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.

Choose your props wisely.

We get it. You like cheese. Or you’re from Wisconsin. Awesome!

But when you’re in the midst of getting photographed and feel awkward standing around waiting, please don’t grab the nearest object and hold it over your head. This is what regret is made of.

 

Your fiance is not a prop.

Guys. Twilight is awesome. But posing for a photo that makes it look like you’re sucking the life out of your fiance isn’t exactly the message you want to send out. Same goes for photos of the groom pretending like buying you an engagement ring ruined his life, or other terrible gender stereotypes.

 

Be nice to your fiance

Chances are he doesn’t want to stand around all day getting his photo taken. So make sure you take him out for a nice lunch or something if he’s not into this photo thing. Otherwise, he might get annoyed and post terrible photos on his blog, mocking the entire engagement photo process.

If you’re going to go with a theme, go hard.

There are a lot of photos of movie themes out there. If you’re going to spend the money and effort on getting your photo taken and maybe hair/makeup and costumes. Why NOT be a little more obvious about it?

Because I’d be hard pressed to find someone who does not enjoy this Sith Star Wars shoot. The bride has covered herself in red and black face paint. Who among us cannot admire that dedication?

To Reiterate.

Yeah, we all loved The Notebook. But putting on a pageboy hat and posing with some letters runs the risk of just making you look like you’re trying too hard. But if you’re trying so hard that you make something amazing, like this entire series of Up photos, then more power to you.

Keep your shirt on.

Please.

Know somebody famous.

I’m pretty sure that no engagement session could top this one that Bruce Springsteen accidentally photobombed. However, if you know someone famous, try to make it someone like Will Ferrell, who won’t mind posing with you to get your photo in The New York Times Vows section.

So in conclusion. If you can follow in Anne Hathaway’s footsteps, get your photos taken for free. My husband and I skipped the whole engagement photo process, but we ended up having to go to a park with a friend to take some shots, because the Times rejected our original photo submission for our wedding announcement.

CLEARLY the Vows editors missed a major opportunity for awesomeness here: