• Wed, Aug 4 2010

Engagement Photos Are Stupid

Yesterday, my colleague Jessica Ogilvie posted about bad engagement photos. That got me off on another tangent. I think engagement photos are stupid. I’m not sure if they’re more popular or prevalent in the South, where I’m from, but they sure seem to be. Engagement photos, in case you haven’t heard of them, are a photoshoot taken shortly after a couple gets engaged. They are usually designed to show off a) the ring and b) how happy the couple is. Here’s the usual formula for how they work:

1. Get engaged. Yay!

2. For reason I have never been able to suss out, pay a bunch of money to get a ton of pictures of you taken.

3. Pose in front of several “nature” scenes, such as “the covered bridge,” “the man-made lake,” “the trellis with flowers all over it,” and/or “the very nicely polished boulders.”

4. Choose an assortment of these poses: “looking lovingly into each other’s eyes,” “holding hands with fingers criscrossed so you can be in love and show off her rock,” and “he hugs her from behind and rests his head on her shoulder.” Bonus points if you already have a pet or child together who you can bring in to use as an accessory.

5. Some people go full throttle and do pictures of them kissing, which no one (including your grandmother, who loves every picture of you ever taken because you’re her special sweet punkin) wants to see.

6. Get about a hundred pictures taken.

7. Send one in to the newspaper along with your engagement announcement. Maybe  another one will work for your save the date announcement. What will you do with the other 98?

In a culture where people openly embrace being called Bridezillas and turn their wedding into a yearlong affair, engagement photos are just another example of uneccessary, overpriced shit that people will pay for because they think they need to.

Here’s a tip, budget-conscious brides to be: there will be a ton of photos of you and your beloved from your actual wedding. You’ll be in a beautiful dress, and you’ll have professional hair and makeup, and you’ll look great. So just fill your scrapbook with those instead.

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  • Kate

    I don’t really see the point of engagement photos, either, other than to have nice photos of you and your fiance(e) in somewhat normal clothes, but…they’re not actually an added expense. The photographers I’ve looked at for my wedding (in Iowa) have all listed a free engagement session – basically, you’re already paying for it in the marked up wedding package, so you might as well have them taken.

    • Rachel

      Kate- In the South, engagement pictures are very much an added expense– the photographers that shot the weddings of many of my friends were not the ones who did their engagement session, so it’s definitely different down here. I shudder to think of how many more engagement pictures would be shown on facebook if they were free around here…. Yikes :)

  • Beth

    It’s even worse when a couple, who is not even engaged, gets professional pictures taken. I can’t even imagine doing that…running around in a field, frolicking through flowers, peering around a tree at each other. It’s all so cheesy and annoying. I have a bunch of people on my Facebook that think these photo shoots are necessary. They really are not. Take pictures yourself of you two actually doing something, going somewhere, something that actually represents you as a couple. That’s what I think at least :P

  • hanna

    Yes. Yes. Thank you. Yes.

    When my college friends began getting engaged, it was right at the cusp of Facebook’s popularity. Suddenly, every weekend, there they were : photos of controversial diamonds in front of non-confrontational “urban” settings. Yay? You got engaged?

    Where did this tradition come from? Is this recent?

  • Eileen

    I don’t think they’re any more stupid than getting a studio portrait of your family, or of you and some of your friends. Yeah, it’s nice to take pictures of you two actually doing stuff, but some people don’t photograph very well and need a lot of tries to get a picture right, or some people are just bad at remembering to bring a camera. It’s nice to have pictures. It’s even nicer to have nice pictures of you with someone you love at a time you might want to look back on. I mean, if you can’t afford it obviously you shouldn’t have it done, but if you can afford it and you enjoy looking at them, why not?

  • Zachary

    I recently went to a wedding where the couples engagement pictures were carefully organized into a PowerPoint and played during their wedding. Do we need a reminder that the couple is getting married and that before this day they had indeed gotten engaged? The white dress and rings had already made me aware that this isn’t a funeral or a bat mitzvah. I don’t need my inteligence mocked once again by showing me pictures of the engagement. And furthermore, how often do engaged couples really stand against trees and lay in fields of sunflowers?

    -Zac

    • Susan B Anthony

      I must have been at the same wedding. I am happy for those that get married, but it does seem to be a big display of self indulgence.

  • eEv

    My fiance and I had engagement photos done, because there were no other pictures of the two of us other than from Halloween, where we were dressed as Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent. However, we got them done for free by a photographer friend in his studio. And we look very serious and dignified. No frolicking for us, thank you.

    • Jennifer Wright

      You had a Hitchhiker’s Guide joint Halloween costume? And you didn’t want to share those pictures in every possible situation? I am shocked.

