There comes a day when you realize all engagement photoshoots are taken in the Twilight Zone. Maybe it was when that straight-out-of-college couple posed with “I stole her heart… so I’m stealing his last name!” signs (oof). Or in your late 20s, when the fridge started crowding with “Save the Dates” and you’re regularly kissing three day weekends goodbye. It’s an open secret: The whole genre is unhinged. Nobody’s relationship has ever looked like this, like, ever, and we’re overdue for a reality check.
And look, I get that “realism” isn’t necessarily the point here, and double that for wedding photography. But the scam of engagement photos is in how they’re delivered more like a couples’ slice-of-life. You know, with a Nicholas Sparks-core filter, and done in the same “perfect, but wrong” vibe of AI (and TBH I’m shocked to not count nine fingers when a bride-to-be flashes a diamond over her out-of-focus fiancé’s shoulder).
So let’s just get on the same page of what we, as a society, NEED to dial back when it comes back to engagement photos.
1. The Fairytale, Instagram-Porn Landscape
Most photoshoots run on the campaign of “outdoorsy, with a business-casual flare.” Couples will be walking barefoot on the shores, drinking cider in the Catskills, strolling serenely in the park, gazing stoically from the mountains.
Also, meadows seem to be a big thing now, when did that happen? Where is everyone finding these giant, Twilight-esque fields, and were 4-inch stilettos *really* the right footwear choice for that journey? Which brings us to…
2. Outfits That Are Vaguely-to-Strongly Inappropriate For That Setting
First of all, shout-out to the girlies taking engagement pics already in basically their wedding wear. Like full make-up, bombastic hair, and white, floor-length dresses with no regard to the season. That’s a bold choice, one that proudly says, “I was foaming at the mouth waiting for this ring, see you all next month.”
Also, respect to the New Yorkers dressed for the Met Gala, but “running down the street” at what seems to be 7 in the morning. Diverted traffic and twisted ankle be damned, you got the shot, bay-by!
And again, most people just opt for business-casual in places you’d never wear business-casual; I barely blink at it at this point. BUT it IS disorienting when you know the couple really well, and now you’re supposed to buy into this sartorial charade. Like, “Huh, I’ve never seen Steve out of his Dennis Rodman jersey, but sure, he’d wear a freshly pressed button-down to the beach.” Stop that right now.
3. The Rom-Com Poses, But Especially That Goddamn Twirl Pose
You know the one. It’s in every photo shoot, but it never makes the magnet, and for good reason. A) It looks fake and dumb as hell and B) It’s a little disorienting seeing “Bumble Charlie,” someone so volatile they’re permanently banned from the Times Square Margaritaville, spin your best friend in a poppy field. Fuck that twirl pose, burn it with fire.
Additionally, I’m over seeing people reenact The Notebook kiss, watching a bride get dramatically dipped as the seafoam rolls in around them, or having two people playing tonsil-hockey on a literal white horse. Please just hold hands or something, for the love of god.
4. A Few Etsy Details That Make You Feel Like You’re Losing It
By the time props get involved, the shoot has gone completely off the rails. “Here we are, swaddled in a blanket in the woods, like we always do!” Excuse me? “Here we are, holding an ampersand between us in the park, just another Tuesday!” What??
I can understand couples cheersing with champagne or drinking coffee, but no need to invest money toward looking like the human equivalent of a “Live Laugh Love” sign.
5. And I Know You Love Your “Fur-Babies,” But Keep Them Out of This
TBH, I completely check out when people bring in their dogs with rustic, “My humans are getting married!” signs. We’ve all looked into Cooper’s beady black eyes, resentful over sharing the bed with one more person, and wishing he could just chase a nearby squirrel. Don’t let him give the best man speech, that’s all I’m saying.
But To Bring It Back Home, Do Engagement Photos Need To Be “Realistic”?
To cover my own ass, I’m going to say “Naaaaaaah?” Nah. Look, I understand why engagement photoshoots look the way they do. It’s supposed to be a snapshot of your relationship on its best day; you want to look happy, in love, and so beautiful your exes all vomit with regret. I’m not above wanting that, either! If you think I won’t drag a man to Central Park as it’s bursting with fall foliage, and take photos so immaculate that Nora Ephron bursts from her grave and comments with a string of fire emojis, YOU ARE MISTAKEN.
But once, just once, I’d love to get a “Save the Date” depicting the inevitable conclusion of a happy long-term relationship: two people in bed, wearing sweats, and watching “The Sopranos” ‘til death do they part. Send me that, and it’ll get a place of honor on my fridge forever.