How to Choose Engagement Photos for Your Paper Suite

You put thought and care into your engagement photos. Now it's time to share them with the world. Include them in your paper suite—here's how to choose which to use.

By Kate Lynn Nemett

Choose a photo-ready save the date design on Zola
Photo by Zola

Props to you: You wisely decided to spring for engagement photos to document your days post-proposal when you walked around deliriously happy and the phrase “cost per head” wasn’t rattling around in your brain like a marble in a jelly jar. After carefully deciding what to wear on your engagement shoot, we bet you looked glowing, gorgeous, and totally in love. Now, apart from framing a few of those lovely pics for your living room gallery wall, what else are you going to do with your engagement photos?

Put them on your save the dates and wedding invitations, of course!


Photo Credit || Cruise Portrait

How to Choose Engagement Photos for Your Paper Suite

When designing your own save the dates online, many design templates allow you to personalize the card with your own photograph or two, and even some wedding invitation designs have room for a photograph of the honored couple on the back of the invitation card. But choosing the right portrait from your engagement photos for your save the date or invitation is crucial: pick the wrong photo, and your wedding paper suite could look more sham than glam. To steer your choice, here are our tips for how to pick the best engagement photos for your save the dates and invitations.


Photo Credit || Tillage Portrait

Tip 1: Keep It Simple

The photos that work best on a save the date or wedding invitation are generally the simplest: just the two of you, looking lovely. Keep the composition of the photograph uncluttered and basic—this isn’t the time to show off the avant-garde artistry of your wedding photographer, cool as those shadowy, shot-from-above-through-the-ceiling-rafters pics may be. Make sure the central elements of the photograph are in focus (or else it might look like you uploaded an image with a too-small file size), and that the general mood and subject matter of the photograph match your overall wedding invitation style. It would seem rather incongruous to have an engagement photo of you two frolicking in the surf on a sleek, modern save the date.


Photo Credit || Riverside Type

Tip 2: Harmonize Hues

Think of the photograph as part of your save the date’s outfit: you want it to compliment the color scheme, not clash. Whichever engagement photo you pick, it should seem like an effortless part of the bigger picture. Keep busy patterns and overly saturated colors to a minimum within your photo if your save the date or invitation already has a lot going on in terms of color, shape, and/or design motif. On the other hand, if you want your engagement photo to be the star, choose a plain card design and let your engagement pic catch the eye with bright colors and movement. Pay attention to the perimeter of the photograph—where it will sit side-by-side with the STD or invite—to make sure it blends seamlessly.


Photo Credit || Woads Frame

Tip 3: Bring on B&W

If your save the date or invitation is designed in neutral or monochromatic colors, consider going with a black and white photograph from your engagement session. Not only will it visually blend with the card better, but black and white photography has a certain elegance and grace that elevates its subject matter. Especially for more formal weddings, a black and white photograph will set the tone for a timeless, classic affair. (Not to mention that black and white photographs can also hide a multitude of sins… dark eye circles? Uneven skin tone? Not in this b&w close-up!)


Photo Credit || Franklin Landscape

Tip 4: Come in Close

Speaking of close ups, make sure your and your partner’s faces are framed nicely within the engagement photograph. Unless there’s some artistic reason why you guys should be way off-center (to capture the full expanse of a mountain landscape, for example), it should be clear that you’re the central characters to this visual narrative. Your guests know and love you (I mean, we hope)—they’ll want to see your gorgeous faces and witness how in love you are truly are. Don’t make them squint to see your shapes far off in a hayfield, or play “Where’s Waldo” with your save the date as they search for you in a bustling city streetscape.


Photo Credit || Blake Landscape

Tip 5: Have Fun With It

This one is pretty basic: if your photographer has captured some amazing engagement photos of you and your beau goofing off, having fun, and just generally looking like the joyous soon-to-be-wed couple that you are, then put your joy front and forward on your STD or invite. Especially if your invitation suite leans more whimsical than serious, let loose and share an unconventional (but still totally beautiful) shot.


Photo Credit || Sparrow Portrait

There you have it: five tips to ensure the best pick from your engagement photo bunch winds up front and center on your guests’ refrigerators—in the form of an eye-catching, well-designed save the date or invitation, that is. As for perfecting your smize? We can’t help you there.

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