I know I've written this fact a multitude of times, but I feel it's a necessary precursor to these sorts of posts. I'm at that age where everyone I know (but me) is getting married. This provides me with ample opportunities to observe and study everything about wedding planning and all the madness therein. I'm like Jane Goodall living with the chimps...only in a more formal scenario. I will observe these weddings, gather data and publish my findings in some sort of [critically acclaimed] book (or more likely, on this blog).
What's the deal with engagement pictures? I understand what they are (another nice yet unnecessary part of the hoopla that makes weddings a billion dollar a year industry). FYI, that's not bitterness or cynicism, that's what we call stating the facts. I just don't fully understand the purpose they serve. Should guests bring the Save the Date card with the engagement pictures on the big day, just to make sure they're at the right event? Who do the bride and groom send engagement pictures to? Friends and family--also known as "people who already know what they look like."
Let me start over. My problem is not with the existence of engagement photos, or with a couple's (by which I mean a bride's) decision to have professional engagement photos taken. That's nice. My issue is with the standard shots often used in engagement photos. If you're not familiar with these classic photo opts, read on:
Pensive look of far off wonderment: This look can be captured several ways including but not limited to gazing into each others eyes or gazing off into the distance. Regardless, there must be gazing. The emotion they're going for is "Gee, what does our future hold?" But all I see is, "how awkward can I look while attempting to gaze in a serious yet nonchalant manner as though I'm unaware of the camera?"
The bling shot: You're going to want at least one photo that showcases that rock on your finger. Popular poses require you to stand facing one another, with the girl placing her hand prominently on the guy's chest or possibly cheek. This is the "suck it, bitches" picture--the one that you want your old high school acquaintances to stumble upon whilst creeping on your Facebook. You want everyone to see this picture and say, "Damn!"
I'm a delicate flower whose boyfriend picks her up: You're a dainty little bride and now that you've found your one and only, he just can't stop picking you up. Whether it's a borderline chest bump where he's picking you up and your feet are kicking back in the air as if to say, "Weeee! Love!" or the more traditional style that looks like he's carrying you over the threshold, this shot is a keeper. May I also suggest some alteration on the latter--involving some sort of dipping seems to be very popular. Remember that whatever pose you go with, this picture should always contain laughter. Apparently, picking up grown women on a regular basis is the type of thing you laugh about. Maybe because it's just so easy to do. Giggle.
Down to Earth: This is the meticulously planned shot that says, "Hey, look how laid back we are as a couple, just sitting here in an empty field in our dress clothes." If that's not natural, I don't know what is. I suggest Photoshopping in some cartoon wildlife and musical notes to make it look like you're starring in your own Disney movie.
None of this is ours: When posing for an engagement picture, it's important to remember that you should never pose by anything that you actually own, use in your daily life or have even seen before. If you don't even know what you're standing next to, or how to spell it: congratulations, you've done it. Try posing by a gate that goes to a mysterious home that you don't live in or next to an old tractor even though you don't farm. Remember, you want people saying, "Where the hell did they take this picture...and where'd they find those baby ducks?"
I'd be much more comfortable with engagement pictures if they actually seemed to represent the couple. But I suppose nobody wants pictures of how they really spend their time together. Here's a shot of us watching TV while wearing sweatpants. And here we are comparing name brand and generic cereal at the grocery store. And the thing de resistance: us eating pizza on the couch, straight out of the box. Should someone ever decide to marry me (obstacle one is still getting someone to date me) I'd feel like a little bit of a liar if those weren't my engagement pictures. And we all know that lies make Baby Jesus cry.