I used to wonder why people do engagement photo shoots. What are they… for? Do you not have enough pictures of the two of you together from your relationship, so you feel like you need to reach some sort of quota? Do you think that all the other photos of you that you’ve accumulated over the years look too natural? Too un-staged? Too comfortable? You suddenly realized you forgot to do a prom pose under a gentle cascade of cherry blossoms – and once you’re married it will simply be too late?
Then my friend Jessica, who was one of the most sane and elegant brides I know, told me that her wedding photographer made them do an engagement shoot. As in, it was included as a non-negotiable part of the bridal package — and if they didn’t do it, they’d essentially be wasting a paid-for hours of work. So Jessica and her husband Ben spent an afternoon jumping around in fields of wildflowers, and chose the funniest products of the shoot to use as images on their Save The Date. It was tongue-in-cheek, and cute.
So I no longer judge people’s engagement photo shoots. Who knows why anyone does them? Maybe your parents insisted upon it, because Aunt Judith didn’t actually believe your “long distance boyfriend” was real and Mom was tired of hearing about it during lunch bunch. Or maybe you want to show off your hot future wife to all the kids from high school who only remember you as the fat kid from English class who farted while reciting “The Road Less Traveled.” Or maybe, one of you has a withering disease that will one day rob you of the ability to laugh, and you want to document as many giant, hearty chortles on camera as possible while you still can.
Anyway, for whatever reason you do it, there are enough of them out there that I can confidently categorize all of the most clichéd kinds of pre-wedding portraits. Below, a complete taxonomy of engagement photo poses.
The “Careless Whisper”
The “Two People Doing Different Things In A Field”
The “Kiss in an Awkward Place”
The “We’re About To Kiss Even Though We Just Had Taco Bell”
The “Potentially Life-Threatening Pose”
The “Someone Is On a Swing. Not Swinging.”
The “Someone Is Holding Balloons”
The “Dog Farted”
The “Are You Sure It’s Not Too Windy?”
The “Back Injury Waiting to Happen”
The “Marriage Is A Prison. Wait, What?”
The “Somebody’s Getting Carried”
The “Haunted Backdrop”
The “Someone Is In The Background, Out Of Focus
The “Standing At A Distance Against Exposed Brick”
The “Standing Near Rusticated Wood”
The “We Have An Umbrella Even Though It Is Not Raining”
The “We Aren’t Laughing The Same Amount, I’m Worried This Marriage Won’t Work”
The “Ruining Formal Wear”
The “Taking It Too Far”
The “Holding Hands At An Awkward Distance”
The “Laughing In Front Of Graffiti”
The “Cry For Help”
The “Are We Dead Now?”
The “Prom Pose Or Pregnant?”
The “Dancing In A Field Like Crazy People”
The “We Are Lost In The Wilderness And We Will Likely Die Here”
The “One Pigeon”
The “Multiple Pigeons”