Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you are most likely newly-engaged and in the beginning stages of planning your wedding. The to-do list is growing longer and longer, and somewhere at the top of that list is booking a photographer for an engagement session so you can hurry and get those save the dates out!
Chances are you don’t have model experience, and the idea of being in front of a camera is terrifying. In order to help you avoid unnecessary stress, I have listed below ways for you to shake off the nerves and enjoy your time in the spotlight.
1. Get to know your photographer. Set aside time to meet with your wedding photographer and develop a relationship, you don’t want to be strangers on the day of the session or the wedding. Trust is the key to forgetting the camera and letting your relationship shine.
2. Why an Engagement Session? The laid back setting will give you the freedom to adjust and loosen up. Think of it as practice for the wedding day but also a celebration of your engagement. It will also give you and the photographer a chance to get better acquainted and determine what will and wont work for the wedding.
Book the same photographer for your wedding and engagement session, you will be so much more in sync on the big day!
3. Schedule plenty of time, but not too much. You don’t want to be on a ticking clock on the day of your session. If your photographer offers mini sessions as well I would suggest upgrading to a full session so you aren’t rushed. Give yourself enough time during the engagement session to relax in front of the camera, change outfits if necessary, and move locations if planned. At the same time you don’t want to have a 4 hour session and get drained and frown faced. I would recommend an hour to two max for your shoot to keep it short and sweet yet enough time to enjoy not rush.
For the wedding, cushion the photographer’s time frame for flexibility, it is always best to share your timeline with your photographer to assure you have allocated enough time and that they are prepared to capture all that is happening in time. Traffic might be a nightmare. Makeup and hair might take longer than anticipated. You might decide that you want send-off photos, and you don’t want that happening after the photographer has already departed, so communication with your photographer is key!
4. Build your excitement by making plans. Look at examples and ideas online, checkout your photographer's website for inspiration. Plan your vision with your fiancee and photographer beforehand, so you aren’t “winging it” on the session or wedding day. Practice in front of a mirror or with your cell phone camera to find out what angles and expressions are flattering. For even more fun, make it a group activity and get your wedding party involved.
5. Pick a location that has meaning to you. The photographer is usually the location scout, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved. Pick a location that you’re familiar with so it’s easier to interact with the environment. For added comfort, visit ahead of time and practice posing in different spots.
Getting engaged is one of the most exciting times of your life! Don’t just pick a “pretty place” make sure it has a significance, that it means something to you. Where did you two go on your first date? Do you have a spot where you love to hang? The more comfortable you are with the location, the less tense you’ll be on camera.
6. Look your best, feel your best! Pamper yourself, get your manicure pedicure done, get your makeup and hair done, or have one of your bridesmaids or friends pamper you! Wear an outfit that makes you feel like a comfortable and gorgeous. If you feel good, it won’t be hard to let loose and allow your personality to shine. If you are normally a dress with flats kind of girl, don’t try to wear heels for the session, be yourself!
7. Leave the worry behind. If you overthink how you look, that will come across in the photos., Clear your mind and go with the flow of the session. The photographer will worry about whether or not anything needs to be adjusted so don’t take on the extra stress. They’re the expert, let them make you look your best, you just enjoy this moment.
8. Don’t know how to pose? Then don't! There are no rules so position yourselves in a way that feels natural. If the camera makes you nervous, don’t feel obligated to stare into it keep it natural. Take in the sights around you or, more importantly, look at your fiancé/significant other if you get nervous. Let your photographer guide you on how to stand, where to look. If you don’t know what to do with your hands, use your surroundings (railing, tree, wall, etc.), hold a prop (balloons, flower bouquet, sign, etc.), or hold on to your fiancé/spouse.
9. Make it a Date. During your couple or engagement session, remember who you are with. Pretend it’s a date and act as you normally would. How about a picnic in the park with champagne, enjoy a toast and get awesome photographs too! Like going to the movies? Shoot at or around the theater and after your session go enjoy a fun date night movie! Engagement photos are all about your relationship with each other, and you as a couple, so don’t be shy about showing affection.
10. Have a Drink!. Have a drink before the shoot! A glass or two of wine or your favorite cocktail can work wonders in calming your nerves and making this experience more of a fun evening out then a task! The key is to stick to one or two, don't over do it! You don't want to be drunk and sloppy. If you are shooting your session at a location that allows you to bring your own drinks, bring a bottle of bubbly with you and incorporate it in the shoot!
Remember that this is a time of celebration. Family and friends are anxiously awaiting photos showcasing the bride and groom. There are many other details to think about so don’t let the camera get to you. Take advantage of the time with your fiancé/spouse and have fun!