If you're newly engaged, chances are some of your friends have asked "are you going to do an engagement photo shoot?"
The trend is relatively new to the UK, and much bigger in the US (isn't everything?), and may seem like an unnecessary expense to add onto your big day, but there are plenty of great reasons to do an engagement photoshoot, especially if you're a bit camera shy! And some photographers even include an engagement shoot as part of the photography package.
Read on for all the reasons an engagement photo shoot should be on your wedding to do list.
On the purely practical side, an engagement photo session is the ideal opportunity to ensure you look your best in your wedding pictures. Apart from the obligatory school photos, most of us won’t have had much, if any, experience of being photographed by a pro.
“If you’re nervous about being in front of the camera on the big day, having an engagement shoot is a great way to learn to relax while being photographed,” explains wedding photographer Anneli Marinovich. You can play around with your poses, getting a feel for which positions feel most natural and comfortable as a pair. “By the end of the shoot, you’ll know exactly what to expect at the wedding,” she says.
The likelihood is that you’ll use the photographer you’ve chosen for your wedding for your engagements shoots, too. That means this is also your chance to really get to know the person you’re trusting to capture the magic of the big day – which can only make you more relaxed.
Putting practicality aside, think of your engagement shoot as an extra celebration. Gone are the days when pre-wedding photo sessions involved stiff, cheesy poses in a studio. Now, it’s all about having fun – “Laughing and giggling are good!” says Anneli – and commemorating this special moment in your lives.
It’s all too easy to rush into planning as soon as you’ve said “yes”; this is an opportunity to slow down and simply enjoy being engaged.
To up the romance factor, lots of couples choose meaningful places as their backdrop – the restaurant where they had their first date, for example, or where the proposal took place.
The great outdoors also offers plenty of strike-a-pose possibilities. “The sky’s the limit when it comes to locations, whether it’s an urban space or a stroll through a forest,” says Anneli.
“I’ve even done engagement shoots abroad.” Just make sure you give your photographer an early heads-up about your chosen setting, so they have time to think through the logistics.
On-the-day timings are important – if your favourite spot is likely to get busy at particular moments (like a popular tourist attraction that’ll fill up by mid-morning), talk to your photographer about when’s best to get maximum privacy.
The light at different times of day can also be a factor. “Every photographer is different, but I always prefer arranging my shoots during the hour before sunset, which is known as the golden hour, when the light is soft,” says Anneli.
When it comes to choosing your looks, comfort is key, whether that means wearing your favourite jeans or that little-black-dress-and-heels combo that makes you feel amazing. You don’t need to match each other perfectly, but some co-ordination between your outfits in terms of style and colour will help your pictures pop.
“I create an ‘outfit inspiration’ Pinterest board, which I share with my couples a month or so before the shoot so they can see what works in terms of colours,” reveals Anneli. “I encourage my couples to be creative with accessories while staying true to their style. Very often, they’ll have two oufits for the shoot – one casual, and one more dressed-up and glamorous.”
Once you’ve got your beautiful, romantic, creative shots, the question remains: what do you do with them? A popular option is to use them for your save the dates.
If you do, make sure you schedule the shoot six to eight months ahead of your wedding day. (Engagement shoots usually take place at least a couple of months in advance.) You can also incorporate them into your wedding decor: have a large print made of your favourite shot and ask guests to sign it instead of a guestbook, for example.
Have fun with the pictures: turn them into stickers that you can use to personalise your favours; or have jigsaws made to keep little ones occupied.
If an engagement shoot doesn't send like your thing, what about a pre-wedding shoot? It's a different kettle of fish altogether...