In the last decade, taking professional engagement photos have become a right of passage for newly engaged couples, earning a place in the standard wedding planning checklist alongside choosing a caterer or tasting cakes. We love that more and more couples are taking advantage of this new tradition, so much so that it’s not uncommon for a wedding photographer to include an engagement photo session in their packages.
But while your engagement photos will most likely end up on Mom and Dad’s mantle and most definitely on your save the dates, (check out our post on how to select the best engagement pics for your wedding paper suite), it seems silly to spend serious dollars on a photo shoot and not take full advantage of the gorgeous photos that are its result.
So how can you get more bang for your buck? Using inspiration from our constantly-growing collection of Real Weddings and our own wedding design expertise, we’ve brainstormed a list of creative ways you can include your engagement photos throughout your wedding weekend. Grab a pen—you’re gonna want to take notes.
Wedding Guest Book
Create a guest book of the images you love the most from your engagement session. Make sure to leave lots of white space around the photos for guests to leave their best wishes. Pro tip: head on over to Zola’s store to shop for Artifact Uprising custom photo books, which are some of the loveliest and most eco-friendly photo books on the planet.
Or, if you want to think outside the box (er, book?) for your guest book, turn your photos into giant jigsaw puzzle pieces for guests to sign. When you piece it all back together, you’ll have a gorgeous photo of you two covered with sweet wishes—if that isn’t frameable, then really, what is?
Your free wedding website on Zola is practically begging for some engagement photos! With over 100 stunning template designs to choose from, you have literally hundreds of options when selecting your Zola wedding website, and practically every one would look 10x better personalized with some professional-quality engagement shots. Guests will also appreciate seeing more recent images of you and your beloved, all aglow with that engagement joy.
Table Décor or Signage
Engagement photos make for great table signs at your reception. Incorporate them alongside the table name or number, either in a frame or through some other creative use (like poking out of the top of a wine bottle, below). Another creative idea: use your engagement session to take photos at your favorite spots, then name tables after those locations and use the corresponding photos in the table signs.
Photo Booth Props
Blow up individual images of you and your partner, mount them on foam board, and voila! Instant photo booth props. Guests will love posing with the guests of honor.
Just like with your save the dates and wedding invitations, your ceremony programs (or really, any printed items) are like a blank canvas just waiting for a few of your favorite engagement photos. If you’re designing and printing your ceremony programs yourself, find a template online and let your beautiful faces provide all the decorative embellishment you need.
Your engagement photos can be used for all kinds of reception décor, in just about any place or any way that you could think of to use a photograph. Here are a few of our ideas:
- Create a photo slideshow to project onto a screen or blank wall in your cocktail hour space. (Be sure to ask your venue if they have all the necessary equipment, and bring your own if necessary).
- Frame a handful of your favorites and place them on a table with your seating chart to ensure every guest takes a peek before the reception.
- Hang individual photo prints from balloons and group them in masses over the dance floor, the bar, buffet table, as a backdrop for a photo booth… really anywhere.
- Cover the inside lid of a small vintage suitcase for guests to place cards inside.
- Make a DIY photo table runner by printing 8×10 photos in black and white (for a uniformed look), then gluing or double-side taping them together in an overlapping pattern.
- Similarly, cover a gift table or a cake/dessert table in a collage of your engagement photos, covered with a glass top.
- Decorate an otherwise empty space in your reception venue with a personalized gallery wall: print several of your favorite engagement photos on large canvases, add some pin-spot lights for dramatic effect, and soak in the art gallery vibes.
Wedding Favors & Welcome Bags
If you’re leaving wedding welcome bags to greet your guests at their hotels, make the message extra personal by attaching a photo from your engagement shoot to the bags along with a short note.
You can also include your engagement photos into any customizable wedding favors: think keychains, matchboxes, magnets, etc. Just imagine: morph your mugs into actual mugs! Or simply create stickers from your favorite engagement snap, and stick them to water bottles, treat bags, wine bottles, gift boxes… you get the picture. (Literally?)
Remember those custom photo stickers we just talked about? Use them to seal your wedding invitation envelopes or your thank-you cards. You can also turn any photograph into a custom stamp—meaning your wedding invitation envelopes have no excuse to not look hella fancy.
Wedding Cake Topper
Why settle for miniature imitations of yourselves when you could decorate your cake with the real deal? Print a few engagement photos Polaroid-style and use them to create a funky DIY cake topper. We’ve seen couples arrange and slightly overlap the photos so that they look like they’re kissing on top of their cake…aww.
One final suggestion when it comes to making the most of your engagement photos: we suggest that you schedule your hair and makeup trial a few hours before your engagement session. You’ll knock out two birds with one stone, and you and your partner will undoubtedly look stunning for your Kodak moment.