What to expect from your engagement shoot

30 May 2018

All you need to know about engagement shoots and how to get the most out of the session

Image: By Asha Photography

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Image gallery

The engagement shoot has become a fundamental part of the pre-wedding activities, allowing the perfect opportunity to celebrate your happy news and capture your love before the big day. Many wedding photographers now offer the service, with many incorporating the engagement shoot into their wedding packages. Not only does this give you practice in front of the camera, but it also allows you to get to know your photographer and find familiarity in his/her working style.

Paul Stearman of Xpressions Wedding Photography, who is based in Norfolk but has covered weddings as far as Surrey, says: “I have photographed many engagement shoots. All of them have said how much they enjoyed themselves and that they loved their pictures, but most importantly they were totally relaxed with my presence at their wedding. The result… fantastic, natural pictures of those special moments.”

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Image: Xpressions Wedding Photography

Above all, the key to a successful engagement shoot is that the couple lets loose and has fun. Berkshire wedding photographer, Lisa Lucas, comments: “The best response I can receive is for a couple, who were rather nervous at the beginning of the shoot, come away saying that they had fun. When it continues to the day of the wedding, and they tell me how they should be standing because they remembered the engagement shoot, I've had a good day.”

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Image: Lisa Lucas

If you’re thinking of arranging an engagement shoot or if it has already been booked, here are the key questions and answers to prepare you.  

What happens during an engagement shoot?

The photographer will guide you through various poses and shots that put you at ease and perfectly display your love for one another. An engagement shoot should be relaxed, natural and fuss-free, so casual clothes that reflect your respective personalities will work well. 

Lauren, Jo and Sue Sanders at Our Pretty Wedding, which covers the East of England, advise: "Wear comfortable, casual clothes... whatever makes you feel nice. Pastel colours often make for a nice picture, but you have your own style so be who you are and not who your photographer tells you to be."

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Image: Our Pretty Wedding

You can even bring a change of outfit or props if desired... and most wedding photographers will accommodate pets too. 

Offering insight into how her engagement shoots play out, Arienne Jonas of AJ Feather Photography in Norfolk says: “We take a walk, chat, get to know each other and I get to hear more about the wedding day and the couple’s plans. This helps me know what you want from your day and how you want your images to feel. It helps me get to know the type of connection you have as a couple, which helps me to capture it.” 

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Image: AJ Feather Photography

What are the best locations for an engagement shoot?

From windswept hillsides to a place that is dear to your heart, the location of your engagement shoot will put your love story in to context. Choose somewhere that is personal to you as a couple, somewhere that has had a part to play in your romance.

Caroline White, who covers the whole of the UK as well as destination weddings, explains how her subjects settle on an appropriate location: “I always ask my brides and grooms what their interests are, where they enjoy spending time, where they met. Then we can plan our photo shoot so that the images are personal to them. For example, for a couple who enjoys walking together with their dog – we could go to the hills or a forest. Then we can decide on natural shots or meet later in the day with dramatic lighting and a sunset. Or maybe a couple who live in a city want images of them with a cityscape and cobbled streets, so we find a setting which meets this brief.”

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Image: Caroline White

How long does an engagement shoot last?

The length of your engagement shoot will depend on your photographer and how many shots they want to capture. Norfolk wedding photographer Richard Jarmy says: “Usually an hour is fine and although any time of the day is good with me, I much prefer to capture the couple 30 minutes before sunset so that I have that golden hour to play with… and the light is just magical.”

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Image: Richard Jarmy

How can couples ensure the best results?

Forgetting about the camera, focusing on one another and allowing your love to shine through are just some of the ways couples can ensure they get the most out of their engagement shoot. Although this can be easier said than done. You will find that you relax more as the session goes on, but just remember the natural and candid shots usually capture the most intimate and authentic moments. 

Mark and Laura Higgins of Slice of Pie Photography, based in Cheshire, advise: “Don’t over-think it. This is very easy to do when you aren’t being photographed, but in the same respect throw yourselves into the photo shoot and embrace it. Just be yourselves.”

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Image: Slice of Pie Photography

Commenting on the types of photos which work well, Asha Wesolowski of By Asha Photography who covers the UK, says: “I take plenty natural shots and keep a distance so couples can feel more relaxed. Of course I give some directions and advice on how to stand and where to look, but also take pictures in a natural way when the couple is walking or kissing.”

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Image: By Asha Photography

When will you receive the finished photos?

Again, this depends on the photographer and their turnaround time which they will be able to specify from the outset. Most engagement shoot images take just a couple of weeks to process, allowing you plenty of time to share the results with your friends and family before the wedding.

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