I’m often asked by my couples if they should have an engagement shoot and my answer is always the same… Yes! I absolutely love pre-wedding shoots and I recommend them to all my couples. The idea of a couples shoot may not be for everyone. As someone who doesn’t love having their photo taken I can relate, but trust me, it’s worth jumping out of your comfort zone for. If you’re on the fence about this one, here are a few of the benefits of booking an engagement shoot.

A couple laughing as they walk in the woods on their engagement shoot
A black and white photo of a couple Kissing on the beach on an engagement shoot
A couple holding hands in some golden sunlight during their engagement shoot

What is an engagement/pre-wedding shoot

An engagement or pre-wedding shoot is basically a couples photoshoot which happens before the wedding day. They usually take between 1-2 hours and generally take place at the wedding venue or a place of personal significance. Often a shoot is simply a nice walk together with some photos taken throughout. Sometime couples bring their dogs along and often the shoot is incorporated into a date like activity such as a trip to the funfair or a romantic sunset walk on the beach.

Are engagement shoots essential? No… Are they worth it? Absolutely… Here’s just a few of the reasons why.

1. We’ll get to know each other

One of my favourite things about a pre-wedding shoot is that it gives me the chance to get to know a couple and for them to get to know me. This is great in itself but also makes a huge difference come the big day. Spending a bit of time with each other and taking some photos just makes everything overall more relaxed and natural on the wedding day. Couples spend a lot of time with their photographer on their wedding day so breaking the ice and hanging out beforehand just makes everything easier. It’s more like having a friend photograph your wedding then a stranger.

2. You’ll feel more relaxed and know what to expect

Meeting for a coffee or a beer to chat about the big day is great but getting a glimpse into how a photographer works means you’ll know what to expect. This is a huge advantage as you will already have an idea of how the photographer operates. This will make everything more seamless, natural and more relaxed. It’s also great for the photographer as they will have a better understanding of how to work with you as a couple to get the best possible photos that are personal to you.

3. Engagement shoots are really really fun!

The thought of having your photo taken may not be for everyone but couples shoots are actually really fun! I can’t tell you how often couples tell me how much they enjoyed themselves after having a shoot and I always enjoy them too! It’s not everyday you have a photoshoot and when couples embrace it and go with the flow it’s amazing how quickly any initial apprehension vanishes. If I was reading this I’d be raising my eyebrows too, but trust me they’re an absolute blast!

4. We can chat about your big day

It’s another opportunity to chat about the biggest day of your life! I love hearing about wedding plans. The more detail the better. As well as capturing some amazing photos I like to hear a couples plans and sometimes offer my insights. I’ve been to a lot of weddings so I have a good idea of how they run and what may or may not work. Often couples only chat about their wedding plans to each other, so it’s great to talk about it and offer any advice or suggestions I can. It’s amazing how having a deeper insight into a couple and their wedding can inspire the wedding photos that are created on the day.

5. We’ll capture more of your story

Having some photos of the two of you in a more day to day setting tells more of your story. Weddings are brilliant to photograph, but they’re just one day and don’t necessarily reflect you entirely as a couple. Pre-wedding shoots can be more fun and personal. Do you like walks on the beach with your dog? Camping in the woods and cooking on a fire? trips to the cinema and a drive-through? is there a particular spot where you both met or used to go? I’m down for anything and capturing beautiful photos which are super personal and typically you or ‘us’ is what it’s all about.

6. Engagement shoots are good ‘practice’ for your big day

Most people haven’t had their portrait taken, particularly as a couple, so getting a feel of being in front of the camera is great practice for the big day. Similarly to knowing what to expect this allows you be a bit more relaxed and natural whilst being photographed which always makes for better portraits. Don’t get me wrong the majority of photos I take at a wedding are natural and candid but when a couple has been prompted to have their portrait taken before it always comes more naturally. Couples may even become familiar with certain prompts, poses or shots and know exactly what to do!

7. You can use the photos for your wedding invites, guest book, programs etc

I’ve barely mentioned the fact that you’ll get some beautiful keepsake photos and these can be used for the wedding itself. They could be used on invites, the guestbook, table centrepieces, the wedding website or any other wedding related stationary. This would make a great change from another selfie and could really raise the game.

Should you book an engagement shoot?It’s upto you!

As I said before, engagement shoots aren’t a necessity, they’re an option. I’ve shot many weddings where the couple hasn’t had one and the photos have come out great. But there are some great benefits of a pre-wedding shoot to both the couple and the photographer and if you’ve thought about booking one I’d say go for it! If all my wedding couples booked an engagement shoot I’d be a happy photographer, I love them!

Want to see more photos from a recent engagement shoot? Click here for Laura & Jake’s.

A couple hugging on a windswept beach