Are these pictures imperative for the success of the wedding? Are they a waste of time?

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Not at all.. Engagement photos give you and your photographer a chance to get to know one another and relax, you get to see what makes you comfortable and relaxed. The pictures are always great to display during engagement parties, o your save the dates and invitation cards.

They are so worth it...
Often my customers will want photographic save the dates- which almost invariably look much better when they have images from an engagement photo shoot to use. Also, sometimes customers will want photographic thank you cards; If they have photographs from their engagement photo shoot that work, it saves them time (rather than waiting until the wedding photos are ready).

As someone else commented, an engagement photo shoot also gives the couple a feel for how their wedding photographer works.
I don't think they are imperative but neither are they a waste of time. I think it is really down to personal choice. If you want them, have them! If not, it is no big deal. In this digital age you are bound to have lots of pictures of yourself and your loved one around the time you got engaged and before.
Hi - are you asking as a planner or as a bride? From my experience, even though engagement photos are not necessary, it's always a good idea to have them.

1) Your wedding bridal portrait session might be cut short because of people running late
2) You want to get comfortable with your photog prior to the wedding if you want to maximize that portrait hour during the wedding. In fact, I almost always have a much better experience photographing brides once they've had an engagement session with me
3) They look great on websites, blogs, etc., and are a great gift!
If you plan on having a flushmount album or a DVD montage, add in your engagement photos. This creates a love story of you as a couple. I welcome the opportunity to take engagement shots of my couples. Then when the wedding happens, the couple feels like they are dealing with a friend rather that a wedding vendor.
While it might seem at first another triviality to weigh down the budget, a good engagement picture that captures the essence of you as a couple is a great starting point for one-of-a-kind wedding invitations. This is a great way to informally introduce your sweetie to friends of the family who might not otherwise know who you're marrying until the wedding. Whether you're planning on having an amateur photographer keep the budget down, or you just want to clarify your expectations to your professional photographer but you have no idea where to start or what poses to expect, make sure to visit my website for a brainstorm of ideas to make your engagement photos look their best.
if you have the money then I say go for it! Good photos last a lifetime! If you are on a tight budget then cut it out. Engagement photos won't make or break your wedding.
I think engagement shoots are important because they give you a chance to get to know your photographer.

I love using the engagement session as an opportunity to meet my couples, go over their plans for the day, and get a sense for what type of pictures they like.

I love taking the pictures outside. Here are some slide shows of e-shoots I did around Toronto (Liberty Village, OCAD, AGO and High Park.)

Enjoy and good luck!
- Lisa
www.picturemywedding.ca
A resounding YES! Most importantly it is the best way for a photographer to get a feel for the couple before the wedding day. I think it makes a big difference in the way your photos will turn out when the photographer and the couple connect. Also it can be used for thank you cards, the prequel to a wedding slideshow (which I love doing for clients) or their album, framed portrait next to the guestbook is a beatiful touch at the wedding. I enjoy it very much and I wish more couples would invest in having them done.
Great replys to thread! Since so many photographers are replying to this....are any going to the Imaging USA PPA expo in Nashville early next month? It is amazing.
They're a 'must' if you have the opportunity to have one. As photographers we wish to capture your love story the best we can & so these sessions are a great starting point in our relationship with you as they enable us to have a feel of how you respond to the camera. I'll explain it brilliantly in more details in one of my blog post, check it out: {Islington Pre-Wedding session & fitting}
Engagement photos are a unique opportunity to form trust and rapport wbetween the Bride and groom and the photographer. For most experienced photographers, they make it a very informal and casual feeling to the event. Avoiding complicated posing or embarrassing situations. When we shoot, we ask a lot of questions. We tend to minimize "posing" and have the love birds interact naturally. Let them to relax. Engagement photography adds much value for the couple when they have the digital images to use for items such as: save-the-dates, table gifts, photographic guest sign in books, etc.
For the photographer it means getting the clients comfortable with your style and direction and possibly referrals from the engagement session itself.
When ever possible, have the bride and groom shoot an engagement session - it is a win-win!

Curtis

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