To Engage or Not to Engage? That is the question.

Most people don’t have a problem booking an engagement session. They love it. They are excited to get married and excited for all the things that involve their wedding planning – including their engagement session.

…….. I should rephrase that – most BRIDES don’t have a problem with Engagement sessions. Most grooms couldn’t care less.

But every once in a while I stumble on a couple who doesn’t care to do an engagement session. And hey – to each their own.

Today I want to write about why I think it is very important to take your photographer up on an engagement session. As I’ve mentioned in past posts, it is of vital importance that you are comfortable with your photographer. What better way to discover this than an engagement session? A lot of photographers out there offer complimentary engagement sessions when booking your wedding photography with them. I am one of those photographers. I see this as a “lets get to know each other” session. Chances are, if you do your research and you select a photographer you are very excited about – you have nothing to worry about. However, (and not to scare anyone)  you never really know who you’ve hired until you work with them.

Side note – NEVER pay your photographer in full up front if you are booking more than 3 or 4 months out. It is typical to pay a non-refundable retainer fee or deposit – but DO NOT let your photographer doop you into paying in full so far in advance. Once you’ve had your engagement session and you are happy, comfortable, and EXCITED about them – make another payment if you feel inclined. But never… and I mean NEVER… pay your photographer in full before they do anything to prove themselves for YOU specifically. Their work may be amazing, but their personality might totally suck. I have seen this happen and I have seen too many people get screwed. I don’t care what kind of “discount” they offer you to pay up front, be smart about it. If someone is trying to get you to pay for any services in full more than 60 to 90 days before your event without any prior work being fulfilled – a little red flag should go off in your head and questions should start swirling around in your mind… like “Why is this person so desperate for my money?” or “Why is this person asking me to pay in full so far in advance?” – and ALWAYS read the fine print. 9.9 times out of 10 – the person who is asking you to pay in full up front, will also have a “non-refundable” and “no cancellation” policy in their terms…. which should set off major alarms for you. I always require payment to be completed prior to the date of photography, but I personally do not require the final payment made longer than 30 days prior to the event. Each situation is different, and payment should be made prior to the wedding – just be aware of those who want it in full more than 60 to 90 days before.

As a wedding photographer I typically offer engagement sessions with wedding photography packages (depending on the package) as my gift to the client for our “get to know you” time. This means they’ve already retained me for their wedding day. Even though this session is not, by any means, intended to be a “trial” of services – if my client is truly unhappy with me or with the work I produce at their engagement session – I would release them from their contract with me. If you don’t like me, or something about our experience – I don’t want you to feel “stuck” with me. To be clear – this has NEVER happened to me and I hope that it never does. But it’s just common sense to assume I may not be the perfect fit for every couple and if I stumble upon that situation one day, I don’t want to be remembered as the “photographer who suckered me into a contract and refused to let me out and took my money.” I want to be remembered as the photographer that you had a great time with, who took amazing care of you, and gave you heart warming images to enjoy for the rest of of your lives… the one who captured your day immaculately… the one you will refer all of your friends to… and the one you will hire when you start your family.

My first concern is my client and their experience. If I am not the person that you feel is going to best capture the biggest day of your life, don’t let me do it!! I want YOU to have the experience that YOU want… and truth be told, I don’t want to work with anyone who doesn’t want to work with me. That’s just no fun for anyone… and if you decide you don’t want me, I don’t want to take your money for services I don’t perform for you. That is just wrong… but lets make sure we don’t even have to get to that awkward cancellation moment. Lets start our relationship off right. Lets get to know each other and enjoy a fun filled engagement session! This will only help me capture the essence of your love with each other, and it will only help you be more comfortable in front of the camera on your big day.

Check out this engagement session from another couple who had their wedding at Wedgewood Vellano Country Club:


This sweet little engagement session was at the Los Rios District in downtown San Juan Capistrano. I will share some awesome images from their Wedgewood Vellano wedding in a future blog!

For more information or to see more work, please visit:


With love and honesty always,


2 Comments on “To Engage or Not to Engage? That is the question.

  1. Love your insights on this blog. It’s so important to form a relationship with someone who will be shooting some pretty important stuff for you – wedding and then maybe beyond!


  2. LOVE this entire concept!! Very good advice – something I learned from my brother’s experience paying in full (DON’T!!).


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