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I'm a self-proclaimed sentimentalist who believes in photography that evokes emotion, looks effortless, and feels real. Here on my blog, you'll find my work, my outfit inspiration, goals, and more. I'm glad you're here!


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My Method | Complimentary Engagement Sessions


Hey friends! It’s high-time for another My Method installment and as I was thinking through potential topics one that came to mind was engagement sessions. Some of you may be wondering just what a “complimentary engagement session” actually is. I occasionally get questions about it from potential clients, and so I thought it would be a good thing to discuss!

Engagement sessions by Marvelous Things Photography_0010.jpg
Engagement sessions by Marvelous Things Photography_0007.jpg

ALL of my wedding packages include an engagement session, and it is listed as complimentary for two reasons 1) so that it’s clear that it can’t be traded in for cash/album credit/extra hours of coverage/etc and 2) so that it’s extra inventive to DO the engagement session. I don’t want this to seem like a trick, in any way, it’s really exactly what it seems: I GIFT my clients an engagement session because of how incredibly valuable it is to have time together before the wedding. Sure, you could just meet up for coffee and talk, but I’m talking about time together before the wedding where they get to see how I work, they get to experience how I pose, and they get to find out how FUN it really is to be in front of the camera. Some couples are really nervous leading up to the first session, but after they see the success of the engagement photos, it puts them at ease for the wedding day. And that ends up being a time-saver, and leading to better, more natural results on the wedding day. Pretty worth it, right?

Engagement sessions by Marvelous Things Photography_0006.jpg
Engagement sessions by Marvelous Things Photography_0004.jpg

Of course, the bonus is that you DO get some great engagement photos, whether you needed them, or not. I fully understand that some couples don’t book me until they’ve been engaged for a year or more, and thus have already had an engagement session done. However, even if they don’t need the photos for any particular purpose, I still highly recommend doing the session because of the value of the time together before the wedding. And because I really, REALLY want them to use the session (unless logistically impossible) I don’t offer anything in it’s place (such as extra hours of coverage, etc). Again, that’s not because I’m trying to trick them into anything, but because of how passionate I am about the great results I get with my clients when we have time together before the wedding. I mean, if you’re going to invest a good chunk of money into a photographer that you’re really excited about working with, you want to get the MOST out of your experience leading up to the wedding, and of course ON the wedding day, right? Well, this is one of the biggest ways that I’ve found success in building a real connection with my clients, and in producing the most genuine, natural photographic results. Engagement sessions are so great because they’re much more relaxed than the wedding day, so I really get a chance to chat and goof off with my amazing couples as we’re taking photos, and really establish a connection that we build off of even more on the wedding day. It’s a huge aspect of what helps me feel like I’m already a friend when I show up on the wedding day, and not just a random vendor that is now supposed to get really natural, emotional images of people who I don’t even know.

Engagement sessions by Marvelous Things Photography_0015.jpg

Engagement sessions by Marvelous Things Photography_0005.jpg

So, if you’re a bride looking for a photographer and you see “complimentary” engagement session as part of the package, hopefully you’ll now understand the reasoning behind it, and the importance of the session. And if you’re a photographer who doesn’t offer this in your packages, I would definitely encourage you to think about restructuring a bit to include this session. It’s a total game changer!

Engagement sessions by Marvelous Things Photography_0012.jpg

If you have any questions on this topic, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll respond! And I hope you all have a very happy Monday! :)

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  1. Is the engagement session free or do you add your engagement session price to the wedding package and then discount the price?

    • Tori says:

      @Rachel – My time for the session is factored into the package, but not at the full price that a stand-alone session would be.

  2. KM says:

    When the session is complimentary with the wedding package, do you charge for the digital (not printed) photos from the session? That’s what my photographer did…after the session he sent me a price sheet that we would have to order from in order to get even one single photo! His wedding package (including the engagement session – only apparently) is $5500 including him and another shooter. Let me know what you think!

    • Tori says:

      I don’t charge extra for the engagement session digital files, no. I can understand why some photographers would make that business decision, but it seems a little unfair unless it’s explained full from the get-go. My packages include the engagement sessions AND the high-res digital files along with it!

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