Say Yes To The Mess: Engagement Photos. Friend Or Foe?

This week the world learned that Anne Hathaway is engaged to be married to her boyfriend Andrew Shulman. And armed with the knowledge that people would be chasing her around until they got a shot of her huge rock, the future Mrs. Catwoman tricked the paparazzi into taking a free engagement photo session of the happy couple, out frolicking and walking their dog in Brooklyn.

Ladies, take heed. If you want to have photos of yourself frolicking with your fiance, try to get trick someone to do it for free. This, if you can pull it off, is called a wedding mitzvah.

Unfortunately, most newly engaged couples are not chased around by paparazzi. But they often want photographic evidence of their new status. For some, posting a snapshot to Facebook will suffice. But increasingly, couples are shelling out for a professional photo session. That will cost you a pretty penny. And as far as wedding accoutrements go, the engagement session is pretty superfluous. Yet, more and more people are doing it. So herein a guide with some general tips to follow if you choose to embark on this photographic journey.

Do you need engagement photos? No. Do you want them? …Maybe?

Posed engagement photos require a bit of suspended disbelief from the viewer. No, you likely did not appear in a majestic setting in matching outfits and spontaneously get your photo professionally taken. On one level, I agree with other writers on The Gloss that engagement photo shoots can just be an excuse for people to make fun of you.

But I can also see the appeal to couples of having a well composed image of themselves. And though in the world of iPhones and Instagram and party photo booths it seems shocking that a couple wouldn’t have a decent photo of themselves, professional photos often make for great Save The Dates for engaged couples. But there are a lot of places where this can go wrong.

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    • victoria

      as a former wedding planner, i always encouraged my clients to have engagement photos taken to prepare themselves for the horror of having their picture taken all day long at the actual wedding. it helps them to get comfortable in front of the camera!

    • Colleenc

      My fiancee and I are getting our engagement photos done this weekend. Our first actual date (where we weren’t just hooking up at his place after sexting for hours) was at our favorite bookstore, where we had coffee and wandered the shelves and learned about each other’s taste in literature. So, for the photos we’ve arranged with the manager (I used to work there and still know all the staff) to have our photographer do our shoot in the same store. We’re going with vintage nerd type outfits – he’ll be in slacks with a shirt and tie and suspenders – trying to get him a fedora as well, and I’ll be in a pencil skirt with a blouse and cardigan and pearls.

      Our photographer made our engagement photos part of the package deal for our wedding photography, and we’re going to use them for our invitiations. Plus, my mom wants pictures of us together to frame and to show off to my grandmother.

      • Lisa

        Oh. Good. Lord. Did you not read the article?

    • Fabel

      I always thought engagement photos were a way for those terribly cutesy Facebook couples to legitimate their hobby of posting albums with 32901415 pictures of themselves in loving poses. But I can see Victoria’s argument being valid.

    • Missh

      All of these engagement photos are turrrible. People, stop inflicting your cheesiness on the general population.

    • Avodah

      How is it a “wedding mitzvah”? Engagement photos have nothing to do with a halachically valid wedding. I don’t get the joke. Maybe it was just a crappy joke.

    • Odbery

      If you go about it the right way (ie Zombie Apocalypse, Up etc) I can see engagement photos as something fun to do. Plus, when you start decorating your house with pictures of you and your spouse (as many do before they have kids to take up the space) they’ll break up the monotony of wedding photos.

      …Most of these are pretty gross though, and definitely did not require a professional photographer.

    • Dee

      I don’t know.. I’ve been on the fence about engagement photos. My fiance and I have a lot of photos together, but no professional shots. I mean, I’d like to have them just so we can build an album and hang a few nice non-wedding shots around the house, but as stated.. they’re expensive. And it’s not like we really *need* them. I guess I’d just like to have a few really nice photos of us– nothing creepy or costume-y (personally I think Hathaway’s photo with her dog and fiance by the tree is adorable.)

    • Hanna Brooks Olsen

      I won’t lie–I think that engagement photos are much more for the couple than for anyone else…unless they’re really awful, in which case they’re a gift to all of us.

    • Kelly

      Why is everyone hating on engagement photos? People take photos to commemorate all kinds of life events – graduations, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, or even just because they want a picture of their family. Hell, there was a time when pictures were taken after someone died. Why are engagement photos any different than any other kind of celebratory picture?