Wedding Diaries: The One with the Engagement Session Nerves

March 4, 2015

A few weeks after we got engaged, Sam asked “So when should we take our engagement photos?” I knew the answer was soon and he probably found it strange that I hadn’t brought it up yet. The truth is, I was nervous. As much as I wanted photos of us during this exciting stage of our lives, I started to feel incredibly vulnerable.

I’m a wedding photographer for a reason. I LOVE being behind my camera and even as a kid I never dreamt of being in front of it (no aspiring actress or model here!). Sure I’ll willing participate in a selfie or two and my Facebook profile pictures have that classic “Jessica face” with a big open-mouthed smile. When it came to taking engagement photos, though, I was nervous that every flaw would be highlighted and I have been pushing back my first time in front of a professional camera because of that. On the surface I am a pretty confident person. I will sing at the top of my lungs, have full conversations with stranger’s dogs, and do cartwheels on the front lawn. But my entire life I have nitpicked the things I dislike about myself, from my weight to my crooked smile. I so desperately wanted beautiful engagement photos… but how could that possibly happen when I felt so far from beautiful myself?

The first step was to get over it. I know that sounds silly and simple, but it’s true. I needed to embrace who I am at this point in my life instead of thinking that exercising and a perfect diet would magically improve my self-esteem. The second step was trusting my photographer and her skill, and to give her to best canvas and attitude I could muster up. One thing I tell my clients is that if you feel beautiful, you “shoot” beautiful. This means you should wear whatever makes you feel confident and deserving of a two-syllable “daaaaaayymn.”  I decided to buy a dress specially for our session (shout out to Morning Lavender!) and to have my hair done (thanks Marcy!) It made 110% of a difference in how I felt that day.  Note: also having an adoring fiancé that will remind you of how beautiful you are one million times doesn’t hurt.

There is an expectation from the start that engagement sessions are supposed to be romantic. You’re newly engaged, thrilled to be getting married, and somehow that has to come across in photos?! That just isn’t us. Even in high school we kept the PDA to a minimum and hardly ever post kissy Instagram photos. But just this once it is okay to let your guard down and pretend to be the most romantic couple in the world… (Okay I’ll admit Sam rocked it but I still wasn’t good at this. I was giggling like a maniac most of the session! But I tried!!)

Now I’m excited to FINALLY share some of our photos by my dear friend Andrea.  I want to post only a few for now… but Sam and I are so thrilled with how they came out! We took a few at our home with our insane dogs, and then headed to the spot where Sam proposed.

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As a photographer I have the mental list for preparing for an engagement session. The “secrets,” if you will, of ensuring it is successful. Good posing, good outfits, great lighting, etc. As a bride, it is so different! Here are my suggestions for how to prepare & make the most out of the experience:

  1. Take your engagement photos as soon as possible, no later than 6 months before your wedding. That way you can take advantage of having a different season than your wedding photos and plenty of time to print them for save-the-dates.
  2. Get your hair and/ or makeup done that day! Its a celebration so you should treat it as such! Some ideas: schedule your wedding day trial with your MUA on the same day, schedule a color touch-up that day, OR go some place like DryBar for a cheap & fun option.
  3. Get a manicure and pedicure. Its a bit of a splurge but worth it. And if you’re a cheap like me, Groupon always has deals for salons.
  4. Do a trail run by trying on outfits with your fiancé beforehand. They should compliment each other without being too match-y and fit you well. Try to dress for the scenery AND it can be beneficial to keep your wedding colors in mind since these photos will be the first page of your wedding story.
  5. This one is the most important: PLAN A DATE NIGHT. You’re dressed up, feeling all lovely dovey, and probably starving from all that workin’ it, why not make a night out of it?!? (We went to Terrenea Resort and were even treated to complimentary champagne by the amazing staff!)

Questions? Post in the comments! <3


i loved this post. It was and is very inspiring. As a photographer myself I too dislike being in front of the camera & find myself being very self conscious.