Picture Perfect Moments: Tips for a Pre-Wedding Photoshoot
Pre-wedding photo shoots offer the perfect way to celebrate your romance without the stress and strain of the big day. While they’re not a replacement for the traditional Big Day photography, they make for a beautiful momento of love and a nice way to celebrate your journey to the altar. Love and Lavender have some tips and tricks for pre-wedding shoots every bride-to-be should know.
What Is a Pre-Wedding Photo Shoot?
Pre-wedding photo shoot is a photography session that takes place 3 to 6 months before a couple’s wedding day. The main purpose of a pre-wedding photography session is to get comfortable in front of the camera, learn to pose, create beautiful memories, and get romantic images that can be used in many different ways.
Think of the pre-wedding session as an intimate icebreaker between the happy couple, and the wedding photographer.
If that sounds like an engagement shoot, you’re not wrong! An engagement shoot is a type of pre-wedding shoot. However, it is becoming more common to separate them. The engagement shoot is usually about the ring. The pre-wedding shoot is more about the romance and getting ready for the big day.
As well as testing the photographer, of course! For this style of shoot, it’s typical to opt for a special outfit but not your wedding attire. But all couples are different, and there’s no hard and fast rule.
In the Philippines, they call it a ‘prenup shoot,’ and they’ve caught the rather endearing digital name ‘pre-wedding click’ in parts of India and South Asia. Pre-wedding shoots in Asia, Russia, and Eastern Europe are much lengthier affairs that stretch over weeks and multiple events. The wardrobe may be the same as the engagement shoot, the wedding attire, or traditional wedding garb, couple-dependant.
Some couples have taken the trend a little further and are taking official ‘wedding’ pics before the wedding. This is a great way to get around being tired, busy, and distracted on your wedding day, but not quite the traditional ‘pre-wedding’ shoot.
No matter what tradition you’re from, it’s a fun, slightly flirty, deeply romantic way to celebrate your coming life together, free of focus on the ring or the day- just you two in the spotlight.
Here are a few examples of prewedding sessions:
After the Rain Floral Styled Shoot in Seattle
How Much Should You Pay for a Pre-Wedding Photoshoot?
What you pay for a pre-wedding shoot is less about the shoot itself than the photographer and the fine details. On average, however, the Western-style pre-wedding shoot costs $200-$500.
This typically covers 1-2 hours, 1 outfit, and probably 1 location (possibly 2 quick ones). Several things will influence the price:
- If you’ve opted for a very respected and in-demand photographer, it will cost a little more for the ‘brand.’
- If you want more time, outfits, or locations, expect to pay extra.
- If your location requires a lot of driving for the photographer, there will be travel costs. Typically photographers have a ‘home radius’ within which travel is free, then a price per mile for distant locations.
- If you’ve picked an exotic location, you may need to travel yourself, get permits, or to rent the area for the time, which can push up the cost.
- Special prints, canvas printing, lookbooks, and other sentimental pieces will be priced as add-ons to the digital reel you receive.
- If you want a lot of retouching (‘photoshopping’), expect to pay more for the post-edit time.
These shoots can simply be you, your love, the photographer, their camera, and some basic equipment they’ll bring along for location shoots (think reflection rings, maybe some basic lights, and lenses). Of course, this can go as wild as you’d like- we’ve seen people use drones and more to get the perfect shot!
But expect that to need some extra bucks, equipment, and expertise. Discuss your expectations before the shoot to ensure you’re on the same page.
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to shell out for a pro photographer. Though we recommend it just for the long-term value if you can! If you just want some beautiful photos to cherish a special memory, you can enlist a friend and a great camera- especially now, so many phones offer top-end photography.
Here you’ll have much more time to experiment and lower costs. But you may not get the same quality of expertise in posing and relaxing, or in capturing the mood, as with a pro. You also won’t have access to fancier equipment. So it’s up to you.
Locations for a Pre-Wedding Photoshoot
Unlike on-the-day wedding photography, a pre-wedding photoshoot is less about capturing the event and the milestone moment than celebrating your love for each other. So ideally, you want to pick a location that really brings out that sense of what makes you two uniquely you and what matters to you. So the world is your oyster!
But let’s get some practical considerations out of the way:
- Wherever you choose, make sure you’re allowed to be there, and it is safe for you! Remember, cameras are valuable equipment, and you mean even more!
- Make sure it is accessible to everyone, and think about the equipment and whether it can be brought to the place.
- Consider your outfits and the setting (that goes double if it’s your wedding gear): Your local lake may look romantic, but you don’t want to drag your best little black dress through duck poop accidentally!
- Check the weather. The best thing about a pre-wedding shoot is it isn’t tied to a specific day like your wedding. So choose a beautiful season that appeals to you when you can trust the weather.
- Skip the stunts, amp up the romance. Don’t blow your pre-wedding shoot trying to make the next viral video. Rather unplug from the FOMO and do this in a way that’s uniquely you. Believe us, it will mean more in the long run!
Now onto the fun stuff! Pre-wedding photo shoots are often shot outdoors, so the beauty of nature can amp up the vibes. There’s nothing quite like natural light, especially the magical dawn and dusk light, to make for a beautiful photo. What vibes you want, however, is up to you.
