How to Plan a Meaningful Engagement Session

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How to make the most of your engagement session

Although engagement sessions are popular, there tends to be something missing about them. In this post, I discuss the meaning of engagement sessions and how couples can make them about so much more than just a photo shoot.

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Reasons your engagement session is so special

Engagements are truly once-in-a-lifetime

While weddings are often thought of as the once-in-a-life-time event, the true winner of this title should actually be the engagement! Engagements are often overlooked, but there really is something so magical about them. It’s such a brief period in your relationship and lives where you’re actively planning your forever promise to one another. You can always renew your vows, but never again will you celebrate this milestone.

Engagements hold a deeper meaning

Although engagements are truly once-in-a-lifetime milestones, all the focus tends to stay with the actual wedding. Not many people consider the idea that they just promised each other their lives. Engagements hold a deeper meaning then just a time to plan a wedding; an engagement is a time where you are so excited about each other, and that in itself is a milestone to celebrate.

Engagements should be celebrated

Many couples think their engagement session is just an extension of their wedding planning. They spend hundreds, or in some case thousands, of dollars on photos they circulate a few times on social media before getting lost in cyberspace.

These couples are left remembering their engagement session only as a checked box for their wedding planning. When they look at their photos, they’re left thinking “we got these photos taken for a save the date.”

The problem with this is that there is a missed opportunity to celebrate your engagement, then document that celebration. You hire a photographer to capture your marriage celebration, why not your engagement celebration?

How to make your engagement session special

Take time off work

Your engagement photos don’t have to be taken before or after a long day at work. Honestly, when couples do this, they usually end up feeling rushed or forced. Plus, more often than not, at least one person ends up feeling tired or just isn’t that into it.

Rather than squeezing it into your schedule, make a day out of your engagement session! You’ll feel so much better knowing the entire day is yours, and you’ll have the time to plan something really incredible and different. By making a day of it, you won’t feel so bad about getting your hair or makeup done, traveling to a further location, or spending a little extra time with your photographer.

Spoil yourselves with the gift of time, you deserve it.

Plan your engagement session around an experience

By planning your engagement session around an experience, you’re investing your time and money into a memory, not into photos.

Choose something to do that you both love, like a spa or camping weekend. You could find a really interesting hotel or Airbnb to stay at, or a place with hiking trails to explore for a weekend. If you’re into trying new things, you could explore a new brewery or test your adrenaline with an adventurous activity. Discover something new together and enjoy this day as though a photographer wasn’t there.

Choose a good location

Don’t just choose a park, a field, or patch of flowers. Instead, make your engagement session special by choosing a location that offers meaning and purpose.

  • Go somewhere that excites you. Hike a favorite path, explore a new waterfall, or travel to a distant place you’re never been before. Book some plane tickets to somewhere incredible and plan a trip to celebrate your engagement.
  • Prefer to stay at home? You could spend your evening ordering in pizza and building a pillow fort in your living room, or a morning sipping on coffee and cooking pancakes.
  • Re-enact a favorite date or experience. If you and your partner have a favorite date or activity, bringing along your photographer can ensure it’s meaning will be forever preserved.
  • Wherever you choose, make sure it means something to you. Whenever you look at your photos, you should be taken right back to that moment, that place. If the location you’ve chosen doesn’t mean anything to you, the memories attached to your photos won’t be as strong. Even photos at the most beautiful location in the world could fall flat because that location doesn’t hold any weight in your heart. Your photos will mean so much more if they were taken somewhere you care about.

Remember why you hired a photographer in the first place

What does photography mean to you? To answer this question, think about the reason you are hiring a photographer in the first place, or why anyone ever hires a photographer at all for that matter.

It’s true when they say a photo is worth a thousand words. But more than words, photos can be worth a thousand feelings. Remember the reason you want these photos at all and the emotions they will embody.

If all you do is spend a couple hundred dollars for photos to post on Instagram or Facebook, then that’s all you’re going to leave your engagement session with. However, if you spend a little more money and time, you’ve now invested in a memory that you can cherish for the rest of your lives.

What engagement sessions look like with me as your photographer

Rather than making an engagement session all about the perfect photo opportunity, I prefer to work with my couples to plan an experience worth photographing.

To achieve this, I like to set up a phone call with my couples before they even book. During this call, we will get to know each other better and discuss their vision for the perfect celebration. We’ll talk about their favorite memories together, places they both dream of visiting, and how they wish to remember their engagement once it becomes only a memory. Together, we plan an experience that allows the two of them to connect and celebrate.

With me, engagement sessions aren’t just 45-minutes or an hour posing in front of my camera. Instead, my sessions start at around 2 hours of coverage, and sometimes last much longer. The idea is to create an opportunity to plan something meaningful and memorable, then I capture things as they naturally unfold.

My biggest piece of advice for my couples planning their engagement session

Craft an opportunity to celebrate your engagement, then worry about inviting your photographer to join.

By approaching your engagement session with experience and connection at the forefront, your photos will hold so much more value than if you only did them for social media. For the most meaningful engagement session, the photos should be an after thought or the cherry on top.

When you later look at your photos, you won’t think “yeah, we did these to post on social media and show everyone we’re engaged.

Instead, you’ll think, “we did this for us and to celebrate this milestone.” Doesn’t this sound so much better?

Make the most of your engagement session: spend more money, spend more time, plan an experience, and make it worth a photographer being there. Plan something meaningful enough to be documented.

Feeling ready to start a converation?

Let’s kick things off: Complete the following form below and you should hear back from me within the next two days. And if not, you can follow up with an email to alyssavanzophotography@gmail.com. I can’t wait to meet you!