Planning Guides: Your pre-wedding engagment shoot

Couple hugging under over hagning autumn trees at The Birmingham Botnaical Gardens during their pre-wedding engagement shoot with The DignumsAden and Tammie were having their ceremony at The Birmingham Botanical Gardens. So they chose to have their pre-shoot their so that they could select their favourite locations to revisit for photos on their wedding day.

Pre-wedding photo shoots, what's all that about then?

You may already know that we include a pre-wedding engagement shoot with all our wedding coverage packages. Not only are they a big free bonus to you guys, but they are advantageous to us as photographers too.

As it's free you don't have to take advantage of your pre-shoot, but we strongly recommend you find the time in your schedule to do so. As you can imagine, most weekends we're booked up with photographing weddings, or trying to take advantage of the very rare weekend off to visit our family and friends. It means that for the most part pre-shoots are booked in for a weekday. There are advantages of weekday photos shoots which we'll explain later. This big post is to help you understand what they are all about and what to expect.

Stranger danger!

Your pre-wedding engagement shoot is the best chance for us to get to know each other better before your wedding day. We'll most likely be with you for a very long time on your day, so all of us being more familiar with each other just makes that time together even more enjoyable. Plus we won't feel like strangers when we turn up at the start of your day during your preparations, it will feel like another mate has just arrived. We work hard to let couples know the type of photographers and individuals we are, as this in turn helps couples decide that not only are we the right photographers for them, but we're also people that they'd like to hang out with on their wedding day.

OMG but we hate being in front of a camera!

If the above thought has crossed your mind whilst contemplating a pre-wedding photoshoot, then you've just realised one of the strongest cases for having one in the first place. We're pretty confident that 90% is an accurate proportion for the amount of our couples who say that they aren’t big fans of having their photos taken. The opportunity to try our different things, and for you to become accustomed to being in front of the camera with less time constraints, means that after the shoot you'll get to see photos of yourself before your wedding day. It's one of the main advantages of the shoots. You get to check out what you think works well for you, and what you may not fit you as much personally. You get to go into your wedding day with the confidence of knowing what works best for you.

Are we going to have to touch each other?

Let's dispel some preconceptions you may have. We won't ask you to do/try anything you wouldn't generally in life. Any tips for ways of standing together we may suggest, you'll have done together before without even thinking about it. Our style of photography is relaxed, so we avoid anything really posed, we want your images to look like you're just out for the day together and stopped for a couple of photos.

We won't ask you to kiss or do anything overly intimate, that's your choice if you'd like to or not. To put you ate ease we could tell you that by this point in our career we've sen tonnes of couples touch each other, but that probably just sounds a little weird. These shoots are different to wedding shoots in that you get to focus on yourselves more, rather than the excitement and distractions of a wedding day going on all around you. Don’t worry if that sounds a little full-on, as we're there to talk you through everything, offer advice and coaching as needed, and some distracting fun and humour.

Casual, relaxed photos of just the two of you

We tend to feel a little spoilt on a pre-wedding engagement shoot, as most of the time we’re not in a rush. It's usually a stroll somewhere pleasant occasionally stopping for a photo. As you can probably tell from the little slideshow compilation below, the relaxed pace lets you warm up slowly, and by the end of almost every shoot couples have forgotten the camera is there as they’re more distracted by having fun with each other, and us.


So now you know why it's a great idea to have a pre-wedding shoot, let's get down to a little of what you can expect.

Same sex couple standing in front of colourful street art at The Custard Factory during an urban pre-wedding engagement shoot with The DignumsGemma and Faye were getting married at the lovely Pendrell Hall, so as a point of difference they opted for an urban city centre pre-shoot around Digbeth and the Custard Factory.

What will we get up to during the shoot?

We don’t just jump straight into taking photos. On the average pre-wedding engagement shoot we’ll find somewhere to sit and chat for a while first. We run through the plans for your day, and discuss how we will best capture everything for you. It's also your opportunity to let us know anything specific you think would be helpful, and ask any remaining questions you may have.

Once we’ve got to know each other a little better, then it’s time for me to get the camera out! The location you’ve chosen for your shoot will dictate slightly as to how we go about things.

For the most part we’ll start strolling around, looking out for interesting backdrops for your photos. We'll help you to work out where to stand, and we can try various different ways of how you interact together to start to get an idea of what works well.

The photos will always look better with some form of physical interaction; holding hands, having a cuddle, leaning on each other, whatever you're comfortable with. We’ll work out what suits you. As we progress we might try a few different creative ideas.

That pretty much sums up a pre-wedding engagement shoot. At its simplest, we go for a stroll and take some photos!

