Pre-Wedding and Engagement Photography Shoots

Pre-Wedding & Engagement Photography

You’ve probably heard of engagement photo shoots before, but what is a pre-wedding shoot? 

Well, quite simply, they’re one and the same. Mostly. 

They are both private photo sessions with a photographer between getting engaged and getting married.  The main distinction is usually the timing. An engagement shoot will most likely happen very close to getting engaged – maybe even as part of popping the question if you or your other half is particularly prepared.  Typically in my experience the shoot gets the ‘engagement’ prefix if it’s booked before your wedding photographer has been chosen. 

If you’ve booked you’re wedding photographer or the shoot is closer to your wedding date than your engagement then it usually gets called a pre-wedding shoot. 

When it all boils down to it, they both have the same objectives: get you great photos, help you become more comfortable in front of a lens, establish what type of images you want from your wedding, and to get to know the photographer better (and them you). 


Why Have A Pre-Wedding Shoot?

Lets look at those objectives in a little more detail. 

1. Get great photos

Having creative, beautiful photographs of you as a couple doesn’t need much selling. Who doesn’t want that? It commemorates the engagement and give its own record, gives you some unique options to use in the lead up to your wedding, like on the save the dates or invitations, or even on your wedding website. A popular option is to have a print on display at the reception for guests to sign, giving you something very personal to cherish bringing the pre-wedding shoot and wedding together. 

2. Help you become comfortable in front of the lens.

This can have multiple reasons behind it. First of all, you may genuinely be a little shy in front of the camera – and that’s perfectly OK! This is where your photographer can learn about your personality and how to get the most from your images. Great photographers work with all personality types from outgoing and bold to shy and quiet and they have experience working with those personality types and using that to your advantage to deliver some truly personal and special photographs. 

You may also be using the engagement session as a testing ground for a potential wedding photographer and how you feel during the shoot and about the photos they deliver can be a great gauge as to if you should book them for your wedding photography. 

3. Establish what type of photography you want on your wedding day.

This goal is symbiotic with objective 4, getting to know the photographer. Ideally you’ve chosen the photographer for your engagement or pre-wedding photography because you liked their portfolio. Maybe you found them on Instagram or you’ve checked out their website. Either way you should have seen a consistent style you liked. Either way, now is the time to chat with your photographer and to be clear on what you’re looking for at the wedding – light and bright images, dark and posed or maybe playful and relaxed – you can then experiment around that genre at the shoot and find what work best for you. Just bear in mind that your expectations should already be fairly in line with what you’ve seen the photographer show in their portfolio.

4. Get to know your photographer and let them get to know you.

It’s going to be your big day. The guy or girl with the big camera will be shadowing you most of the day and giving you alittle guidance here and there. You want to know that your personalities gel. You don’t have to be BFFs, but if you can spend an hour or two with them in a watered down version of the bridal portraits and you trust their instructions in the moment, then you’re probably good to go. 

The other side of the story is the photographer getting to know you. They’ll want to know more about you both as a couple, what your wedding will be like and probably discuss the venue and some ideas for the day. Those are good signs that they want to deliver a great experience for you and they have been round the track before so know what to expect which can help put you at ease too. 

Engagement & Pre-Wedding Photo Shoot Tips

So your photo shoot is booked and coming up. Do you need to do anything? 

1. Location

Where you choose to have your shoot is the single most important factor. If it’s in a studio, be sure to talk over the backdrops and themes of the studio rooms so that you can plan your outfit to suit but also to decide if that set up is best for you both. I prefer to shoot outdoors, in park, urban areas or around landmarks. It helps make every shoot different and pushes the photographer to be creative rather than just cycling through the same 15 poses time and again. I always recommend agreeing to a location that suits your style – and the time of year. Engagement and pre-wedding shoots are common in Winter and Spring outside of the main wedding seasons so you may want to lean into that for styling too. My best advice is to choose somewhere that means something to you both or that you really enjoy. Many opt for woodlands since there are fewer eyes to see you while some enjoy feeling like a celebrity as passers by wonder why you are having your photo taken. 

A great option is to opt for the pre-wedding photos to be at your venue and use it as a test run to find a few perfect spots.

One things to be aware of when choosing a location is that private property and some public buildings, especially landmarks may require a permit to conduct a professional photos shoot on the grounds. 

2. Styling and Outfits

Once you’ve chosen your location, the next step is what to wear.

This ones is easy. Just wear what you feel good in!. if you prefer casual, do that. Is dressing more formally where you own the room? Great! The only external factors to consider are the location and time of year.  If you’ve opted for an outdoor shoot in Winter, maybe lean into being snug as a bug with wool sweaters and scarfs. If it’s a beach shoot in the late spring then maybe opt for shorts or a skirt. 

When choosing both of your outfits, it’s best to coordinate rather than to match.  If you’re going for a red overcoat in winter maybe he doesn’t wear his bright red trainers. 

If you’re looking for inspiration, neutral colours and muted tones work in most situations and avoid taking attention away from your faces or casting a colour shadow on your skin. 

One point of note, probably more for men, is to keep your pockets clear as a smartphone or car keys in your front pocket can ruin the clean lines of an outfit. I’ve usually always got space in my bag to carry bulkier items for my couple.

3. Bring Your Personality

These type of shoots are fair game for doing something different. Talk with your photographer about ideas you may have or things you want to try. 

It may be you want to bring a change of clothes for a different feel for a few shots. You could bring your dogs along for the shoot if it’s somewhere they enjoy too. Maybe you have a hobby you’d like to incorporate for all or some of the shoot like. Whatever it may be talk it over with your photographer and don’t be afraid to try something out!

4. Time and Light

Different times of year offer different types of light. Sunrise can often be a little early, but sunrise is always a great time to built the shoot around. Of course in certain locations and weather conditions may not provide the beautiful sunset colours you’d hope for so make sure you choose a time that works for the season and weather expected.

5. Posing

Posing is another area that can cause a little stress before or during the shoot. This is where the photographer should be stepping in. Some are more hands on in giving direct instructions and some will give loose guidance on what to do. 

At the very least they will make sure you don’t have awkward hand placement and aren’t standing at unflattering angles. 

As the session develops, you’ll naturally relax and you’ll start to do the things the photographer suggested in the beginning. By the time the wedding rolls around you’ll be a natural and know what to do and expect. 

I hope these tips come in handy when you plan your engagement shoot and if you’re still looking for a great photographer to conduct your session, get in tough and we can create something special together.