it. As said above, we want you to dress smart for images that will last a lifetime and beyond, but if you turn up to the beach in a dinner jacket or high heels – it just isn’t going to work!
- Wear something you feel comfortable in. A little bit overdressed is usually a good option, as said above “the best possible version of you” is great way to look at it.
- Look at your outfits together. Do the colours match? Are you too similar? A red dress and a pink shirt (it’s happened!) might not be the best option…
Location, location, location. It’s important but you don’t need to choose famous landscapes for them to be wonderful. We always suggest couples choose somewhere that either a) means something to them as a couple, or b) is a beautiful location you both love.
- Where you first proposed / first met / first date…. This is an obvious one if you happened to have a wonderful location that means something in the story of your lives. In the past we’ve shot engagement sessions in Austria and Ibiza, because this is where important moments happened for our couples.
- Somewhere that means something to you. Even if there is no special event attached to it, often there is a pretty location that you both frequent often. Whether it’s a park where you always walk your dog, the park you both love to visit, or maybe just the castle grounds you were at ‘that one time’, which sticks in both your minds…
- Somewhere super pretty! Even if there are no locations that pop to mind from your past, maybe it’s time to start writing your future?? Some of our most amazing imagery has come when the couple have just decided “that location is beautiful, we want to go there!” If you’re not sure, talk to us and we’ll help you decide on a location.
- Join us abroad! This is our favourite location! We are often shooting weddings around Europe (very often Rome and Spain), and we always suggest our clients plan a weekend break or holiday to coincide with our shooting abroad – that way you can have an engagement session in Rome, Venice, Seville, or Barcelona at no extra cost!!!!
- National Trust & Forestry England Locations: We’ve had increasing requests for locations at National Trust properties and Forestry England, but unfortunately these organisations are positively anti-photography when dealing with them in practice. Be aware they tend to charge £50 per hour on top of entry and parking fees for photo sessions at their properties (charging so much bceause they think the photographer pays when in fact it is you!), and also have idiosyncratic paperwork they require to be filled out which adds to the complexity. We’re not saying it’s impossible, but we now ask that you contact and obtain permission directly so as to book in your session at one of these properties, the same as any private premises you may wish to utilise!
Things to avoid
- Other family members. Sometimes couples want to bring their kids or other family members along to be included in the imagery – this is something we outright refuse – because an engagement session should be about the two of you!
- Props. We love props – but only when they are meaningful to you! A lot of cliché prop ideas, whilst they look cute on a stranger on pinterest, in the real world they often just look silly. So make sure to bring things that are meaningful to you!
- The Dog. We don’t say no to this, but we strongly suggest you have another family member to take charge of them during the session. The reason being, there’s only 1 or 2 shots we’re likely to make with the dog, and the rest of the time they’ll just be barking at you making you nervous!
- Signs that say “She said yes!” Or “I stole her heart, so she’s stealing my last name” It’s a cute idea, but (as above) it’s ‘an idea’ that you probably saw somewhere else, and a fad that will be over in a year or two. We strongly encourage our clients (and work with them) to be themselves, and make imagery that’s both meaningful to them and that will last a lifetime…
Ultimately, it’s a personal choice what to include or exclude from your engagement photos. As long as its ‘you both’ who are the focus of your photos, that’s what makes the most lasting imagery.
We live in the UK… This is a going to be a problem!
We always suggest Winter/Spring for the majority of our clients (coinciding with summer wedding dates), and the weather can of course be variable. If it’s raining, we often offer to our clients to reschedule, as it’s all our interests that the images are the best they can be. That doesn’t necessarily mean ‘super sunny’, as we can capture fantastic imagery on cloudy days, but if it’s heavily raining then we always offer a free re-schedule…
Hair & Make-up
We often suggest that you pay for another session for your engagement session, in order to get the most bang-for-buck from your photos that will last a life-time. This way you can discuss with your MUA the type of make up that will be most suitable – Sure, if we are shooting a rooftop engagement session with a long dress and high heels, then yes, you might want a heavy look – but if you’re having photos taken at the beach, a little more casual might be the way to go.
Kent Wedding Photographer Mykey Day
Your Wedding Day will never be as important to anyone else as it is to you, but trust us when we say – your wedding will be crucially important to us as well! Please browse our website for examples of our work, and we look forward to making your wedding photographs special too.