What is a pre-wedding or engagement shoot?
A pre-wedding shoot, often referred to as an engagement shoot, is a photo shoot that usually takes place three to six months prior to the wedding day. Though pre-wedding shoots have become a necessity for most, a lot of couples have started debating on whether or not they should have one. Some couples think it's a waste of money and has no use at all. Well, on that case, they might be wrong.
An engagement shoot can actually help you in a few different ways. First, it helps you build a good rapport with your photographer, especially if you're hiring the same one to document your wedding day. You will feel more comfortable with your photographer and also get to know his or her shooting style. For your photographer, it's also the time to get to know more about you as a couple; your characters, how affectionate you are with each other, how formal or casual your styles are. This way, they can create suitable settings that will flatter the both of you during your pre-wedding shoot and wedding day.
Our friends from Terralogical said that pre-wedding photos benefit the couple as well. "Pre-wedding moments are romantic times for the couple. It isn't rare to see couples happily reminisce their initial chemistry and relive that spark during a shoot." In short, it's a great way to create everlasting memories.
What makes a great pre-wedding photo?
There are so many things that can help make great engagement pictures. For Terralogical, the greatness of an engagement album relies on two things. One is whether or not the pictures can tell the couples' story and the other is how emotions are captured by the lens. "Pictures have to tell something; who they are, how they began, or where they're going as a couple. If the two are hikers, then it would be great to have a mountainous backdrop gracing the shoot." Above all, it is the captured emotions that bring all the goodness to the pictures.
Many creative couples and photographers have come up with countless pre-wedding concepts; so many that you will probably have trouble choosing one for yourself. Fret not; we'll take you through five of the most popular concepts, the kinds of couples that will suit them best, and how to execute them well.
First up is the traditional concept. The traditional concept is basically a concept in which you delve into the roots of your cultural heritage and display those cultural elements in your photos. This look is very suitable for those planning to have a traditional wedding celebration. Indonesian brides have an advantage, as Indonesia's cultural diversity is so vast and colorful in ways that look amazing in pictures.
If you wish to go traditional, pick a location that shows the antique vibes of the culture you've chosen to go with. For clothing, stick to traditional attire, of course, but keep it simple and sweet. Save the elaborate details for your wedding day. Ask your photographer for black-and-white or sepia-toned pictures that can bring out a more authentic feel to the pictures.
Choosing glamorous means it's time for fancy dresses and grand locations; basically showing as much class as possible through the pictures. Couples that go for this kind of photo shoot are most probably ones that enjoy elegance and sophistication above all else.
Wardrobe-wise, find gorgeous dresses that will create a statement in the pictures; either in classic black-and-white or in daring colors, the choice is yours. For the location, it would be great if you can have a shoot at an iconic landmark or somewhere with a very beautiful landscape. Showcase your stunning location and your dress for the ultimate glamorous feel.
The opposite of the glamorous is the casual concept. Unlike the glamorous that flaunts fancy dresses and locations, the casual tones it down and goes for a more modest approach. Couples have used different themes for their casual photo shoots; some reenact their first meeting, others showcase their hobbies or even what they did on their first date. Depending on the theme you choose, casual clothing is always a safe choice for this concept. You can wear a simple dress with your man in a shirt and shorts or any other clothing that fits the occasion. Just be sure that you don't look too pose-y and unnatural as it is a casual shoot, after all.
The indigenous is a concept that has just become popular in the past few years. It's actually like having your picture taken candidly as you go about your activities. Take this couple here, they decided to have the picnic concept, so what they did was have an actual picnic and trust the photographer to take pictures. If you're the type of couple that doesn't like to pose in front of the camera, this will be the perfect option. Just be natural and effortless and let the magic happen. However, you need to be very careful in choosing your photographer as not all photographers are experienced in taking candid pictures.
A thematic pre-wedding shoot is a shoot which has a specific theme that you and your partner have chosen together. You can choose a theme that evokes a general ambience like bohemian or vintage, or even something more specific, like the roaring 20s or a theme based on travel. For the location and wardrobe, cleverly adjust everything to go with the theme you've chosen. For instance, if you go with a western theme, do it in a ranch with you two dressed in folk-y attire. If it's vintage, then choose an antique setting and dress yourself accordingly for a complete old-world feel.
