If you are recently engaged, congratulations! Wedding planning is a ton of fun. I love it, (clearly) and cherish every wedding I get to be apart of. One of the really fun parts about getting engaged is having what I call the Glam Squad. Typically, this is the one (major) time in your life when you get to have professionals working with you for basically everything. I like to think of a bride as a mini celebrity leading up to her wedding. Think about it: hairstylists, manicurists, makeup artists, personal trainers, dentists (gotta have those pearly whites) stylists and estheticians all working to transform you into the best version of yourself. Don’t get me wrong, you on a drizzly Tuesday is fantastic too, but when you are all dolled up...you carry yourself differently. Trust me, my hubby says he prefers me in a hoodie and sweatpants, but he certainly doesn't complain when I come home with professional hair and makeup and a killer dress. (Maybe he *would* complain if he knew the price tag, but I digress). ;-)
Why am I rambling on and on about being a mini celebrity? Two words, Engagement Photos. Engagement photos allow A. a bride to get a test run with her hair and makeup artist B. a test run with the photographer C. one on one quality time with your sweetie and D. great looking, professional images for your save the dates.
TEST RUN HAIR AND MAKEUP
In my opinion, it is important to meet with your professional hair and makeup artist prior to your wedding. Most, if not all, HUMA provide a trial as part of your wedding day package. Some might have this service built in to the over all price, some might charge a little more for the trial. While some brides get frustrated with having to pay additional for a trial, that makeup artist is using product on you that he/she can never get back. It is not like they can scrape off the foundation and re bottle it for the next bride. Even places like Sephora require a minimum purchase for makeovers. In most cases, you will do a trial with the same person who will actually be doing your hair and makeup on the wedding day. Sometimes, this is not the case. Ask about company policy when it comes to scheduling your HMUA. That person will get to know the texture of your hair, the quality of your skin and can make recommendations based on what they see. They can chat with you about your style, how much makeup you normally wear, etc. Because these are just the engagement photos, you could do a similar style of hair and makeup or even a more natural look to get the feel/style of the artist. Leave the big transformation for the actual wedding day.
When I got my hair and makeup trial, I went after work and when it was done, I went home, showered and went to bed. I knew this going in, but I desperately wanted to work with this particular Chicago based company. If they told me to show up at 5:00 AM on a Sunday to do my trial, I would have. When you find your dream team, you listen to them. Typically, trying to schedule your engagement photos on a Saturday and expecting your HMUA free on a Saturday is a slim shot. However, if you are flexible on days/times for your engagement photos (read more about that below) then perhaps the scheduling gods will work in your favor! If not, then you could see if an associate HMUA could do your trial/engagement makeup and perhaps relay information to the person doing your makeup on the wedding day. Early communication and scheduling is key and all HMUA companies run differently. Make sure you ask these questions in advance and never assume.
TIME TO BOND WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
If you are planning your engagement photography, it is most often because, you have hired a photographer and this session is included in your wedding package. “Engagement Sessions” can last anywhere from 1-2 hours and can include 1-3+ outfit changes with multiple locations. It sounds like a long time to be the center of attention, but trust me, that time flies by. If you have selected a boutique photographer (meaning they are the owner and main photographer) you were drawn to them as a person and for their photography style. Having this time to get to know each other and get all of the potentially awkwardness out of the way will make for a much smoother, less stressed and more enjoyable wedding day. Having a stranger “be all up in your business” literally touching you and positioning your face, arms and body and watching you get dressed can be quite intimidating. A good photographer will make you feel comfortable, probably make you laugh and work to put you and your fiance at ease. When the three of you spend time at an engagement session, you get to know more about each other and when they show up on the day of the wedding, it’s as if a friend is walking through the door, not a paid vendor. If you have opted to go with a “big box” photography company, meaning, you select from a portfolio of photographers and do not meet the person until either your engagement session or wedding day, ask if you will be guaranteed the same photographer for both days. If not, can you meet the photographer prior to the wedding to make sure you mesh well? Ask what happens if you do not like the person you have been assigned. Always ask, never assume.
QUALITY ONE ON ONE TIME WITH YOUR SWEETIE
You and your fiance have spent countless hours making tough decisions. Which vendors to hire, where to have the wedding, what your colors should be, on and on and on. By taking this time to get all dolled up and simply have fun with each other will come as a much needed respite. Do things on this “planned and highly photographed date” that speaks to you as a couple. Do you love to spend the weekend casually sipping on a perfectly brewed cup of coffee? Go to your favorite local coffee shop. Do you love spending time in the park playing fetch with your fur baby? Go do that! Do you simply adore biting into the cheesiest slice of pizza? Go to your local pizza parlor and order an extra large pie...you’ve got another person along on your date! Do something seasonal! If your photos are around the holidays, go to a Christmas tree farm and get cozy with each other while “shopping” for trees. Have a snowball fight and warm up with some hot cocoa! Don’t take engagement photos in a campground if you have never, in your life, went camping. Your friends and family simply won’t get it.
SAVE THE DATES
Once you have completed your engagement session, your photographer will tell you when and how to expect the images. You might get an online gallery, you might go to their studio and have a slideshow of your day together and then you pick your favorite images in person. Once you select the images, you can begin ordering save the dates. Shout your love from the rooftop and announce your wedding information with the photos from your engagement session!
THREE MORE PIECES OF ADVICE
Think of hiring a stylist to help you select the best outfits for your engagement photos. You want to find outfits that flatter your body type and coordinate. I have seen some very mismatched outfits and it can throw off the entire photo. A stylist can also help with selecting your bridal gown and all of the important events during your engagement (bachelorette party, bridal shower, engagement party, groom’s fashion, etc) Get your ring professionally cleaned prior to your engagement session. This will be your most photographed piece of jewelry and it needs to be looking its best! You want that bling to sparkle! Be flexible! If it starts raining on the day of your shoot, be flexible and either work with the change of plans (embrace it) or reschedule. Don't let a kink in the gears ruin what should be a special day.
Finally, smile and enjoy this fun experience with your fiance! It should be a stress-free, fun activity that you both will remember for a lifetime.