Broke-Ass Tag: engagement shoot


Real Bride Elissa Don't Skip Out on Engagement Photos, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About My Hair

When we first got engaged, my parents asked my fiancé and I what our “must haves” were for our wedding. His criteria included good food, great wine and an outdoor ceremony. But, knowing those were givens, my priorities were (in no particular order):

  1. All of the twinkle lights
  2. Gorgeous, ethereal photographs that left everyone in awe for years to come

With the knowledge that I could buy twinkle lights in all shapes and sizes for a few bucks a box when the holidays rolled around, I was confident that dream was within reach. But the other … I wasn’t so sure. I heard time and time again how much of a blur your wedding day is, so I knew that photography is pretty essential to the whole thing. Plus, you know, the Wedding Industrial Complex handbook that requires you to be the Most Beautiful You Will Ever Look in Your Life on your wedding day, the only proof of which must be a soft-focus backlit portrait in a field.

I can definitely call BS on most WIC requirements, but I couldn’t let go of this one. I decided that I wanted to allot a decent percentage of my budget to really great photography, but once I started researching packages, I decided right off the bat that I would try and negotiate any included engagement photos out of the price. They seemed superfluous; I felt that “e-sessions” are products of WIC, and thought of them like extended warranties that they try to sell you at Best Buy. As much as I vainly loved the idea of more softly-lit photos of myself in a field, I felt good about this solution for a number of practical reasons. First, I had found a way to get what I wanted within my budget. Second, my friends who hadn’t done engagement photos had engagements that continued on normally and happily with no regrets. Third, I always make the same stupid face in photos, so the less time I needed to be front of the camera, the better. I also assumed that because I will be The Most Beautiful I Will Ever Look in My Life on my wedding day that I’d have no problem posing like a pro with my beloved.

When we finally found our awesome photographer, he strongly encouraged that we still do an engagement session, generously offering to work with us on price. He reasoned that it’s important for us to get to know each other so the wedding day flows smoothly, and for us to get comfortable with the idea of cameras in our faces for a few hours. We agreed and I spent the next few weeks trying to figure out what outfits were both a perfect blend of casual and fancy, complemented my skin tone and were field-at-sunset-appropriate. (Pro tip: lighter colors against your face, offset by a darker jacket or bold accessory.) And I am now SO GLAD we listened to the photographer and scheduled that session, but not for the reason I expected.

Even if you have to walk around a park for a few hours with your friend who takes really good Instagram photos, DO IT. Seriously. Turns out that even though I had done my makeup up just right, I was still waaaay out of my comfort zone. Get used to PDA, if you’re not a PDA person. Chances are the poses you do with your friends on the weekend are not the same ones you want in your wedding photos, so this is a great time to practice! Find out what angles look good on camera, and the ways in which you really don’t want your upper arm to be memorialized for all time. This is NOT the big day, these are NOT the photos everyone will ask to see, so use the session as a time to learn how to look natural, but on purpose.

And an added bonus? It’s a great time to reconnect with your partner. Wedding planning is stressful, and there may have been times over the last few months that you’ve fought over some stupid detail. But going to a fun and/or beautiful location, looking into your partner’s eyes as they pull you close, and collapsing into laughter at how ridiculous it feels to hold a half-kiss for over two minutes turns out to be a great way to remember why you’re getting married.

A few days after the session we got a teaser shot back. My first instinct was to look straight at the hair I’d worked so hard to style – it was windblown and my curls were kinked, and for a minute I dreaded seeing the rest of the photos. But the longer I looked at it, the more I saw the real Most Beautiful thing. No one else was looking at my hair, they were looking at the love that radiated out of the shot. I want my wedding photos to capture feeling, softly back-lit, perfectly coiffed or not. In the end, not only were my engagement photos great practice for the Big Day, they helped me learn how to get over myself. I realize now that weddings aren’t about celebrating how you look — they’re about celebrating how you love.

Photo credit: A Sight of Love Photography

Did you take engagement photos? Do you think they helped prepare you for your wedding day, in terms of feeling more relaxed in front of the camera or reconnecting with your person? Tell us in the comments!

Elissa Stooker
  • 8/20

    Here’s what I have to say about our engagement photo shoot. It was hotttttt.

    Unfortunately, I don’t mean that we looked hot (even though we totally did). I mean that when you live in Atlanta, Ga., and you battle schedules and wind up with a shoot at 5 p.m .in the beginning of August … well … you best be prepared to sweat. And sweat we did.

