Weekends are for Weddings: Engagement Photos

Weekends are for weddings!  If you’re like me, with 9 weddings each year, the weekends are, quite literally, for weddings (attending them, that is).  Also if you’re like me, the weekend is a time to think about planning your own wedding.  Lots of people carve out a certain time each week for  to wedding planning (Wedding Wednesday seems to be very popular).  It ensures the wedding doesn’t take over their whole lives; however, I find that confining wedding planning to a specific time is too pressure-filled and bicker-prone.   I plan my wedding when inspiration strikes.  Weekends, in particular, offer the time to let my mind roam and plan my own wedding in a stress-free environment.  In this series, I’ll take you through some of my major planning steps – hopefully this will help you plan your own wedding!

Engagement photos may seem silly, but it’s something I really wanted to do.  My beau and I don’t have many pictures of us so I wanted some snaps to hang around the apartment that capture this very happy moment in our lives.  They also serve a practical purpose because they can be used on save the dates and wedding website.

Most photographers offer an engagement shoot as part of their package.  Since our wedding photographer is based out of Savannah and we live in NYC, that didn’t make as much sense for us.  HOT TIP: Instead, we negotiated for the wedding photographer to reapply the time allotted for the engagement shoot for coverage at the rehearsal dinner.  In the South, the rehearsal dinner is where all the speeches go down, so we really wanted to capture that anyway.  Also, we didn’t really want to take our engagement pics in the same city as the wedding photos – we liked having the juxtaposition of backgrounds (urban NYC for engagement, graceful Lowcountry for wedding) and also liked the idea of taking pictures in New York, the city we have made our home.

One of my friends, Emily, is an amateur photographer who does fabulous work and cut us an amazing deal.  She was also willing to give us a much longer shoot than any photographer.

Albert and I thought it was really important to take the pictures at sites that have meaning for us, looking more or less like we normally do:

Location #1 was our roof, since we spend so much time up there when the weather is nice.  Emily had a great idea for us to have mimosas – props are always a good idea; otherwise, all the pictures look the same.  We got some great shots with the Empire State Building in the background.  On our way to our second location, we took some pictures through the window of the cab.  It’s such a New York thing and we were using that mode of transportation anyway, might as well make it work for us!

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Disclaimer: photo taken by Albert, not our photographer, just before our first pic of the day

Location #2 was The Strand.  We took some outside, looking at the bargain books, and others in the stacks.  I loved that it’s a less than common location for engagement pictures.  It’s also nice because it’s meaningful – Albert is always dragging me out of bookstores.

Location #3 was Veselka, a favorite restaurant and the place we introduced our parents to each other.  It was also important to stop here because my blood sugar dropped, and I was ready to call it quits.  The pictures didn’t turn out great (I blame the cardigan I was wearing), but it gave us the chance to refuel and change clothes for the second half of the day.

Location #4 was a graffiti wall in the East Village.  It would have been perfect because it was all hearts.  Unfortunately, they painted over it the night before.  While we were there, the artist showed up to start his new piece, but we weren’t going to wait two hours for him to finish.  On to the next!

Location #5 was Central Park.  We started at the Sailboat Pond.  We were going to rent sailboats and wear captains hats, but there were so many people around it was too stressful.  Albert was wearing down at this point.  Instead we just took some pictures with the boats in the background.  We then walked a few feet away to the Alice In Wonderland Statue.  In the time it took us to figure out where we would shoot, it was mauled by kids so we scrapped that and took pictures on a tree in bloom and a random bench.

Location #6 was the subway.  We thought about taking some pictures in the subway car itself, hanging off of poles, etc.  They were too packed so instead we took a bunch on the platform before using the subway for it’s intended reason: transportation.  After 6 hours and nearly 600 pictures, the shots we captured on the platform as the train zoomed behind us were my favorites from the whole day.

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Our brilliant photographer!

Biggest Takeaway: BE FLEXIBLE!

  • While we planned to be silly in our pictures, we realized we didn’t have any non-goofy pictures of us.  We didn’t have anything our parents could keep framed on their desks, for example.  We needed the typical engagement photo poses.  Also, we recently decided to use these photos as part of the decor for the cocktail reception after our rehearsal dinner, which meant there needed to be more kissy face than goofy.
  • Some of our location ideas turned out to be busts.  We had to scrap the graffiti wall, and Allison In Wonderland was a no-go.  But it’s ok because the spots we replaced them with (the tree/bench in the park and the subway) ended up giving us our best shots of the day.
  • Be open to using an amateur photographer.  They will be less expensive and likely more willing to accommodate you than professionals because they’re trying to build their portfolio.  It’s a win/win.  I don’t know any couple who had more than 2 hours for their engagement photos, but we had 6.  It was exhausting, but it meant we squeezed in tons of special locations.  Just check their Instagram – if you think they have a good eye there, they’ll probably take good engagement photos, too.
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A pre-edited sneak peak!