pre-wedding shoot: the ultimate guide

We all know what a pre-wedding shoot is. A photoshoot that happens before the wedding, yes. But apart from the obvious, what do you really need to know about it?

top reasons to have a pre-wedding shoot

Pre-wedding shoots (or engagement sessions) have evolved so much over the years. From quick and simple photo sessions to full-blown destination editorials, you name it. For most couples, it’s all about marking the occasion and celebrating an important relationship milestone. And for some, a perfect excuse to don those new designer outfits. You can make it whatever you want it to be.

MARK A RELATIONSHIP MILESTONE. A pre-wedding shoot is a great way to celebrate your engagement. Whether you’ve been together for a decade or a few years, your engagement will be a major relationship milestone. It’s also a special occasion not just for you, but also for your families. So why not have a photoshoot to remember this special time in your life?

HELP WITH WEDDING PLANNING. Your pre-wedding photos are not just for storing in your hard drives. There are many ways you can use your photos to help with your wedding planning. Announce your engagement on social media, print your photos for your save-the-dates, or jazz up your wedding website. When you’re lost for words from all the wedding planning excitement, let your pre-wedding photos do the talking.

BOND WITH YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER. Ah, my favourite! Pre-wedding shoots are the best way to make you feel at ease in front of the camera. If you’re not used to being photographed, then this will help you feel less awkward. Remember, your wedding photographer is the person you’ll spend the most time with on your wedding day. So why not take this chance to see what it’s like having them around? Think of it as a trial run, a sort of practice before your big day. What you’ll learn from each other during your pre-wedding shoot will greatly help both of you on your wedding day.

HAVE A FUN DAY (OR DAYS) OUT. Wedding planning can be stressful. So, before you dive into your Pinterest boards, make sure you take some time to relax and celebrate with each other. Have a fun day out and get your photos taken. And if you’re up for it, glam it up by wearing something fancy and go for a more editorial style (the kind that makes you look like you’re straight out of a magazine). You don’t often get a chance to be photographed wearing that Marchesa tulle dress you like so much! It can also be a perfect excuse for a weekend getaway. Why not choose a destination pre-wedding shoot? Consider going to a place that means something to you. Perhaps the chateau where he proposed or the country where you first traveled together as a couple.

the best time to have a pre-wedding shoot

There really isn’t a best time. You can choose to have your pre-wedding photos taken as soon as you get engaged to mark the occasion. Or you can leave it until a few weeks before your wedding so you can have your last photos together as an unmarried couple. It really depends on the reason why you’re having your pre-wedding photos taken. In fact, some of my clients have even decided to have their photoshoot after their wedding. Want to see what that was like?



how much does it cost?

It depends. On a lot of factors. Is it going to be a simple and quick pre-wedding shoot at a nearby location or is it going to be a 3-day editorial shoot in Paris? Will you hire an inexperienced or a professional photographer? Would you need a hair and make-up artist to complete your look? Will the shoot require your pre-wedding shoot team (photographer, hair, and make-up artist) to travel far to the shoot location?

Just like wedding photography, there’s also a big price range when it comes to pre-wedding shoots depending on the combination of factors you choose. My advice is to figure out what’s most important to you before deciding what type of pre-wedding shoot works and which photographer to go with. Set a budget you feel comfortable with but don’t base your decision entirely on price.

the do’s and dont’s

DO: CHOOSE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER WISELY. Go with a photographer who can make you feel safe and comfortable. It’s worth setting up a video call or meeting up with your potential photographer first to see how well you get along. You can have the most perfect hair and make-up and the fanciest dress put together by the best stylist. But if you don’t feel at ease with that person holding the camera, you’re not going to look good in your photos.

DO: CONSULT YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER. Choose a meaningful location for your shoot but make sure you consult with your photographer as well. Ask for location suggestions if you must. Your photographer is in the best position to tell you whether a certain location will work for the look you’re going for. Your photographer has probably already done a photo session in the same location so could also advise on the best time to have your shoot. This is important especially if you’re hoping to have it in a touristy place or a location with tricky lighting.

DO: ARRIVE ON TIME. Arriving on time will help you get rid of the nerves. You’ll have time to relax and prepare yourself before the shoot starts. You’ll also have extra time to have a chat with your photographer so you can feel more comfortable around them. Photographers schedule photo shoots at a time when lighting is at its best. So, arriving late means you might miss out on some photo opportunities once that ideal lighting is gone.

DON’T: FORGET THE PERMIT. There are many beautiful parks and photography spots. But bear in mind that some locations are privately-owned and can charge fees. In London for example, most footpaths and areas surrounding the tourist attractions are public. However, some are private properties that only allow public access. The royal parks and some of the most popular locations require permits for filming and commercial photography activities. If this is where you want your London pre-wedding shoot, let your photographer know in advance if you need their help in applying for a permit. Permits aren’t normally included in pre-wedding shoot fees and will be charged separately.

