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Why portrait photographers recommend a bride and groom engagement or a pre-wedding photo session prior to their ceremony

The engagement session is a pretty well-known tradition in the USA. It usually takes place several months prior to your wedding, and it’s a great way to validate your photographer’s choice. The idea is quite similar to the post-wedding session and includes: you, a camera, a variety of locations and outfits, a good makeup, a good hair stylist and produce splendid portraits.
Clients with higher expectations might want to upgrade to a bride and groom’s pre-wedding photo session.

What’s the difference between those two kinds of photo session

The major differences are the kind and number of outfits you can choose, the time, the makeup, and the energy involved. For classical engagement sessions, couples would choose casual and formal clothes.
For the pre-wedding, the couple would prefer a long dress, like a glamorous evening gown and a white dress (usually a different wedding dress). It usually last longer (all the afternoon of the night), including a make-up artist and a hairstylist. You can also go to more locations. In other words, it’s closer to a real editorial photo shoot.

The Advantages

Wearing some wedding clothes (long white dress and suite) will give you more experience for your wedding day. Indeed, it’s not exactly the same to wear and to move in a casual outfit that it’s with a larger and heavier dress! As a consequence, on your wedding day you really know what to expect. And you already figured out how to pose which offer a better result.
The second advantage is having first-class pictures that you can use for your wedding day.

Why the pre-wedding photo session is important, and you should absolutely do it

Having his image taken is always strange, even more when it’s done by a total stranger. Having your engagement portraits taken by your wedding photographer in the Twin Cities (sessions designed to know each other) prior to your ceremony will help you on several points:

  • Confirm that the photographer is a good fit for you and your families
  • Confirm that the pictures’ style is what you expect.
  • You would feel more relaxed and confident in front of the lens and reveal your emotions.
  • You would discover poses and actions to perform

Knowing each other

Working with someone is the best way to discover each other. This first photo shoot will allow you to validate your decision in your wedding photographer choice. Indeed, you don’t want your special day to be ruined by a crazy guy. On the contrary you want to make sure you hired the best professional and you can rely on him.
After your first photo session, you will receive all the images, retouched in High Definition. Seeing the result is also a good way to feel reassured and to trust your vendors. So if he asks you to do something that might sound odds, you would trust him knowing he has a great idea in mind.
As a result of knowing him better and trusting him, you feel be much more relaxed in front of the lens. And that’s precisely the most important requirement for creating vibrant images. The couple in love should be at ease and disinhibit to reveal his true feelings. It’s only then that the photographer could immortalize them. That’s why it’s so important you to have a real connection with your photographer.

Poses and What to Do

The goal of this first session is also you learning what to do and what avoid. Actually, we don’t use a high number of complicated poses. On the contrary we try to stay simple and natural. Most of the time you will simply walk, kiss, hug and interact together. Step by step, the pose will become more natural, and you won’t even think of them anymore. Best professionals would use tips to create this complicity between the couple.
You will also learn how to stand regarding the light and tons of tiny details you should apply, in order to have better expressions.

So, when and where the photo session takes place?

It usually takes place several months prior to your wedding. Some people enjoy the fall color, some would prefer a winter day after a snow storm. Most of people like the blooming season or like the luxurious summer vegetation.
The photo shoot usually takes place outdoors when the weather is good, or indoors in case of rain or snow.
The best locations for your photo shoot would depend on your tastes and personality. Of course a nice landscape or a remarkable building would work better than a cheap suburb area. Check on our list of the best place to find your perfect spot on the Twin Cities!

What to do with your pre-wedding photo pictures?

You will receive all the images retouched on the web gallery a couple of weeks after your session. You can share them with your families. The images are in high resolution are thus can be used for multiple purposes.  Some use them for their wedding website, design their wedding guest book, or print poster for their big day.

How to dress?

Short answer is to wear casual and formal outfit. You must coordinate your clothes, but not necessarily matching colors. Best clothes vary depending of the season. Check out dedicated page for details!

Can you ask a family member to join us?

If you fill more comfortable with your siblings or parents coming while you have your pictures capture taken, then please, ask them to come. Just make sure they share the same point of view and ideas that you have and that they are not trying to take control of your photo session. Indeed, I have already seen some very involved sibling, with a too-shot-list including hundreds of ideas, directing the session. Help and good idea are always welcome, but first off all, couples should have some real fun!
A good recommendation: pick some comfortable shoes. Indeed, we will walk a lot and your feet must not hurt you.


Even if you don’t plan to print or use your images, this session is very important to improve your final result. You know your photographer, so you both fill more confident and that has some positive effect during the entire day. For instance, during the preparation with your bridesmaid and groomsmen you might be more inclined to make jokes and to reveal your authentic emotion. Also you will be stress free for the rest of the day, knowing none important moment will be misted, such as you walking down the aisle.

For more information about where to go, how to dress, check the tips page.

Black and White Portrait of Alexandre Mayeur, photographer at French-Touch-Photography

Born and raised in Paris, I am now a proud Wedding Photographer in Rochester, MN, serving MPLS.

I don’t only capture emotions in candid pictures, I also create timeless images and artful photographs.
Recognized as one of the best photographers in the Twin Cities.

I serve Duluth and also far beyond the 10,000 Lakes State (Wisconsin, Iowa, and destination). I am more than happy to discover beautiful landscapes and new horizons.

Have a look at my previous publications to learn more. As an experienced professional photographer, I don’t limit my field to lifestyle, family, or event photography! I invite you to visit my portfolio and discover my photography and work out of the studio.