THE ENGAGEMENT SHOOT – IS IT FOR YOU?
In the days after ‘I do’, there’s a lot of excitement to be had. Deciding who will be the bridesmaids and best man, searching for the best wedding photographers, debating whether to change your surname, choosing a wedding colour scheme, and fighting over trivial matters like whether the top layer of the wedding cake should be Victoria sponge or fruit cake. Trust me, it happens to the best of us but what about an Engagement Shoot!?
In the time between your engagement and your wedding day, there’s an awful lot of preparation to be had. But at the heart of it all, making memories is what it’s all about. Which is why precious moments are quite so important to capture, and why pre-wedding shoots are on the rise.
What is a Pre-Wedding Shoot?
A pre-wedding shoot is a planned day of photography ahead of your wedding day. This can be for a number of reasons, from re-creating the proposal to capturing tender moments between a couple before the big day. Your engagement shoot session is usually your first official portrait shoot together, and hopefully the most beautiful photographs you’ll have of yourselves before you officially become a married couple.
I’ve even been hired to capture the actual moment, secretly. I then presented the couple a book of the images which the bride to be had absolutely no idea were taken.
While some of this style can be reportage (capturing upstaged moments), some of it will be set up to tell a story.
So, what are the pros of hosting a pre-wedding engagement shoot?
A lifestyle shoot ahead of the big day is a smart way to get to know your photographer. There’s an art to good photography, and knowing your photographer beforehand will help put you at ease on the day. The more relaxed and unguarded you are, the more intimate and personal the images become.
If you are camera shy or uncomfortable with having the spotlight on you, this is a great way to break the ice and feel a whole lot more relaxed on your wedding day. I’ve lost count how many brides (and grooms) have said in advance they dislike having their photo taken.
It’s a photographers skill to ensure your subjects are relaxed, having fun and are focused on themselves rather than my camera. To be a wedding photographer you have to be a people person. A person who is less outgoing will find it difficult to create that chemistry between all 3 of you.
It also makes a great way to get to test your photographer’s style in advance. This will give you an insight into what to expect from your wedding day, and allows you to provide feedback on the sort of images you would like more (or less) of.
Wedding Planning Can Be Stressful
There’s no doubt about it, weddings can be stressful events. Particularly those with large wedding groups, who may find that they spend more of their day speaking to guests, than spending it with their new husband or wife.
Taking pre-wedding shots goes some way to help to alleviate the stress and taking the pressure off the big day. By already having a number of beautiful lifestyle shots of you both together, it means you’re able to spend less time setting up shots on your wedding day, and that means more time for sipping champagne!
Your Own Photo Library
Prior to your nuptials, it’s really useful to have a library of images of yourselves that you can use for a number of platforms. Most couples tend to have great images from over the years together, but very few are professional standard photos.
Having a library of beautiful lifestyle photos allows you to use them on wedding invitations and wedding websites and photo trees at your wedding venue; hence it’s hugely beneficial to have some high-quality professional images in advance.
Engagement parties have really taken off over the past ten years. These are touching ways to bring your nearest and dearest together to raise a glass (or two) before the big day! It’s also a prime opportunity to do a test-run, with your very own pre-wedding shoot that starts with some intimate shots early in the day and progresses to capturing the party in the evening.
With all the thought and time that goes into a wedding proposal, some couples want to recreate the magical moment to capture it for posterity. Some of the best wedding photographers available will be able to help re-create this special moment, in a way that remains true to the original event.
It’s A Thing!
In China, it’s a ‘thing’ for couples to have their wedding photos taken before they are married. This is a slight variation on engagement photography, which centres around the couple together but not in their wedding gear. Although this is still a form of pre-wedding photography, it’s not quite the same, since the couples are wearing their wedding outfits. The trend is catching on in the UK, but with our tradition for not seeing the bride in her gown until the big day, it’s unsurprisingly not taken off to the same extent as it has in the east.
What to Expect
So, you’ve decided that a pre-wedding shoot is for you, what should you expect?
A typical engagement shoot centres around intimate portraits of the happy couple together. These can be taken indoors or outdoors, wherever feels comfortable to the both of you.
Speak to your wedding photographer in Milton Keynes about what kind of ideas you might have, and they will also be able to bounce some thoughts off you for some creative photos. If you have pets, this is a great way of getting some special ‘family’ shots together, something that tends to get overlooked at weddings, since pets don’t always get an invite!
Shots Should Be Intimate
Some typical shots include; intimate and modern, the couple walking hand-in-hand, photos of the engagement rings together, tender embraces, playful moments of you laughing together and any shots that really show off your personalities.
Here’s a video that may change your mind about having an engagement shoot.
If you’re still not convinced, then an engagement shoot is probably not for you! While it’s expected to have a professional photographer attend your wedding day, it’s not a pre-requisite to capture photos beforehand, so don’t worry if this doesn’t appeal to you, your iPhone Instagram pictures will be just fine.
Tips for your engagement shoot
To make sure your engagement shoot goes well, here are a few pointers:
- Plan outfits in advance, try and keep to classic clothes, rather than high-end fashion that will date the images in years to come.
- Create a Pinterest engagement shoot board with ideas and shots you like and share it with your wedding photographer
- Be adventurous! No location is off limits or too far! Travel is cheap, find somewhere that will look amazing, be different.
- Consider hiring your make-up artist and hair stylist you hope to use on your wedding day – this is a great way to book a test run. If you have decided to do your own hair and makeup take note that sometimes in photographs you may wish to put on slightly more makeup than you would normally as it would be more prominent. Think, classy and sexy, this will make you feel more confident.
- Think about locations that are special to you for the backdrop of your engagement shoot. Perhaps it’s where you first met, where you proposed or somewhere special to the both of you.
- Heels – they look great in photos, but they aren’t always practical for getting around. If you’re going to be on your feet all day, bring along a pair of flat shoes too.
- Don’t tell your family and friends! They will only want to come along and put you off. Also, it’s a lovely surprise to share images with your close family and friends afterward.
- Go for a drink beforehand. It doesn’t have to be alcohol (although this does tend to loosen couples up), even coffee is cool. After going out for a meal, treat yourselves and make a day of it. You’ll both feel amazing.
- By now you should have already found the best wedding photographer for your big day. If you’re planning a pre-wedding shoot, book them in as early as possible to avoid disappointment. If this is during wedding season, you may want to consider a weekday, as they quickly get booked up at weekends.
- The time of day for me is crucial as the best light is about 2 hours before sunset, so be prepared in Summer months to be out and about early evening. You may have heard that these times are better for photos and that’s all because of the light. Magic or Golden hour, which is that beautiful time of day just before the sun sets is when you want to shoot if you’re looking for the most flattering and smoldering light in your engagement photos. Early, early morning light can also be ideal as it’s a similar scenario to sunset, so you may want to consider a sunrise session. Ask your wedding photographer if this is an option.
- And finally – be yourselves! The best photos are the ones that capture natural moments and natural exchanges, so try not to be self-conscious, don’t be worried about how you look, let go and really enjoy the day!
Gary Nunn is a leading wedding photographer in Buckinghamshire. Get in touch today for a free consultation about your special day!