What makes the two of you so fantastic together? What do you love? If you’re a grunge-punk couple, the idea of a passionate embrace in front of that oh-so-artful urban graffiti might send good tingles down your spine. A pair of devout divers may want a beach-and-surf location with sand dunes.
Perhaps you both adore fine wine, and there’s nothing more beautiful to you than a flourishing vineyard. You get the idea. Don’t feel confined to ‘local beauty spots.’ Pick a destination that brings out the special side of your romance.
Of course, you may want to memorialize a special moment with your shoot, too. Perhaps your shared home was bought together with that special garden you love, the first place you met, your favorite hangout- somewhere special to you.
You can also opt for an indoor shoot, either at a venue or in-studio. Indoor shoots can be more reliable (no weather inside) but may lead to conflicts with other people using the space if it is public. Studio shots are a little formal for this one (maybe save it for a wedding photo booth), but it’s your shoot- do it your way!
If you’re really stumped, chat your location over with your photographer. If they’re local, they probably know some fantastic hidden locations to share.
Activities for Pre-Wedding Photoshoot
Building on the idea of creating a ‘scene’ that’s intimate to your romance, you can consider making an event of it- quite literally! For shy people or those unused to posing for a camera, this also has another benefit. Your mind will be off the shoot and on what you’re doing. It’s a beautiful way to capture moments that are uniquely you and get candid shots you won’t get just posing.
There’s a ton of stuff to consider that would make for fun, quirky shots. A loving picnic-for-two. Playing board games with your sweetie. Frolicking with your puppers or little ones. Sending a paper plane of romantic notes at each other. Reading in front of a romantic fireplace. Sipping wine together outside.
Again, there’s literally no wrong way to do this, so let your imagination go wild! What brings you two together?
The only thing we’d suggest reconsidering is releasing balloons outdoors (a choking hazard for animals) and fire (unless you can control the location, there’s a really big risk of things going wrong). If you’re in love with confetti, you can consider natural alternatives (punched leaves, rice, biodegradable confetti) to get your shot.
Tips for the Best Pre-Wedding Photoshoot Poses
The art of romantic photography is in the poses. A great photographer will be able to guide you to look your best, but it pays to be prepared! Not only will having some idea of what you want help you and the photographer, but it will also relax you and leave you feeling more confident. Here are some tips to help:
- Have fun on Pinterest tracking poses you love. Not only will you be inspired, but having a physical example to show the photographer of poses you’re in love with will help them help you recreate them.
- Have a ‘shot list.’ Nail down 10 or so can’t-miss poses and write them down (even if it is in an app) so you don’t freeze up on the day and go blank.
- Trust the photographer. Guide them for your favorites and can’t-miss shots, but don’t feel the need to micromanage. They have a lot of experience posing people, even shy or awkward ones, so let that work for you. The less you stress, the better.
- Be candid! Forced smiles and happy smiles are worlds apart. This is where an activity shoot really shines. But even if you’re posing, get in the mood and enjoy it!
What poses are in? What screams romance? What if you’re the playful type? Let’s talk about some classic poses you can consider.
- For Romance: You can’t beat up-close-and-personal candid shots for romance. A tender hug, a gentle kiss on the forehead. A lady perched on tippy toes to peck her man’s cheek. Tuck your hands in his pockets. A shower of petals. The classic ‘lead the way’ and ‘follow me’ poses that have blown up on social media. From a light touch to an embrace, get close, personal, and gentle with each other. Fix her hair, or simply gaze lovingly at each other.
- For Playfulness: Let your inner child out to play. Give each other a piggyback ride. Goof around together. The lady spinning in a long skirt as her love looks on. Lift each other. Do something zany, like pushups leaning on each other. Jump for joy, or sit in his lap. Let joy and exuberance escape from you.
Of course, there are a lot more moods (and a million more poses) than just these! So get inspired and find the mood that vibes with you.
Should You Upload Your Pre-Wedding Photoshoot Pictures to Social Media?
Social media is part of our modern lives, and we’re used to uploading every little thing online. Whether you make your pre-wedding shoot one of those is mostly up to you. If you do share, make sure it isn’t just a close-up of the bling, whether from a strict engagement shoot or a separate pre-wedding one.
It says nothing about you two and your special moment and looks very shallow. Likewise, we’d probably avoid it if you go the route of using your actual wedding clothes.
We’d say uploading a few fun snaps from your pre-wedding shoot can be done tastefully, but skip loading the whole album and blocking people’s feeds for weeks. If you’d rather skip social media altogether, you can use your favorite pic next to your wedding sign-in book.
If you’re using a polaroid guest book idea, you can even use a few snaps to visually guide guests as to what you need them to do. They can also be used on the wedding invites in lieu of traditional engagement photos if you’d rather.
A pre-wedding shoot is a great way to test your confidence in front of the camera and get to know your photographer, too. And who can say no to some beautiful professional shots celebrating your romance?
There’s no real right or wrong way to pull off a pre-wedding shoot, so take this opportunity to celebrate the special bond between you and cherish the memories forever.
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