Updated: Mar 29, 2021
TL;DR - A great way to get to know your photographer and getting used to PDA in front of a camera.
Congrats on your engagement! As a guy, I thought I was done. The moment my wife said yes, it ended months of planning, months of researching diamond cuts, clarity, and carats. Months of saving, months of keeping it a secret, and gently steering the conversation away from anything marriage without looking like I was avoiding the topic. Once I had the ring, I found my future father in a law at his favourite watering hole and asked for his blessing. While the proposal didn't go exactly to plan (long story), the ultimate goal was achieved. She said yes! And in 2021 we'll be celebrating 16 years married; 20 years together. But not an hour later, as we started to tell friends and family the big news, the questions started. When? Where? How many guests? "Whoa," I thought. "I just, like, just asked. I need to decompress for a month before we start planning the wedding." We opted for a destination wedding in Mexico. We hired a local photographer. We didn't do engagement photos.
Back then, I didn't know as much about this stuff as I do now. It would be about 19 months after that, that I even picked up a camera. Would I have done things differently? Maybe. But I didn't see the value of hiring a home-local photographer much less engagement photos. But engagement photos are a BIG DEAL. They do several things, in no particular order:
They are a great way for you to get to know your photographer and your photographer to get to know you beyond the hiring process.
It's a far more relaxed experience vs wedding day. Your wedding day will be comparatively chaotic. Suits and dresses can sometimes be limiting in the places you can take them and the things you can do in them, like sit. (Brides, make sure when you try your dress on, you try sitting in them first before making your final choice.)
The engagement session allows for a longer photo shoot and in potentially more comfortable clothing. For example, taking photos around water. There is also more time to set up creative lighting, etc.
Engagement photos also help kick start the wedding planning process. It's really happening!
The images from the session are often on display at the wedding. Either as a matted print for guests to sign the matte, or an album for guests to sign and peruse through a selection of images. You get the idea. But the photos that you get from the engagement session are great in their own right, and they might be the first professional photos of you as a couple. Selfies are great and all... but one day you will want to see that other arm. :~)
Finally, print your favourites. When I started in the wedding photography biz, putting images on long term storage DVD's was the norm. Try to find a computer with a CD/DVD player these days. USB drives are great but we have several standards - USB-A, USB-micro, USB-C, Thunderbolt, etc. Who knows what the standard will be in 10 years. Hard drives are great, but not a 'forever' solution. Albums, prints and such are timeless. No one in the future will wonder how to the view them with some long outdated technology.