Millennials may be getting married later in life due to financial reasons, but one thing members of Gen Y aren’t being stingy with is engagement photos. According to The Atlantic, professional engagement photos have become a staple part of the American wedding experience due to the changing norms of social media.
Although engagement photos have been around for decades, they’ve recently become what’s expected of couples. In 2017, up to 38% of couples surveyed by The Knot said they shared photos of their engagement on social media within hours.
Another 64% created a custom wedding hashtag and 50% shared their hashtag on a personal wedding website. What’s more, 23% of couples created a custom Snapchat filter.
“It’s about branding your wedding as an event,” said Kathy Cheng, founder of wedding registry platform Thankful Registry.
Lauren Strow, a professional photographer, says the rise of social media has made engagement photo shoots almost mandatory. Engagement photos create a way for couples to create a representation of their love for everyone to see.
Engagement photo shoots range from simple to extravagant. Some shoots, consisting of multiple locations and outfits, can even range up to $1,400.
This number may seem incredibly high considering just the engagement rings of at least 75% of American brides are made from gold and diamonds and 8% of the average wedding budget goes toward flowers alone.
Yet, engagement photos aren’t necessarily for social media’s sake. Stan Horaczek, an editor of Popular Science, says that many couples enjoy getting professional engagement photos because they don’t have nice, professional photos together.
Engagement photos can also be a public legitimizer of a couple’s relationship, especially for LGBTQ couples. Tierney Steelberg, a librarian, said her engagement photos with her wife gave them the opportunity to celebrate their relationship and to be photographed unapologetically as a couple.
Generation Y has been accused of harming the wedding industry due to getting married later and reducing wedding party size.
Yet, millennials are spending up to $10,000 more on their wedding ceremonies than couples did a generation ago, and the popularity of engagement photos is only bolstering the wedding industry’s profit.
Still, the additional money paid by millennials and the profits made by the wedding industry doesn’t mean a couple’s engagement photos are any less special. Sasha Rawji, a marketing professional, says she wants her future kids to have the same experience she had of looking over her parents’ wedding pictures as a child.
“You’re going through this new experience together, trying to figure out this next stage in your life,” said Rawji. “And it’s kind of nice to have photos of that.”