During your journey as a wedding-phile, you may have come across photographers now offering couple shoots (or engagement shoots, or e-shoots) as either part of their wedding package or as an optional add-on. Even if photography is one of your highest wedding budget priorities, as it was for my fiancé and I at the time, you would be forgiven for thinking it unnecessary, and dismissing it as a self-indulgent waste of time or money. In fact, there are actually many reasons why this might be one of the most rewarding services you could avail yourselves of before the wedding – particularly if photography is important to you, and you want to make the most of your awesome photographer’s talents on the wedding day.
WHAT IS IT?
Couple shoots come in many shapes and sizes, and are often tailored to you – but generally, you can expect to spend a few hours wandering around a particular location with the photographer, and to receive anywhere from fifty to a few hundred edited digital photos in return. The session will be slow-paced, informal, and all about you. The photographer will follow you around, though he/she will probably remain mostly unseen, giving you minimal direction (usually in the form of gentle suggestions for you to interpret as you wish) and space to just be comfortable around one another.
WHERE SHOULD WE DO IT?
When it comes to choosing the location, you could opt for a place that has a profound meaning to you both as a couple, like a familiar neighbourhood you consider home, or a place that marked a special turning point for your relationship (a first date, a first I Love You, a proposal, and so on). Or you could simply choose somewhere with lovely views that reflects your identity as a couple in some way – an adventurous mountainscape, a twinkling city skyline, or a peaceful beachfront (a great excuse for a mini weekend break maybe?). Either way, make sure you choose somewhere where you know you will feel comfortable laughing, cuddling, and generally interacting easily with the space.
HOW DO WE PREPARE FOR IT?
The best thing about these photoshoots is that you only need to prepare for them if you want to. All you really need to bring is you, dressed in the outfit you wish you could wear every day, with the make-up that makes you feel best, and your favourite pair of shoes. If you have time to coordinate with your partner a little, than that’s great too – maybe discuss what kind of “look” or style you want to go for, what outfits suit (or awesomely contrast) the location, and whether there’s any complementary colours that you want to accent. You can get super creative with themes, activities, and props, if you like – and you can even plan to do the bride’s hair and make-up trial that day, for a preview of how the wedding look will show in pictures. Either way, don’t bring too much with you, don’t overthink it, and, most importantly, do let yourself get excited about this little mini adventure you’re doing together.
WHY SHOULD WE CONSIDER IT?
So, the hardest question – do we need it, and is it for us? Truthfully, the answer is no, you don’t need it, but you’ll absolutely not regret doing it; and yes, it’s for you. If your wedding photographer offers this type of photoshoot, spending the extra time with him or her will allow you to establish a relationship in a relaxed and fun way – rather than meeting them properly for the first time while you’re running around getting ready on the wedding day. Giving them a glimpse of what you and your fiancé are like together, naturally, and chatting to them about your lives, quirks, and worries will give them an even better chance of capturing YOU in the most genuine way possible when the wedding comes around. Another point to consider is that, unless you’re both experienced models (and even then!), this may be the first time you are photographed professionally together, and spending a few hours relaxing in front of the camera will do wonders for your confidence and natural posing. Eventually, you’ll forget the camera is even there, and you’ll love smiling for real – and then you’ll be able to use what you’ve learned when all cameras are pointed at you both on your wedding day. I’d also say this is one of the moments of your lives when you’ll be most excited, most full of love and hope, and where one of the biggest life-changing things is happening in the smallest window of time (happiness density, if you will). Though many more happy moments will come, this is one where you have a little bit of an excuse to capture all those emotions professionally. Not to mention, you’re likely to be increasingly busy, and, inevitably, de-prioritising the chill time during which you are at your best together – and breaking that routine by taking a few hours out of a day to walk around a beautiful place and do nothing but enjoy each other’s company will feel like a luxury, and a gift in and of itself. Finally, there’s a very practical reason to consider doing this: the photos will be awesome. Depending on the timing of the shoot (and the image rights clauses in your contract with the photographer – make sure you check!), you could use them for your save-the-dates, your wedding website, any of the on-the-day stationery decor, your guest book, your thank you cards, or maybe framed as gifts to friends and family – as well as of course printing your favourite for your own mantelpiece. And together you’ll look at it for years to come, and think – this is freedom, this is happiness, and this is all I need.
CAN I SEE AN EXAMPLE?
Why yes, yes you can! In fact, the reason I wanted to write a blog post about this is that my fiancé and I had such a WONDERFUL experience doing one of these photoshoots with our wedding photographer, and we couldn’t be happier that we decided to plan a trip around it. Not only did we have lots of fun, we were also really inspired by meeting our photographer (who we now refer to as a wizard of light), and came away quite emotional about just how many FEELS there are ♥ Not to mention we are in love with the photos and can’t stop looking at them!
Have a look at the gallery below for some of our favourite shots from our photoshoot with Ed Peers in the Dolomites, in Northern Italy. If you have any questions or concerns about doing an engagement shoot, or would like to discuss some ideas, get in touch!
If you want to brainstorm some ideas, or would like some help in organising the shoot, just get in touch ♡