Couple standing amongst autumn leaves, holding hands under a bridge, at Moor Hall Hotel during their pre-wedding engagement shoot with The DignumsAs Lauren and Freddie's wedding day was being held at Moor Hall Hotel, that's where they chose to have their pre-shoot. A relaxed shoot amongst the autumn leaves.

Where should we go for our shoot?

There’s a few options depending on how you feel, and how you’d like to plan ahead. It can be advantageous to have your shoot at your chosen wedding venue. This lets us all visit your ceremony room, so that we can discuss the space available, and how you’d like us to cover that part of the day. Physically being in the ceremony room helps this process.

It also means that you get to try out actual locations at your venue to see how they look as a backdrop before the big day itself. That way on your wedding day you know ahead of time where you’d like to head to for photos. However, wedding venues are busy places and you may find that they can struggle to accommodate our visit. This is one of the reasons having your shoot on a weekday can really help, as they are less likely to have an event during the week.

If your venue can't accommodate us, your venue's location is outside of the Midlands, or you just fancy having your photos elsewhere for a point of difference then we don't we can go elsewhere. If you’re on the nervous side about when it comes to being photographed, you most likely will want to avoid a busy location. Think about whether yo'd prefer a rural or urban location. Which would suit you and reflect your relationship best?

If you decide on a rural woodland shoot, it’s a great idea to opt for an interesting location with varying features and backdrop option. Somewhere that can incorporate open areas, as well as woods, and possible lakes or fountains. If you'd like an urban backdrop then we can highly recommend meeting up at The Custard Factory in Birmingham and having a still around Digbeth to make use of the industrial locations and amazing street art.

Groom to be going in for a kiss at The Ashes Barns during their pre-wedding engagement shoot with The DignumsWe don't ask couples to kiss, that's up to you. Then again some couples don't need to be asked, Ant was right in there much to Becky's surprise!

When is the best time to book our shoot for?

Due to the busy nature of the wedding season, pre-wedding engagement shoots are best booked in for late autumn or springtime. We want to ensure we have plenty of lovely natural light, so taking sunset times in to consideration is important. As we mentioned we're often mostly photographing weddings on weekends, so most of our availability is during the week. This is often better as venues and locations are quieter during the week. So your wedding venue is more likely to be able to accommodate us, and locations won't be as busy making the shoot easier.

There's no rules as to how far in advance of your wedding day you should have your pre-shoot, it's up to you. It's probably best to avoid the last six weeks before the big day, as you'll probably be busy and may struggle to fit it in. Sometime between six to three months before can work well.

We can slot your shoot into our schedule as far in advance as you'd like, so if you'd like to bag a particular date it's best to arrange it as soon as you've booked. From experience we've found Mondays and Tuesdays can work best. Often couples book the Monday off work to make a long weekend and so we don't need to rush when we meet up.

Couple standing in the falling snow during their winter pre-wedding engagement shoot with The DignumsWinter pre-shoots can be beautiful, just like Sam and Andy's. Spontaneous and unexpected snow shoer anyone?

Same sex couple hugging during their pre-wedding engagement shoot with The DignumsMel and Laura's pre-wedding shoot was super relaxed. A simple stroll with a lot of mucking about and laughing.

What should we wear?

We tend to suggest to wear something comfortable, that you feel flatters you. When we're wearing clothes that we feel flatter us, it can give us a little confidence boost. There's no rules, so with what suits you as a couple. If you like to dress up a little more then go for it! If you are more of a casual and comfy couple, then go for that!

Try to leave bags at home so you don’t have to carry anything around. It’s sometimes a good idea to avoid busily patterned clothing, but there’s no hard and fast rule. If you want to wear that eye watering Hawaiian shirt then by all means do so. To stand out on varying backdrops bold colours can actually work well, but don’t worry if that’s not really your thing. If it’s chilly, remember a coat. Coats can work well as a mini costume change option too. Sensible outdoor footwear is obviously also ideal!

We're going to draw the line at advising you on underwear, that's a completely different type of photo shoot.

Couple holding hands in front of vibrant street art at The Custard Factory during an urban pre-wedding engagement shoot with The DignumsKatherine and Rob are city folks so a pre-wedding shoot with vibrant street art in Birmingham suited them down to the ground.

More of our pre-wedding engagement shoots can be found on our site here, and you can see a mini portfolio of pre-shoots here.

Couple hugging during their pre-wedding engagement shoot with The Dignums at Madeley Court HotelTo say Lee and Lauren's pre-wedding shoot was fun would be an understatement. We didn't stop laughing, it was awesome.

If you've not booked us for your wedding just yet and the idea of a free pre-wedding engagement shoot has clinched the deal, get in touch to check we're available for your day.

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