  • rachel

    HAHAHAHAHA, this is wonderful. I am so glad other people feel this way. I think it’s cheesy. Why, no, in fact, I don’t want to kiss on camera. It makes me think of Monica and Chandler on “Friends” taking their engagement pictures–he couldn’t smile for the camera, and the episode was painfully uncomfortable and awkward. Just exactly how I feel while looking at engagement pictures!
    I will say, though– one of my friends got engaged a couple of weeks ago, and her now-fiancé hired a photographer to hide in the bushes to capture the proposal– He then promptly took a few engagement pictures. I think that, while superfluous, of course, this is the only legitimate way to take these. Because they just decided to spend the rest of their lives together, and the emotion, or love, or whatever it is, was still quite fresh. Having said that, I am from the South as well. It makes me wonder how much different — or less annoying in terms of Facebook– my life might be in the absence of engagement photos… Hmmm….

    • Joey Jo

      I once saw some live engagement photos like the ones you described, except the couple was on a boat and the photographer was in a helicopter above them. Was a bit cute, but still I had to laugh out loud.

  • Diane

    People in the UK don’t seem to do this — we don’t really approve of drawing attention to yourself, especially for stuff like, oh, HAVING A CONVERSATION, which is all getting engaged is when you get right down to it.

    We didn’t used to have baby showers here, though, in the pre-Friends era, and we didn’t even celebrate Halloween before the 80s, so I guess engagement photos are coming…

  • Morgan

    I agree that there’s no reason to spend a ton of money on engagement pics. But I think it’s nice to have some photos of yourselves. Remember back when people would get their photos taken occasionally, by a professional, and get real live prints of them? Nobody does that anymore. If anything it’s just an excuse to get a nice professional shot of yourself and your mate. Heck, they don’t even have to be for engagement. Do it after the wedding. Do it on your one year anniversary. Do it randomly at some point. But I think it’s nice for everyone to have a nice portrait or shot together with your husband, and even by yourself too.

  • Morgan

    Not to mention I don’t want the ONLY nice pictures of me to be me in a wedding dress. Like that’s the only way I ever existed or something.

  • Holly

    I don’t understand why people are so bitter and judgmental about how others carry out their lives…
    If you want engagement pictures, get them. If you don’t, don’t do it.
    There are so many amatuer photographers around, why not just find a friend with a high-tech camera and photoshop software to do it? That would cut down on the expense.
    BUT, I can’t help but fall in love with the pictures my parents had made years ago. They had engagement pictures, and before us kids were born, they had pictures made in matching shirts, or on anniversaries and such. I love looking at Mom”s teased hair and Dad’s steller mustache. And these pictures are proffesional settings that are still suitable to frame and place around my house.
    They don’t have to be paraded around and posted on everything, but if you can, you might want to get them done.

  • Edward Maurer

    I see your point. However, if your photographer is good then the reason for the engagement pictures is far more than just pretty pictures. It’s a time to become familiar with the photographer. It’s a time to learn how to position yourself to look your best in pictures. On the wedding day you will feel comfortable in front of the camera and comfortable with your photographer.

  • wittbelle

    Engagement pictures are extremely gay and are just another example of how eager stupid people are to part with their money. It’s no wonder this country is in the financial mess it is in when engagement photos and groom’s cakes and other ridiculous “customs” (they weren’t customs 20 years ago when I got married, but all of a sudden they are), are a requirement to getting married. I wonder how many people would actually get married if it was a simple, quiet civil ceremony without all the expensive trappings. I think a lot of people, (especially women) have been swept away with the romantic notion of marriage and haven’t really given the actual union a great deal of thought. Hey, speaking of thoughts, I have one: Why don’t we put the focus of marriage back on the relationship instead of the wedding and stop squandering thousands of dollars on an impersonal, garish ceremony and a giant drunk-fest for 300 of our closest friends? Just an idea…

  • metoo

    AGREE! It seems so totally arrogant. Weddings are becoming just a way to show off and be self-centered, engagements now too. I understand you found your mate, you’re happy, you want everyone to know. But how about just telling them and inviting them to your wedding? And honestly it’s not like you don’t already have photos of the two of you plastered all over your facebook anyway. It’s like as soon as you are not single, it’s an excuse to be so self-centered and egotistical it’s unbelievable– but it’s ok, because it’s not just you, it’s now “a family.” Puke.

  • marlei

    I feel good that i am not the only one who feels annoyed by them.!! I am a woman, 100% pro wedding, looking forward for mine hopefully soon, and agree to make the WEDDING as beautiful as possible, but regarding the so called “engagement photos”, in my opinion if you are truly happy, you do not need to show off to the world how great you look together and how happy you are when you are kissing, holding hands or talking in such a fake and artificial environment… leave this moments for you both, and save money for the wedding day! :)

  • Joey Jo

    The really kiss-y and wrapped-around-one-another pics embarrass me. Feel like I should look away.