The Dos and Don'ts of Pre-Wedding Photography
As simple and effortless as they look, pre-wedding shoots are not that simple. There are a few things that you need to consider and pay attention to before the shoot even takes place. Study these dos and don'ts carefully to help you prepare the perfect shoot.
Do: your research
First and foremost, the most important step of all is to do your research. On what? On everything related to the shoot - like location, wardrobe, and especially your photographer and concept. First is the concept. Make sure that you've decided on a concept and theme. See some samples of pre-wedding pictures and take note of the concepts you like, then determine the one you want for your own shoot. After choosing a concept, decide on a photographer. Find the photographer whose style and budget range suits yours and, most importantly, is capable of delivering the concept you've chosen. Make sure you choose the right person for the job.
Don't: go with an extremely different look
Don't let adrenaline rush drive you to make impulsive decisions regarding your looks, like having a sudden change with your hairstyle, hair color, or facial hair grooming. In your pictures, of course you want to look like no one else but you. These extreme decisions will make you look not quite like yourself in the pictures and you surely wouldn't want that.
Do: plan your concept carefully
It is very important to plan your shoot very carefully. Some couples want to spare the nitty-gritty and just go with whatever is trending. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just that the photos will come out as "just another engagement shoot" and not reflect you as a couple, let alone your personality. Also, plan the photo shoot session ahead to avoid unnecessary mistakes. Terralogical said that brides have ended up having trouble when bringing their glamorous gowns to a natural shooting setup. Planning ahead is very important, so please do so accordingly.
Don't: forget about your partner's wishes
This is what brides tend to forget. You're not the only one posing in the shoot; your partner is there with you. Make sure that your man is comfortable with the shoot and its whole concept and idea, as not everyone is comfortable having his pictures taken in such a fancy manner. Nothing is worse than a grumpy groom; imagine him refusing to pose and looking sour in every frame. You wouldn't want that. Always ask for his approval and if there's ever a concern, talk about it to reach a compromise.
Do: pick a suitable time for the shoot
Talking about time, there are two things you need to consider. The shoot itself has to be done at the right time, not too close to and not too far off from the wedding day. As the photographer will need time to edit the pictures, don't do it too close to the wedding. On the other hand, don't do the shoot too far off from the wedding date so your guests will also feel the excitement leading up to your wedding day.
On the day of your shoot, pick the perfect time of the day to do the shoot. You should always consult your photographer, especially if you're having an outdoor shoot. He or she will know what time frame produces the perfect light for your shoot, as it will determine the vibe and feel of the pictures. Don't forget to also pay attention to the weather and prepare accordingly, for example having umbrellas or sunscreen ready for an outdoor shoot will be spare you a lot of trouble.
Don't: disregard simple health and beauty tricks
Trust us, disregarding simple health and beauty tips will greatly affect how you look on your shooting day. Don't skip meals before and on the shooting day as engagement shoots require energy. You will need to supply yourself with food rather than starve yourself to look skinnier. The same applies to your water intake. Some brides avoid drinking too much water, worrying that she will look bloated. On the contrary, lack of water intake will affect your body and face's freshness, making you look dull and unhealthy. Also, don't go to sleep too late the night before so you can wake up on time with a beautiful glow.
Do: be prepared and come on time
On the designated day of the shoot, be prepared and come on time. It is important to come on time considering that you've made an appointment with the photographer. This is one of the most common mistakes according to Terralogical. "Some brides wish to have their pre-wedding at sunrise yet wake up late and miss the sunrise time frame." Coming on time will also make you feel more relaxed and calm, which will be great for the pictures. Don't forget to bring a mini emergency kit—a pouch with safety pins, makeup, hair pins, and a mini sewing kit—just in case.
Another tip from Terralogical is to be yourself. "That's the easiest thing you can do. Don't be someone you're not as it will look unnatural. It is our jobs to perfectly capture you in the images so don't try too hard."
Unique Pre-Wedding Location Ideas
Now here comes the fun part. We present you with a list of unique places you can consider as your pre-wedding locations. Yes, it all comes down to your theme and concept, but perhaps these lovely spots can get you inspired. Take a look.
