So you’re engaged, you’ve booked your wedding venue, wedding photographer and maybe some other vendors. Booking an engagement shoot may seem like just another wedding expense. But it’s an investment you definitely won’t regret.

I strongly believe that Engagement shoots are a necessary part of the wedding process. They are the first opportunity that couples will get to see, first hand, how their photographer will work with them during their wedding day to get those great photos. Almost every couple I meet tell me they are awkward in front of the camera. For me, as a wedding photographer, it’s a great chance to get to break the ice with the couple and learn how best to get them to relax for their photos.

I tell my couples to just think of it as a walk in the park with me. We’ll be chatting about all things wedding, and learning lots more about each other. I just happen to be holding a camera and taking a few snaps as we go along. It’s very important to get the couple to relax first and feel completely comfortable with you before you start to take any photos.

The best time for your engagement shoot

When to schedule your shoot depends on a couple of things. Some couples like to use the photos from their engagement shoot for their “Save The Date” cards or on a wedding website, so if that was your plan you would need to plan for at least 6 months prior to your wedding day.

Other couples prefer to have the shoot closer to their wedding so that they still remember all the tips they picked up during their pre-wedding shoot. Some couples, base their decision on the time of year, and the season in which they would like to have their photos taken. Whichever route you decide to take, as long as you have had the experience of walking together with me and going through the motions prior to your wedding day, you will feel a whole lot more confident about being in front of the camera on your actual wedding day. That is for sure.

The best place to take your engagement photos

I love it when a couple have somewhere adventurous in mind for their shoot. Being situated in the East Midlands, we are so lucky to have the Peak District on our doorstep. I am equally excited about urban settings and going to a couple’s favourite coffee shop. If, however, you don’t have anywhere specific in mind, I usually wonder into local parks around Derby or Nottingham. Having said all that, it’s always important to make sure we have permission to photograph at the chosen location before turning up there, to avoid disappointment.

What to wear on your engagement shoot

The main rule of thumb is to be comfortable in what you are wearing. Be yourselves. Ask yourself, do I want a photo of myself wearing these clothes?

I also recommend avoiding any large logos or any sort of writing on clothing, as this can be distracting. So plain, neutral colours work best.

In the winter you have a great opportunity to layer your clothing and accessorise. Use hats, scarfs and umbrellas. You can also use props on your engagement shoot. Although sparklers are predominantly used during weddings, they also make a good prop for an engagement shoot.

It may be a good idea to photograph each other in your outfits beforehand on your phones to make sure you are totally happy with how the clothes fit and look on you.

Your Make-Up

Your engagement shoot is a great chance for you to trial your make up look with the make-up artist that you’ll be using on your wedding day. That way you get to see exactly how your make-up will look in photos. From that, your make-up artist can make any necessary adjustments so that your wedding day make-up will be absolutely lawless.

To pose or not to pose

This is one of the most important things I go through with my couples during an engagement shoot. I teach them how to be relaxed and natural by being themselves, while at the same time look like they could have been posed, because they look so good. This is usually achieved by me giving them subtle guidance rather than posing instructions.

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