Should You Have an Engagement Shoot? (This Blogger Says Yes!)

Anna Maltby engagement photo

Photos: Oh Darling! Photography

What do real brides have to say about the wedding planning experience? Well, it's not all happy tears at the bridal boutique and indulgent cake tastings. Over the next three weeks, guest blogger Anna Maltby will share the ins and outs of narrowing down your bridal style, snagging your dream wedding location, taking the perfect engagement photo, and more.

One thing I was certain of when I first dove into wedding planning: I had to have a great photographer. I simply wasn't willing to skimp—in fact, when I asked recently-wed friends what they wish they'd known when planning their own weddings, the most common answer was, "I wish I'd known how important the photographer was!"

So when I found—and managed to book (score!)—the wonderful Dustin and Whitney Deal of Oh, Darling! Photography, I couldn't have been more thrilled. These guys rock! But I was on the fence about the engagement shoot. I wasn't sure how excited I felt about frolicking around, hamming it up for the camera, trying to be all cute. It just didn't seem natural. (Ask my PDA-enthusiast fiancé, Akshay—I am so not a public smoocher.)

We went for it anyway, and I'm really glad we did—but not because of the photos themselves. Don't get me wrong, Dustin and Whitney did an incredible job and managed to make us look happy and relatively adorable (if I do say so myself) despite the unseasonably freezing October temperature, but my reasons for advocating engagement photos are as follows:

1. You get to know your photographer. It's so important! We hired Dustin and Whitney via Skype, and if we hadn't met up for the engagement shoot, chances are we probably wouldn't have met them until the big day. Do you really want strangers following you around all day, and on your wedding day at that? Take my advice: Invite them over, go out for a beer (yes, even a midday beer), and get comfy with each other. It's important for you to feel at ease with them and it's important for them to get a sense of who you are as a couple.

Anna Maltby engagement photo

Photo: Oh Darling! Photography

2. You learn how to pose for a photo—and how not to pose. Truth time: I didn't love a lot of the photos that came out of our engagement shoot—and it was our fault entirely, not our photographers'. Akshay and I made an effort to be natural, joking and laughing and generally acting like fools (hey, it's what we do!). Maybe I'm being a little hard on myself here, but I simply do not look my best when I'm cracking up. What I think I look like: Julia Roberts laughing as she gets her fingers snapped by the necklace box in Pretty Woman. What I really look like: Gollum from Lord of the Rings. The important thing I learned: Posing is OK.

3. You recognize things that you need to work on. Embarrassingly enough for us, that's kissing and hugging! Seriously, the most awkward thing I've ever seen is this picture of us doing a weird side hug.

Anna Maltby engagement photo

Photo: Oh Darling! Photography

I kid you not when I say we're going to practice this. I'm pretty sure awkwardness is not supposed to be part of the equation when the "you may now kiss the bride" moment rolls around.

4. You end up with a really lovely memento of this stage in your life. Obviously the foremost thing on your mind right now is your wedding day, but your engagement photos give you a chance to capture who you are right now. You're young, you're in love, you're better looking than you will be at any point in the future (sad, but true!), and having professional photos taken now—especially if they're taken in your element—will be a precious keepsake. Look at me, I'm getting all poetic. But seriously, how awesome is it that Akshay and I have these photos of us goofing around, having an absolute blast at our favorite neighborhood spots? Worth it.

See Brides editors' favorite wedding moments.

—Anna Maltby

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