Museums, monuments, and historical landmarks have their own beautiful charms that will illuminate your pre-wedding photo album, as having iconic places as backdrops can bring more life and different kinds of feelings to your pre-wedding pictures. The world-famous Louvre will add glamour and sophistication while the antique Kota Tua or the national museum will instill a vintage feel. Be reminded though that being in a place full of prized antique possessions means you have to be extra careful. Watch so that you don’t touch, or worse, broke the artifacts that are present in the location and don’t forget remind your photographer of the same thing. God forbid that his equipment tips over the precious vases of the Chinese dynasty.
For adventure-loving couples, this one will intrigue you. It’s never a dull idea to travel down to hidden steppes, valleys, caves, and islands in your country and have your pictures taken there. Your shoot will feel so exotic, rich, and beautiful thanks to the lovely natural scenery. Be sure to do a thorough research of the place you’re going to, though. You need to know for sure how to get there safely and how difficult the track is as your photographer will have to bring a lot of photo equipment.
Instead of venturing to far-away places, why not have your pre-wedding shoot in the comfort of your own home? It might not have as many scenic landscapes as the outside world, but it will feel a lot cozier for you as it is a familiar spot. Don't forget to make sure that you have enough space and light in your home to do this. Photographers need plenty of lighting and equipment so be sure you have enough space to accommodate the whole thing.
Imagine having your photos taken during a carousel ride or on top of a Ferris wheel. Wouldn’t that be lovely? Carnivals are filled with such wonderful colors that will liven up your pictures. If you’re going on a day carnival make sure that you have a makeup kit with you in case the sun and hot breeze messes it up. The night carnival has less heat but also less light so wear colored clothes to stand out from the background. This place is also great for the indigenous concept we covered earlier; you and your partner playing and having fun in the carnival as your photographer snaps away. Wonderful idea, don’t you think?
Next up is the safari. Animal lovers will rejoice for this place, as it makes pre-wedding shoots so much more special. You can take a stroll and have the photographers take your pictures like this couple here as they explore the safari with all its beauty. Make more effort to find a decent-looking safari though, as not all safaris are suitable for pre-wedding photo shoots. Also, carefully follow all warning posts when it comes to the animals. Don’t let your engagement shoot go wrong just because your curiosity gets the better of you as you decided to meddle with the wild animals.
Now for flower lovers, the flower fields will be a place you will think of as heaven. You can go to the vast lavender fields in Provence, or take a trip down the tulip gardens in Holland. These blooms will surely prettify your engagement shots with their lovely colors and you will certainly glow even more in the presence of so many flowers you love. Beware of insects and bees too so don’t forget to bring with you some anti-insect lotion or spray.
If you’re up for a remote outdoor location but aren't that adventurous to travel down to hidden hideouts, you can go to secluded forests, beach, or mountains for lovely landscape views. Remember to pick a time of day that gives you great light, and for beaches go at a time when there’s not that many people around. Better yet, find a location that’s not meant for tourists so you will be more relaxed in the shoot. Like any other locations, also bring sunscreen and makeup kit for retouch if your makeup gets messed up by the breeze, sweat, or water. Also, leave your high-heels at home and switch for the more sand-friendly footwear.
Next up is the market. We know it might sound crazy, but think of the lovely colors of the market gracing your pre-wedding pictures. Pulling off a great album will be quite tricky, though, as there will be a lot of people and passersby that will meddle with your photo shoot. As you’ll also be all dressed up, you might catch a lot of unwanted attention in a market. Just keep a confident attitude and pose away. Go there at the quietest time of the market like very early in the morning where there are not many people. You’ll get the lovely sunrise ray and also the advantage to have your photos taken without too many people glaring at you.
Last but not least is to take your photo on a train or a yacht. Vintage trains usually have beautiful interiors that are perfect for photo shoots. Yachts are also a fun idea; you can sail around the open sea in the sunshine and enjoy a silhouette photo of you taken at sunset like this couple here. Even so, remember that you have to dress comfortably for this one. Wearing high-heels are not recommended as you might have a bumpy trip, you don’t want to trip and fall because the heels.