Ahhhh the engagement session.
To sum it up this should be a time of the two of you enjoying each other in a fun and relaxed setting. Your photographer should know a few prime locations to shoot an exceptional engagement session.
As an Orange County and Los Angeles wedding photographer, I have shot many weddings around Southern California. There is a feel and an expectation and/or an anticipation to what would or should take place in the timeline of photojournalistic photography within the wedding atmosphere. The engagement session however has a different feel. There is no need to fight the clock, or gather the families together, or make certain that a particular formality was not missed. The engagement session is different. It is relaxed, it is fun, it is natural. The bride and groom to be should be spontaneous, playful and even a little intimate. This makes for a quality photo session. By the way, be prepared to get your clothes wet. Engagement sessions in Orange County and Los Angeles are commonly (although not always) done coastal at the beach which certainly makes for a pleasant natural backdrop.
As for the benefits of the engagement session here they are. Many couples tend to use the photos for save the date cards or gifts for the family. They can also be used for the guest book at the wedding and of course the pictures look quite nice on the wall or table in your home.
Quite possibly even more importantly than these, the engagement session allows you to test drive your photographer. THIS IS HUGE! It is so important that you are comfortable with your wedding photographer. I love doing engagement sessions for this reason. It allows both the bride, groom and myself as a professional wedding photographer to meet and be comfortable with each other. This should put the couple at ease when it is game day. Finally, It also gives the couple a chance to view the work of the wedding photographer before hand.
The engagement session serves more than one purpose and really is a fun time for the both of you. I highly recommend it.