DON’T: GO OVERBOARD. Themed pre-wedding shoots can be fun but don’t forget to be yourself. If you decide to be more adventurous, stick to something that still feels “you”. You’ll want pre-wedding photos that aren’t just fancy. You’ll want the photos to also tell your unique love story.

DON’T: DISREGARD COMFORT OVER FASHION. Only wear clothes that make you feel comfortable. This is important if you want to have natural-looking photos and an enjoyable experience. Go for clothing that lets you move freely. If you’re thinking of wearing a new piece of clothing, do a trial run at least the day before so you’ll know if it won’t work. Here’s a tip: If you can’t sit comfortably in it, don’t wear it.


choosing the location of your pre-wedding shoot

The location of your pre-wedding shoot sets the scene and the mood for your photos. My personal favourites are manicured gardens, quiet estates, or a beautiful local park early in the morning. They provide a calm environment that can make you feel safe. Plus, they look beautiful in photos. But with so many options, choosing only one (or two) can get overwhelming. So, to help you figure this out, here are some of my top tips.

FIND A PRE-WEDDING SHOOT LOCATION THAT SUITS YOU. Your environment plays a part in how safe and comfortable you feel during your pre-wedding shoot. If you’re too shy to be around many people, a quiet park is a good place to start. If you both love traveling, a destination pre-wedding shoot to your favourite country might be a good idea.

CHOOSE A MEANINGFUL PLACE. Sometimes, the best locations are the ones that mean something to you and play a part in your story as a couple. Think about your favourite cafe or a local place where you hang out often. When you look back on your photos, you won’t just see pretty photos but you’ll also remember the fun times you both had.

THINK ABOUT THE AESTHETIC. Locations with a clean aesthetic (plain backgrounds and lots of natural light) are the most “photogenic” locations. They create a timeless backdrop that will make your photos look classy and elegant.

CONSIDER THE DISTANCE. If you’ve chosen to have your pre-wedding shoot in more than one location, ensure that you’ve considered the time it takes to get from one place to the other. Check with your photographer whether getting from one location to the other is already included in the number of hours you paid for.

CONSIDER THE TIME OF YEAR. Locations can change depending on the time of year so make sure you’ve considered this especially if you’re going for a certain look or feel. If you’re hoping to have cherry blossoms in your photos, then spring is the best time to have your pre-wedding shoot at a local park. If you’re looking to have rich colours in your backdrop, then autumn might be the best time.

top tips for your pre-wedding shoot

KEEP IT SPARKLY. Your engagement ring will have its own moment during your pre-wedding shoot so prepare it for close-ups. If it’s looking a bit dull, give it a clean or have a professional do it for you.

NAIL IT. Chipped, dirty, and unkempt nails won’t look good near your sparkly engagement ring. Keep your nails clean or get a manicure done. If you have to, choose a clear/neutral shade of nail polish.

WRINKLE AWAY. Wrinkled or creased outfits (or accessories like a scarf or a tie) will ruin your look. Steam or iron your outfits so you can look elegant and polished. You can also bring a wrinkle remover spray to freshen up your clothes before your pre-wedding shoot.

EMPTY YOUR POCKETS. Put your wallet, car keys, mobile phone, spare change, etc, in a bag. Bulging pockets stretch your clothes and make your legs look strange and lumpy.

ALWAYS BE PREPARED. Heels are great for making your legs look longer. However, if you’re not used to wearing them, you’ll have difficulty during your pre-wedding shoot. If you know you’ll be walking around, make sure you bring an extra pair of flats.

SKIP THE TAN. Now isn’t the time to try that fake summer glow. Spray tanning, if incorrectly done, will make your skin look weird and orange – especially if applied within a few days before your pre-wedding shoot. If you really have to, make sure you have it professionally done a week before, and remember to choose a light and natural shade.

DRESS TO IMPRESS. For women, long flowy dresses look best in photos. They’re also more comfortable and will allow you to move more freely so you can pose more naturally. For men, a dress shirt paired with trousers (or a suit, if you fancy it) will always look timeless and stylish.


GLAM UP. Getting your hair and make-up done professionally levels up the imagery from your pre-wedding shoot. This can help you feel a little more done up and for some people, it can also help with confidence.

ACCESSORISE. Props and accessories when used in moderation, can help make your photos look nicer and bring out your personality. The best props are the easiest to carry like a beautiful bouquet of seasonal flowers.

And finally, HAVE FUN! Relax, trust your photographer and enjoy your pre-wedding shoot!

book your pre-wedding shoot

Thinking of having your own pre-wedding shoot?
Get in touch to check my availability. I’d love to hear from you!

Cristina x

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