Do you really need to do an engagement photo shoot? Ask a few couples and you might be surprised with how polarizing the topic can be. While I don't usually spend my Friday afternoons getting my makeup done and skipping down cobblestones in Manolos, gazing longingly into my fiancé Mike's eyes, I am happy we decided to go for it when the engagement session was part of our photography package.
Our photographer, Lilian Haidar, came recommended from two trusted brides and I loved the editorial angle of her work. The shoot gave us time to get to know her and understand how she works – and it also prevented us from feeling like a deer in headlights on our wedding day. Getting comfortable posing together in front of the camera and knowing what to expect proved to be the most valuable part of the process. After you decide on your vendors you really don't see or speak to them again until you're a couple of months away from the big day. You're going to spend a lot of time with your photographer on your wedding day, so why not get to know each other better? It is a great way for the photographer to get an idea of what you're hoping to capture on the day of the nuptials.
We took our photos several months after getting engaged. If the timing is why you are hesitant, don't let that interfere with your decision. Once you do decide to go along with it, think about where you want to take your photos and talk to your photographer about the locations – they will definitely know more about the best places to shoot and the right time of day to capture the best lighting. Their expertise is why you booked them, after all!
We took our photos on the Friday after Thanksgiving, which proved to be an unseasonably warm day. Although I wanted to take our pictures in Brooklyn Bridge Park, the warm weather on the holiday weekend left us in a bustling crowd, which wasn't ideal. Instead, we headed to TriBeCa, per our photographer’s suggestion. The quiet streets proved to be perfect – and without crowds interfering with the process it was also easier to loosen up.
Once you have the location down, select an outfit (or two) that you feel confident in. You might also try it on prior to the session and have someone take a photo of you wearing the look so you can make sure it photographs well. Practice sitting and standing in the outfit so you can make sure you are comfortable from every angle.
Taking pictures can also be a great opportunity to test out a hairstylist or a makeup artist for the actual celebration. While I can be indecisive I'm fortunate enough to get my makeup done quite regularly, (not the worst work perk), so I have a pretty good understanding of what I do – and don't – like.
My advice? Have fun with it – even if, at first, it seems a bit unfamiliar. I'm comfortable in front of the camera and I don't mind striking a pose, but I was honestly quite anxious about the experience. Mike managed to alleviate the pressure and infused some humor in the process... and a glass of wine mid-shoot also helped.
The result? We now have a slew of frame-worthy photos that I displayed at my shower and even a great shot we incorporated into our save-the-date cards. It also gave us an idea of what to expect on our wedding day – and I'm so relieved we opted for the "practice" round!
Learn more about Katrina here, and follow her on her journey as she discovers the next steps to take after getting engaged, finding her dream wedding dress, and her tips for planning a memorable engagement party.
Photos by Lilian Haidar