Rachel Griffin, owner & lead wedding planner
Celebrating Your Engagement
Plan Along with Me Series – Step 4: Engagement Photos, Engagement Parties, Save-the-Dates, & Registering
You’ve done a great job getting your wedding plans off and running in the right direction, now it’s time to start celebrating your engagement! (If you’re just joining in, don't miss Steps 1, 2, & 3 too!)
I’m talking about Engagement Photo Sessions, Engagement Parties, Save-the-Dates, & Creating a Gift Registry. These are some of the FUN to-do items in wedding planning, so try to take in the moment together & celebrate!
Engagement Photo Sessions
A special photography session is the PERFECT way to capture your love for each other and a fantastic way to set some time aside for celebrating your engagement. I knew that I wanted to go straight to the experts for their advice here, so I reached out to some of my all-time favorite and trusted photographers for their best tips. BOY did they come through!!
Images by CWP Photography
From Christine with CWP Photography
I’d recommend having two outfits; a “fancy” one, and a more “casual” one, just for more variety of images within your gallery. Definitely opt for clothes you’re comfortable in because it WILL be obvious on camera! Don’t neglect things like: hair & makeup, nails, accessories, appropriate footwear. Clean your engagement ring! Toothbrush and Windex works like a charm.
A professional photographer will provide all the posing direction you need, so don’t fret if this is your first professional session; you should not be an expert in posing. An engagement session is truly a “practice run” of your wedding day, as it allows you experience in front of the camera with posing, your partner, & your photographer! You will likely have more time together at your engagement session than you will during your bridal portrait time, so it’s a great trial run!
From Ingrid with Molliner Photography
Engagement sessions are a great opportunity to get comfortable with your photographer and know what to expect as they are directing you. It’s also great for the couple to make sure the first time in front of a professional camera isn’t when emotions are flying on a wedding day. We offer complimentary engagement sessions to all our clients as an incentive to get to know them better, find their quirks and learn how to guide them into moments to reflect their personalities. There isn’t much room to learn that on a wedding day.
My best engagement session tip, besides getting hair and makeup done, is to treat it as part of a date. Be silly, cuddly, stroll around hand in hand and celebrate afterwards with brunch or a night out. It’s best to think of it as an experience with your fiancé’ so that the pressure falls off of performing.
From Amber with Amber Dorn Photography
My best tip is to give yourself extra time to get ready on the day, so you are not rushed and stressed. I highly recommend planning your engagement session on a day when you both have the full day off. Plan on going out to lunch together before getting ready. The more time you have to relax and connect, the better your genuine love will show in pictures. Give each other a pep talk on the way to the session and let your partner know how great they look to give them an extra shot of confidence!
Talk to your photographer ahead of time about any insecurities either of you may have so that they can come prepared to help make you feel your best in front of the camera. Allow yourselves to be vulnerable and your true selves. Spend more time looking into each other's eyes and less at the camera.
From Jamie with Sweet Serendipity Photography
I always suggest for couples to think of a location that mean something to you and you have a connection with, like a favorite or first date, or the place that you got engaged. Another tip is to try to plan your engagement session around your hair & makeup trial to see how it looks in photographs.
A great way to use photos from the session is for a guestbook or centerpieces. You could also use them as save-the-dates or with your thank you cards or invitations.
Big or small, family only or your whole wedding guest list, an engagement party can be a super fun way to relax and enjoy this special moment in your love story with the people who mean the most to you.
Whether you’re hosting it yourselves, or someone else is throwing it on your behalf, make sure the guest list only includes people that will be invited to the wedding as well. Parties can be planned for anytime during your engagement, but generally are usually around 8 months before the big day. A good tip too is to avoid scheduling it during your area’s peak wedding season. This avoids wedding burn out and rsvp conflicts within your friends & family group.
Themes and colors don’t have to line up at all with what you’re choosing for the wedding itself, so feel free to go outside the box and do something completely different! Have you heard of a Stock the Bar party? It’s a fun theme that encourages guests attending to bring an item for your wedding bar in lieu of engagement gifts. It helps you out with the cost of liquor for your wedding and guests know they’ll have something they love to drink at your reception too!
Save-the-dates are a really useful way to let the people you’re inviting know that your wedding is coming up. They’re especially important for those guests who’ll be traveling and need some extra time to start making their arrangements.
You’ll want to have them ready to send out 6 to 8 months before your wedding day. Also, be sure to only send them to people you’re definitely planning to invite to the wedding. (So for example, if you’ve got an A & B List for invites, only send them to the A group.)
Also, these should complement your wedding choices for color and theming. They’ll be guests’ first glimpse of your wedding details, so they should coordinate with what you’ll be putting together for the your day.
Images by Sweet Serendipity Photography
Creating a Gift Registry
Before you skip this step in wedding planning, let me give you a few reasons you’ll want a gift registry for your wedding EVEN IF you already are living together and have many of the things you’d typically see on a list.
There’s LOTS of parties people can use them for. From an engagement party, to showers and then the wedding itself, guests can use your registry to find a range of options they know you’ll like as gifts.
Use it for items that you wouldn’t normally buy for yourself or don’t have in the budget right now to purchase. Think about an awesome luggage set or luxurious bath towels. What about registering for a great camera to capture moments on the honeymoon?
Look at what you already have and see what items you could upgrade with a wedding registry. If you're making due with mismatched, college hand-me-downs, you may enjoy an upgraded set from your favorite home store that fits your new life stage and personalities together.
It doesn’t have to be from only one store, or even have home items on it at all! There are amazing sites like My Registry or Zola that allow you to make one list that includes items from tons of stores. You could also create honeymoon or experience registries that let guests contribute to, or gift you, excursions & experiences, rather than things.
Whatever kind of registry you choose to create, make sure there’s items in lots of different price ranges so guests have options they can pick from, wherever they’re comfortable spending.
Hooray! You’re getting married!
I hope these steps for celebrating your engagement give you some happy moments in your wedding planning adventure!
Next month, we’re completing our wedding vendor team. We’ll talk about choosing those remaining vendors like hair & makeup, cake, and your officiant.
Step 5: Completing Your Vendor Team
Until then, happy planning!