A pre-wedding shoot might sound like a bit of a faff and an unnecessary addition to you wedding celebrations. Particularly if you’ve already booked me. I am a documentary wedding photographer, there to capture your celebrations in a natural storytelling style. These are the style of pictures you know are the important ones, the ones that hold their value over time and allow to relive your day over and over again.
Surely a staged shoot before the day doesn’t really fit in with the ethos of someone committed to the art of true documentary wedding photography?
On the face of it, no, it isn’t. But I have found a pre-wedding shoot to be a valuable addition to the services I can offer my couples.
1 – IT BUILDS A RAPPORT BETWEEN HAPPY COUPLE AND PHOTOGRAPHER
Of all the wedding industry suppliers it’s the photographer that spends the most amount of time around the couple and their guests on a wedding day. Most suppliers turn up for just a small part of the day. Dropping off the cake in the morning or arriving later in the evening to DJ your party, for example. Only the venue staff and, if you have one, a videographer, are actually in attendance with the photographer for the whole day. Of course, it’s important to have a good relationship with all your suppliers, but especially so with those who will spend the day with you and your closest family and friends. My working day at any wedding is usually anywhere from 12-16 hours. Building a rapport with suppliers will allow you to relax around them which will only help the day run smoothly. When you’re relaxed and enjoying the day carefree I produce my best work. If we have got to know each other a little before the day it will feel like a extra friend turning up, rather than simply another supplier.
2 – SHAKE OFF ANY CAMERA NERVES
Most of my couples would say they hate having their picture taken. I hate having my picture taken as well, so I totally understand how you feel. You’ve picked a documentary photographer so you don’t spend time posing for pictures on your wedding day, so it makes sense you don’t want to choose to go out and have more pictures taken. Especially when it’s a staged shoot. The pre-wedding shoot will quickly reveal how easy it is to get great images with very little fuss, it can even be fun too! Just ask Bex & Edan, pictured below. Bex told me that neither of them enjoy having their picture taken, but you wouldn’t know it looking at them here. I do not make my couples do any awkward posing or ask them to look into the camera, ever. For me couple pictures are always about the connection between two people. You only ever see that connection when the couple relax and are allowed to enjoy each other’s company without feeling like they are on display. When a couple stand in some nice light magic always happens.
This is the exact same way I work on the wedding day during the couple shoot, so it is a good dry run for the big day. You’ll know what to expect on the day itself and ease back into it very quickly.
3 – HAVE EXTRA PHOTOS TO USE ON YOUR WEDDING STATIONERY & DISPLAY AT HOME
Looking for more professional quality images to put on your wedding stationary than you’ve got on your phone? My couples have previously used their pre-wedding shoot photos for invitations, table centre pieces, guest books, signing cards, in a wedding breakfast slideshow, in wedding day magazines, to decorate their venue and as canvas prints to display at home. I love it when I get to the venue to see the pre-wedding pictures have been printed out and used on the day in some way.
4 – IT’S A CHANCE FOR SOME PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS OF THE WHOLE FAMILY
If you have children then I recommend bringing them with you so we can make it a family shoot. When a couple marries after having kids they become an important part of the wedding celebrations. Bringing them on the pre-wedding shoot means they are included right from the start. Much like you, they get to see me work before the wedding so I am a familiar face on the big day. It’s an important time in you and your children’s lives and documenting it is something which will leave legacy for years to come. When bringing children I sometimes recommend bringing an extra person along (like a grandparent) who can look after them for some of the time so I can still take some couple pictures with just the two of you.
5 – YOU CAN GET YOUR DOG INVOLVED!
Lots of couples bring their dog with them on their pre-wedding shoot. In fact, if you have a dog (or dogs, one couple brought 5 of them!) then I recommend it, just as I do with children. If you have children and a dog, even better. As a former dog owner I understand the importance our canine companions hold in our lives. Some couples pick venues where they can bring their dog for all or part of their day, but most don’t as it is an extra complication. Those that choose not include their dog in the day nearly always bring them on their pre-wedding shoot. I love capturing couples relaxing with their dogs as it captures and preserves an important aspect of their lives together which isn’t seen on the wedding day.
6 – HAVE SOME PROFESSIONAL PICTURES TAKEN IN A MEANINGFUL PLACE
You can choose any location you like. Your regular dog-walking route, a local park or beauty spot you both enjoy spending time in. I’ve been to a birthday party for a couple’s 3 year old son. I followed Louise & Scott around the Christmas market in Birmingham city centre. Jenny & Andrew had their shoot on and around Tower Bridge in London. I’ve visited several wedding venues with couples to get some shots in the grounds before the big day. It’s your choice where we go, I love couples to choose something which means something to them. Last year Alex & Alex chose to start the shoot outside the pub in Greenwich where they had their first date. We started there and then walked along the Thames to the pub where they’d had their second date. I loved that the locations were so personal to them. Of course, if you’re planning on bringing the dogs then a muddy field might be better. I’m up for anything!
7 – DOCUMENT AN ACTIVITY OR INTEREST YOU BOTH SHARE
Sorrel & Angelo play pitch and put every Sunday morning. One morning I jointed them for a trip around their local 18 hole course. I loved capturing this small but important piece of their lives. It was 100% documentary coverage as well which really made it a unique and memorable shoot.
8 – ADD TO THE EXPERIENCE OF PLANNING A WEDDING AND GETTING MARRIED
Proposal to ‘I do’ can be anywhere from a year to three years depending on how long your engagement is. Going on a pre-wedding shoot adds to the overall experience and you will receive something tangible before the actual wedding day comes around. It will only help build the excitement like it did for Katy, Bex & Jodie, these are their Instagram posts after receiving their pictures.
I hope you’re as sold on pre-wedding shoots as I am. If you would like to add one on to your package please get in touch using the button below so we can discuss your plans.
I am always happy to help out with ideas if you need any. Shoots usually take place one year to three months before the wedding date, although I have done one the weekend before a wedding, so anything goes, pre-wedding shoots are always a bespoke experience.
You can see more images from recent pre-wedding shoots below.
Sessions are £195 for a 1-hour shoot.
Travel costs for locations over an hour from my house.