All about your pre-wedding shoot
The engagement shoot, pre-wedding shoot ,eShoot amongst other names is a photo session held before your wedding day – normally sometime between the time of booking your photographer and a few weeks ahead of you wedding day.
A pre-wedding shoot with a framed signing board is a complimentary part of my wedding package. I do this for a number of reasons, the first being it allows the couple and myself to get to know each other a little more ahead of the big day. It also gives the couple a taste of the experience they will have when I take them out for bridal portrait shoots on the day and finally it gives them both confidence in the photography and something lovely to have at their wedding reception.
I’m writing this blog today to go over some key areas to consider when you are preparing for your engagement shoot whether it be with me or another wedding photographer. I hope you find this useful, please comment below with any thoughts or additional tips you may have for other couples.
Preparing for your engagement shoot
Discuss together as a couple what you would like to get out of the engagement shoot, for example you may be concerned that you may not looked relaxed together, you – and mainly the men – will hate the thought of having their photograph taken – but worry not, I can say with certainty that the experience of the engagement shoot is enjoyed by all. I keep things light and fun with no horrid posing so there is nothing to fear.
The location is important but not as much as you might think. Certainly it is lovely to go somewhere that is meaningful to you – perhaps a park or even the location of your proposal or a lovely walk that you enjoy doing together. However, many of the photos on the shoot will be portraits of the two of you and as such quite close-up. While the photographer will take more environmental / wider angle shots at your direction e.g. if a building or landmark is important to you, it is very likely that the photo you will choose for your framed signing board will be a lovely portrait of the two of you quite close up.
Time of year
Another important consideration, perhaps you are getting married in the summer and want a contrasting winter or autumn background, or you are booking more than a year in advance and want to have the shoot at the same time of year as your wedding day. In all cases with this being the UK the weather on the day will be a factor so be prepared for wet weather or be able to re-arrange which could be a real issue if you are travelling far for the photoshoot. I would suggest a call to your photographer a couple of days before the shoot when the weather forecast is more certain and plan from there. At the time of writing we have snow forecast for the weekend so I am now in touch with one of my couples who have requested a pre-wedding shoot in the local woods with snowfall if possible.
What to wear
Casual, formal, smart casual (whatever that really is) my advice would be to wear what you feel happiest in. Your wedding day will be formal so why not try a little more casual for the engagement shoot? The only thing I would try to avoid would be large logos on tops which can detract and also date the images. On the whole just wear what you feel happy in and then just co-ordinate slightly between you so there are not too many contrasting colours.
Why not? Balloons, engagement rings, proposal boxes, silk ribbons, horses, dogs, picture frames, wellington boots have all featured in my engagement shoots in the past.
Start with the end in mind
Do think a little about what you expect of the finished result – if this is going to be a signing board for your wedding then a lovely portrait of the two of you surrounded by your guests best wishes from the day can make a lovely keep sake. However you may want to have a framed print for the wall instead or a little art book of photos from the day – anything is possible these days so if you have something in mind please discuss with your photographer beforehand.
Signing board or guestbook
Signing boards do go down very well and are a great talking point with guests on the day who can leave you little messages or simply sign their name. You may non the less have your heart set on a guest book – why not incorporate some of the photos from the engagement shoot in the guestbook? Or go for the framed print option instead. One piece of key advice to give you regarding the signing board is for your guests not to scribble out any mistakes – nothing looks worse (and I have seen it) than a board full of best wishes and then a scribbled out phrase – please ask your guests to be careful when signing the signing board 🙂
Pets & children
Definitely bring along your pet, especially if we are doing a country walk type shoot, you can get some great shots with your dogs. I would always encourage you to bring your children along as well should you have them but would work to get some close up shots of just the two of you as well as the family shots.
Colour or black and white
In most cases you photographer will give you a mixture of black and white and colour images from your pre-shoot. Both look great as signing boards and I would say on the whole I produce slightly more black and white boards than colour but there isn’t much in it to be honest – go with whatever image is your favourite.
Have it reflect who you are not something false or posed
Many people have a dislike of being photographed – myself included – that is why I always aim to keep the session fun, light hearted and natural. Many times I’ll ask you to just walk together and chat or hold each other and have a chat and a laugh – natural shots beat false posed shots every time. If you find your photographer is posing you to the point where is feels false or uncomfortable then let them know that you’d like to try something else.
Enough said, I promise you that the experience will be a lot more fun than you expect and you’ll come away with a better relationship with your photographer as well as understanding better what you’ll be asked to do on the wedding day. It normally takes about an hour to do the shoot but quite a bit of that will be walking and chatting about your plans interspersed with taking photos.
Learn from the results
On occasion the pre-wedding shoot will lead to discussion on what style you prefer. For example you may feel the walking hand in hand shots are just your thing but are not so happy with a portrait kiss. I would always ask the couple to kiss for a shot or two but in actuality I’m looking for the moment before or just after the kiss rather than the kissing shot itself. If you don’t like a particular type of shot just let the photographer know so that they can be aware of the types of shot to go for on your wedding day.
In summary this is a session that all should enjoy, it gives both the couple and the photographer something extra that they wouldn’t necessarily have if meeting for the first time on the wedding day – a closer bond and experience of each other.
With my engagement sessions I deliver the photographs via an online web gallery within about a week, you then have as much time as you like to select the image for your signing board or to be framed. You also get to download and share all of the photos from the session for printing, social media and with friends and family.
Oh and to everyone who is planning a wedding can I offer you one last piece of advice? enjoy the planning, make time to do the planning and the many wedding tasks, treat them as treats to be enjoyed not to do lists to be endured and squabble over – talk, enjoy, relax and have fun! and celebrate each new task being completed along the way
I photograph weddings full time in Gloucestershire, the Cotswolds and across the UK and would be delighted to hear more about your plans for your wedding day. Please contact me here to discuss your wedding plans.
With love and best wishes Paul @ the lemon house x