Not if you don’t want to! That’s the really short answer but I get asked the question quite often so let me tell you why they can be a really good idea.
1. The pictures are great for save the dates, thank you cards, online profiles, Instagram you name it. If you have your engagement shoot in plenty of time there are any number of uses you can put those pictures too. How about a wedding website. There are some great templates out there for simple websites where you can send your guests for all the details. Include directions, gift registry details, accommodation recommendations and anything else you want your guests to know. Easily update it with extra details as you get closer to your day. Your engagement shoot would make this all look amazing.
2. Get to know your photographer. Your photographer will be there with you nearly all day and you will be seeing a lot of them. Make sure they are someone you get on with and feel comfortable being around. Some photographers work differently but its important to me that my clients are relaxed and natural in front of the camera. I work hard to make my couples feel comfortable but sometimes on a wedding day, there isn’t as much time as I would like to really get relaxed with it. This is where it really helps if we’ve had an engagement session beforehand. It means I already know how I can very quickly get the best from each person.
3. Make it personal and have some fun. This is an opportunity to get some pictures that really mean something to both of you. Love your cats? How about an in-home session with furry friends included. Love hiking? How about some pictures in your favourite wilderness. Whatever you like to do together will make a great photo session and it will be personal and meaningful to you.
4. Maybe you don’t mind having your photo taken. Personally, I find it really difficult to look straight into a camera lens without feeling self-conscious. An engagement shoot is an opportunity to practice and see how it feels so you don’t have to worry on your wedding day. Mostly my couples quickly realise how easy it is when they can react with each other rather than smiling for the camera. It’s also worth remembering that you will get to see these pictures and can point out to your photographer anything you do and don’t like.
5. You will never feel like this again. The absolute hands-down best reason for having an engagement shoot is that this time in your lives is unique and you won’t get it back. Those memories are worth capturing. Your marriage will be all kinds of wonderful but it is different from being engaged and there won’t be that exact same sense of excitement that there is now in the build-up to your wedding.
Having said all this they are not completely necessary and if you would rather spend your time and money elsewhere that’s completely up to you. The difference it will make to your wedding day is very small in the grand scheme of things. I always say to my couples you shouldn’t try to do and have everything possible for your wedding day. Concentrate on the stuff that really matters to you. If pictures are your thing then go all out and plan the engagement shoot of your dreams, it will be worth it.