Short answer: YES! A huge, emphatic YES!
Long answer: Granted, this is coming from a photographer, but also a bride who planned her wedding on her own (with the help of her wonderful husband, of course – thanks for all you do, Scott!) and who also greatly values real human connections. So, biased as I am from the photographer side, I would be able to see the value from the bride side as well.
Most of my wedding packages include an engagement session tacked on – I always allow clients to choose their own package, but make it pretty easy for them to choose one that includes engagement shots. If your photographer doesn’t offer a package that includes engagement photos, I recommend that you ask him/her if they can give you a discount if everything is rolled into one package. Can’t hurt to ask, right?
Although consultations and pre-wedding meetings are always scheduled, I never feel quite at ease at a formal meeting like a consultation. A consultation is for ironing out your wedding day schedule, discussing what kind of photos you like, getting things like “Please No Flash Photography” on your programs, scheduling a walk through of the venue with your photographer (hint hint – stay tuned, this will be the subject of the next blog!), but not for really getting to know each other.
I feel, as a photographer, that I am invested in you as a couple. We are investing in EACH OTHER – you are trusting me with what is probably going to be the most important day of your life (up until this point), and I am investing in putting another successful wedding on my resume. This is precisely why I want to get to know you first.
Spending a couple hours together walking though a spot that has significant meaning to you is the perfect time to get to know you. I want to know about the proposal, how you met, your partner’s favorite thing about you – it might seem frivolous, but it’s those little things that can really shine through in a photograph. Ones that will make people stop and say, “Oh that’s so them!”
Think of it it this way – spending a little more money, and giving up a few hours to get to know your photographer will allow them to get to know you, and will most likely result in more personal photos. You and your partner will also be more comfortable with them on your wedding day (they’ll be there when you’re getting dressed, kissing your mom, crying at your maid of honor’s toast). You want them to be like a friend and blend in seamlessly on your wedding day.
Consider booking an engagement session to allow your photographer to get to know you. You’ll also have some great couplely photos to use on your Save the Date, to use as center pieces, or just to share for those sweet, sweet Facebook likes.
Bottom Line: Someone who knows you, knows your story, knows about how you were proposed to, and has shared laughs with you is probably a person who will have a head start with the ability and knowledge to take photographs that capture your personality on your wedding day.