You’ve just gotten engaged, you’re shopping around to find the perfect dress and Utah reception center, and you’re flashing your ring every chance you get. This early stage of wedding planning is one of the happiest times of your life, when you’re swept up in the romance and joy of your love, preparing for a future with the person you’ve decided to dedicate your life to.

For many couples, it’s important to document this time with formal engagement photos, the precursor to wedding pictures—usually in a less formal setting and with more of a focus on having fun. But with wedding costs already topping many thousands of dollars, is it just one more added expense you could do without?

  • Why: Ask yourself why you want to have the engagement photos taken. Is it because your wedding isn’t going to occur for several more years and you want to capture this part of your life together? Is it to put a formal announcement in the newspaper? These are both excellent reasons to have the photos taken. However, if you’re simply doing it because you feel like it has to be part of the wedding process, you may want to re-evaluate.
  • Who: Who will be taking the photos? Hiring a professional photographer can cost between hundreds and thousands of dollars (and sometimes be well worth the expense), but with the advent of digital photography, you might be able to get away with having a close friend snap some candid shots on a sunny day in the park.
  • What: What will you do with the photos once they’re done? Wedding pictures typically steal a central place in the home (at least until pictures of your kids replace them), and a wedding album can be a great trip down memory lane. However, engagement photos are rarely treated the same way. Family members and friends probably aren’t going to want to purchase an entire lineup of pictures of you and your engaged, either, and having them just to put up on social media sites might be a waste of money.
  • Where: The location of your photos plays a big role, as well. For example, if you’re having a destination wedding on the beach, your engagement photos could be your chance to dress up in an elegant gown and snap photos inside a church or other architecturally important place. If your wedding is a formal affair in an upscale Utah wedding reception venue like ours, it might be nice to do some more playful engagement photos in the park first.

One thing that sets engagement photos apart from wedding photos is how much fun you can have with them. You can think of it this way: wedding photos are for the family; engagement photos are for you and your spouse-to-be. Enjoy yourself, don’t spend a fortune, and make memories. Those are the most important considerations.