Maybe you're shopping around for wedding photographer. Maybe you've already signed a contract with your dream photographer. Maybe you haven't even started the process of looking.

Wherever you are in the wedding photographer process, there's probably one consistent thing you'll notice: most offers come with an engagement session. And whether you're super excited to step in front of the camera or not so sure engagement photos are your *thing*, there are a few important reasons why so many photographers offer this complimentary service to their clients—and why you should take advantage of it.

Get to know your photographer...

Couples spend a lot of time with their photographer on their wedding day. Like, a LOT. Depending on how you end up choosing to arrange your day, you might even end up spending more time your photographer than your future spouse! So making sure that you feel comfortable around them—with or without their camera—is a huge plus.

Engagement sessions are a really great way for you to get to know your wedding photographer a little more personally without any pressure of schedules or other people getting in the way of some good ol' quality time together. And that way when they walk through the door on your wedding day, you're not like, "Wait...who's that again??"

...and give your photographer a chance to get to know you.

This is a bit of a story, but the perfect example.

One of my best friends hired me to photographer her wedding; we have known each other for years and are super close, so she wasn't so sure that they really needed to take the time for engagement photos before their wedding. Like...she knows me. I know her. Things should be good to go, yeah?

Fast forward to a free evening where we decide to get together and snap a few pictures, just for fun. I show her the back of my camera and the first thing she says?

"UGH. I just HATE how my gums show when I smile!"

I felt like my soul was escaping from my body when she said that, because I had absolutely NO idea she felt like that about herself, even after being friends for years. To me and her fiancé, she had the biggest, most beautiful smile. But the way she saw herself was completely different. And had we not done those few photos together, I would have gone into her wedding day completely unaware that she felt that way, which would have, most likely, resulted in a LOT of photos of her smiling that way. So we compromised: I was sure to make sure she had plenty of photos where she was smiling softly and lovingly at her husband, but also snapped several photos where he is making her laugh because he absolutely adores her big smile.

While a photographer can't change your self perception, we can work with you to make sure that you feel comfortable and seen. Engagement photos are a great for your photographer to experiment and figure out things that work for you and your partner—whether that's being conscious of insecurities, communicating in a way that makes the most sense for you, or figuring out ways to make the experience more enjoyable (which ultimately lead to photos you'll love more).

Create memories where you're just being you.

Being a wedding photographer, it might be a hot take saying that wedding photos might not be the most important photos you'll ever take. But hear me out: wedding photos document a really special day of your lives, but they're not your everyday lives. The people you are and lives you live together are the foundation of everything that led you to "I do," so why not take the time to celebrate and document that?

Most couples (me and my partner included) hardly have any photos of us outside of a few vacation snapshots and maybe the occasional formal event that we happen to remember to snag a picture at. So engagement photos can be a really special opportunity to celebrate your togetherness in a way that is more every day, and therefore a little more unique to you.

Throw on your favorite jeans and sweatshirt that you wear for stay-in date nights. Hang out at the bar you go to every Thursday for trivia. Grab your dog and loop around the park you visit every single day on your afternoon walkies. Take a moment to appreciate and document the things that really make your relationship special and meaningful to you, no matter how small or silly it may seem to anyone else. Because those are the moments and memories you'll build your whole lives on, and there's nothing more special than that.

If you find yourself saying, "I really don't like getting my picture taken..."

People always seem ashamed to tell me that they don't enjoy getting their photo taken, but in reality the vast majority of people are in the same boat—myself included. And who can blame us? From an early age we're forced by our families, or schools, heck, even our peewee soccer teams to stiffly stand in one spot and force a smile for photos. Those experiences were awful, and unfortunately they're the foundation of how so many of us feel about getting our pictures taken. (I call this TGPS, or "Third Grade Photo Syndrome".)

One of the last things I want for my couples on their wedding day is my presence adding any amount of anxiety to their lives, so engagement photos kind of rip your photography band-aid off. They give you a chance to get in front of the camera and realize that, with the right approach and photographer for you, they're really not that bad after all.

And lastly, they're just freaking FUN.

It surprises people when I say this, but the number one compliment I get from folks has nothing to do with my pictures. So what is it?

"This was SO much more fun than I expected!"

Engagement photos are FUN, babyyyyyyy! We can do whatever the heck you want! Let's drink beers on the patio. SUP paddle board down the river. Hang in hammocks in the woods. Eat tacos curbside. Literally whatever you want, as long as it's fun for you and your partner (and legal, please).

Ready for your engagement photos?

Reach out to get yours on the schedule! I with couples to do engagement photos whether or not I work with you on your wedding day, but folks who book full-day wedding packages receive complimentary engagement session. (And all couples get access to my handy Engagement Guide to make planning locations, activities, and outfits even easier!)