What are the benefits and advantages of having a shoot before your wedding? – Sometimes called an engagement shoot or even a practice shoot!
What is a Pre-Wedding Shoot Anyway?
Different photographers call them different things, but on the whole they all mean a photo session with the couple outside their wedding day. This is usually done before the wedding and sometimes just as the couple are engaged and they use the images to announce the good news, but they can on occasion be done after the wedding and we will touch on a post-wedding shoot at the end.
Because it is actually fun, honest.
I know. It doesn’t sound like it would be to most people does it? Going out for no actual reason to have someone you barely know point a camera at your face?
I promise that it is, it really is. Even when couples (or one of a couple) are extremely nervous or really dislike having their picture taken, we always end up laughing and joking our way through the shoot. The initial awkwardness is soon overtaken by the enjoyable moments that we create, on occasion, we genuinely have to pause shooting whilst we all fall about in laughing fits.
“I cannot believe how much we enjoyed this session with you Esmé! We were dreading it a little in all honesty and both felt so nervous! But we had so much fun with you, both our bellies hurt from all the laughing and we cannot wait to see the pictures!!!” – Ellie and Graham
To help alleviate worries
This isn’t too different from the above point, but is worth mentioning as some people are very afraid of having their picture taken. They really, really do not enjoy it and the thought of having a photographer with you all day on your wedding may see a little overwhelming and cause some anxiety. The pre-wedding shoot is my chance to show you that you have nothing to worry about, it’s my chance to show you what my camera and I can actually do! So much of my job is actually observing my clients and couples, I watch them to see the best angles and their most ‘them’ features, its always these things that I am looking for and by doing a pre-wedding shoot, I can get a lot of practice before the big day.
Please let me know if photographs make you feel any anxiety, we can work together to help to alleviate any worries that you may have, utter bonus if anyone starts to feel better about themselves throughout the process!
“Ah, we’ve just looked through and love them! I cannot believe how nervous I was before this session, I didn’t tell you but I felt really sick on the drive over. Then we enjoyed it, but I was still dreading seeing them. I think we actually like every single one!” – Jemma and Sarah
We all get to know each other a little
I can be formal when it is required of me, but it’s not my nature. I love getting to know my couples better on these no-pressure photo sessions! We are usually somewhere fabulous, with all of the time that we need and it gives so much freedom to these sessions. We often time the shoot with the pre-wedding meeting for the convenience of my couples, which is when we go through the timing and details of a wedding thoroughly together. I don’t think a pre-wedding shoot is essential, but possibly for this reason above any other, I do, personally think I get slightly better images on the wedding day if we have done a pre-wedding shoot beforehand.
“We had a lovely time! It was so lovely to get to know you before the big day!” – Lisa and Anthony
You can involve the family
Well, perhaps not extended, not really what I mean, but when the couple have children, I am always happy for them to come along to the pre-wedding shoot. Just like with the couple, it gives the children a chance to get to know me better (and me them), for them to relax and feel comfortable having their picture taken. This massively increases the chances that the kids will be up for photos on the wedding day, I have my own kids at home and with all of our portrait work that we do, I am pretty good at getting little ones on side!
If nothing else, a fantastic value way of getting some fresh family portraits!
Your four-legged friends
I love the gently worded emails that I sometimes get before a pre-wed shoot “umm, would it be ok if we can possibly bring our dog with us pretty please?”. I love it, because it is such an easy email to answer: YES! Any excuse to meet your four-legged friends will be welcomed by me, I love to include them in these photo sessions, after all they are part of the family. Sometimes couples have their dogs in attendance on the actual wedding day, but if your venue doesn’t allow this, having them in these photos can be a great way to include them instead. Of course if you can include your four-legged friend on your wedding day, check out this great info by the Dogs Trust on having dogs at your wedding.
Generally speaking, my packages often include a pre-wedding shoot because of all of the benefits they offer. These are local shoots and I have many stunning local locations that we can head to at almost every time of the year. I recce my area with my expeditions with my own dog to find secretive and stunning spots to capture the best images; bluebells, wildflowers, autumnal scenes, there is almost always something gorgeous to find in nature.
But you might want to do something special with your shoot? I have been asked before to to pre-wedding shoots where the proposal and engagement happened or at the place where the couple met at the start of their journey. Basically, if you have somewhere with personal ties that you would like included, feel free to get in touch with me here to discuss! If it is something unique that I haven’t done before, then I may well only ask for my travel expenses to be covered, so please feel free to ask – London, the Peak District, Paris or Amsterdam for the day?! Why not!
It helps with planning if required
I know a lot of venues locally and even national after 15 years in the industry, however, there are definetly many others that I have never been to. This is not something that worries me, in fact, I absolutely LOVE to go to new venues, finding new light, places and perspective for shots is absolutely wonderful and always inspiring. I usually recce this online before the day and by speaking to the wedding coordinator, however, on occasion my couples would like me to visit their venue with them and this is a service that I do offer.
This allows us to explore the venue together and talk about the flow of the day as well as allowing me to see what your favourite features of the venue are. Whilst we gather the information, we can also stop here and there to get your pictures done. It can be very useful, especially if you have particular concerns, however it is not something that I would say is essential.
“One of my big worries with our wedding photos was that (selfishly!) I wouldn’t photograph well – having a pre wedding shoot put my mind at ease completely! We had a really fun relaxed time and some beautiful photos to show for it! It also confirmed to us that Esmé was definitely the lady for the job!” – Lindsey and Nicholas
Using the pictures at the wedding
Obviously a natural side effect of having a preceding shoot done together is that you would then have a lot of lovely pictures of yourselves. You will soon have your wedding pictures to enjoy, but what will you do with all of these? Some of my couples have thought up amazing solutions for this and I have made a little list of some of my favourite uses:
-Using them to announce your engagement can be very cute
-Using pictures tastefully on invites can look really lovely and very personal
-Pictures from the pre-wedding shoot as canvasses or posters and used to decorate the venue
-You could use them to to accompany the table numbers on each table
-One couple used them as the design for cards for a special ‘wedding guest’ quiz that they had created
-You can have a personal signing book made for you from your images, tasteful and meaningful (but you may need to expect a couple of moustaches to appear).
I can help with any and all of these, so please let me know if you are thinking of including any in your wedding!
Just a few more to convince you….
“We had a pre wedding shoot with Esmé and it was so beneficial. It gives you a chance to get to know the photographer and for them to understand the types of pictures/poses you like and are comfortable with. It saves time on the day as everyone understands what they need to do. It really helped us feel more relaxed on the wedding day too as you know what to expect, especially if like us you are new or unfamiliar with having your picture taken!” – Amy and Will
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