    Real Bride Peach The Engagement Shoot Recap

    Beforehand, Jersey and I looked all lovely and put together and even joked around in the living room while we awaited our photographer’s arrival. I had treated myself to a DryBar blowout earlier that day and I told my stylist (direct quote): “Spray the S*** out of it with the strongest thing you have.” So I calmly head home, hair perfectly coiffed, and spent a good amount of time on my makeup. Primer, tinted moisturizer, shadow, liner, mascara, blush and, what the hell, … even tried some false lashes, but that went over like a fart in the wind. So I nixed those bad boys, put on my gorgeous frock from Nordstrom and considered myself good to go! I felt pretty, but also I tried not to think about how oppressively humid it felt outside.

    Our photographer arrived and we got started. Y’all … within 15 minutes, my face was beaded with sweat. It was beyond description, the level of humidity. Not to mention, at least 90 degrees. By the time we finished 5 minutes of a few posed shots, our photographer’s shirt was soaked through. We took a few more near some flower pots, sitting on the ground. And I promptly received four mosquito bites for my efforts. And my makeup was now running down my face in rivers.

    We moved over to an abandoned house, but not before I paused to take a handkerchief and wipe alllll of that moisturizer, primer, tint and powder off. Then I took a clip and swooped my long hair up off my neck into a semi-updo. Because, yep. I’d reached the point of giving up. And all we could do was laugh. Because, Hello: Georgia. August. All we needed now was the accompanying thunderstorm.

    But our photographer assured me his shots so far looked great, but he could touch me up if it was very bad. We kept on and headed to the beltline, where we walked and shot, walked and sweat, walked and shot/sweat some more.  We must not have looked too bad, because we got a bunch of congratulations shouted at us, along with a “gorgeous couple!”  But by the time we arrived home to change for round two, all three of us were sweaty, smelly messes.

    Luckily, the second half of our engagement shoot was indoors, so we took some time to change, cool off, maybe have a beer and get to know our photographer a little better. The rest of our shoot went fabulously, thank goodness. We only got a peek at one or two shots and were so tickled! Oh, and wouldn’t you know it? Within 30 minutes of being inside, the heavens opened and the bottom fell out. We got so lucky that it held off for us!!  The shoot continued on, with our laughter mixing with the thunder and the camera flash dancing with the lightning.

    It just goes to show that no matter how well you plan, something is always going to turn on its head. Perhaps this was a good test for me, to see how I’ll handle curveballs on the big day. If so, I think I’ll be just fine. Because it’s way better to laugh about it than be upset. I have utter confidence in our photographer and in our goofy personalities that we’ll have some amazing shots to show for it, despite the heat and humidity.

    ‘Til next time,

  • 8/4

    In just over one week, Jersey and I will be cheesing it up in front of our photographer for our engagement shoot. No need to remind us that it's only been ... oh, NINE months since we got engaged and we are just now getting this done. Trust me, we know. Our schedules have been impossible to coordinate, but at this point I'll be happy if…

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    You guys, I think it's time for a sweet 'n' savvy e-sesh. Don't you? Kristal and Justin returned to a spot that was uber special to them -  with photographers and a videographer in tow - to snuggle, frolic and dance in the rain. Our engagement session was inspired by a couple of things: One, being our first mini getaway; two, our love of nature;…

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    Day-um you guys! I swear, these posts keep getting more and more delicious. This week, we have Jennifer and Daniel (aka: Dannifer) and their gooorgeous engagement shoot. They hired a photog who wasn't available for their wedding date and DID IT UP, yo. Since they didn't really plan on posing for wedding pics, they went all out for this rockin' e-sesh. Get out your fans,…

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    What happens when you mix two colorful actors with personalities as big as their hearts, and a photographer with style unique enough to fit?  You get these kick ass pictures, people. We're talking unique, delightful,  drool inducing photos... saturated with color, charm, and creative spirit... and shot by one of our faves, Kelty at Steep Street. I speak from experience when I say that Kelty…

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    Honestly, I've never wished that I lived in Texas. But if it meant being half as cool as Jamie & Joe, or getting to do a shoot with a photog like Jason Speros, I'd remember the alamo forever, yo. *cut to me, trying on cowboy hats* (via Austin Wedding Blog)

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    Back in March, I won a free engagement session contest for Best Proposal from Kelly Lynn Photography.... which I found out about on the Weddingbee boards! Kelly was great at making us feel cute and comfortable, and we had a great time shooting with her. But honestly, doing an engagement shoot is just so fun! You get all dressed up.... special make-up**, hot outfits, and…

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