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9 Tips for Taking Pre-wedding Photos

So you’re engaged. The wedding planning is on a roll. Checking items off your ambitious mammoth list? Check. Next up: the pre-wedding photo shoot. Like with everything else you have planned for the wedding, your couple photos should, hopefully, be as personal as you’d like them to be. While many choose to travel to the end of the world to lands far far away, beautiful, meaningful photographs can be taken as close and simply in your own backyard (we mean it). But okay, if the backyard is out, there are endless options depending on your style, budget, and wants. So while many other parts of the wedding planning can wear you out, we hope our tips will help you to enjoy a stress-free and fun photo shoot with your beau. And if you remember nothing, remember to have fun. Cheers!

1. Determine your style.

Engagement photos vary in style—formal, informal, romantic, fun, horror (yes, ever seen the recent coffin engagement photo shoot?), and the list goes on. First decide the general feel you want to go for. Style will determine much everything else: location, lighting, setting, outfit, hair, makeup, prop, and so on. And no, you aren’t limited to just one or two; exploring several will give you options you can choose from later on.

2. Pinterest will be your best friend.

In case you aren’t on Pinterest yet, now is a good time to be. Sign up on pinterest.com, where you’ll find more inspiration and ideas than you or anyone, really, needs or could ever need. Use the search function to get ideas on hair, makeup, props, poses, outfits, and everything else in between.

3. Choose two dates.

Some couples take a day to do their photo shoot; others take a week or even two. If you are considering sparing a single day, it’s wise to save another date in case it rains (or snows). That way, if you can’t at least take a few shots on day one, there’s always day two. Oh, and don’t wait until the last minute to take your photos. Schedule the session months before the wedding. Get it out of the way so you can be more relaxed closer to the date.

4. Schedule hair and makeup trial.

The day of your shoot would be the perfect time to schedule your hair and makeup trial for the wedding day. That way you’ll not only be able to get a preview of your look for the big day, you’ll also have something to do and somewhere to go with all that powder and blush on your face (instead of say, feeding your cat or grocery shopping).

5. Pick out and match several outfits.

I recommend bringing at least 3 different outfits with you, all of them somewhat coordinating with your partner’s (it is more than likely that he will need help). Depending on your number of locations, you’ll have options to play with. For instance, for our photos in Bali, I brought with me one formal long dress, one casual dress, a swimsuit, and several other spare tops and bottoms. If you are going for a completely laidback style, feel free to forgo the formal attire altogether, and stick with jeans and a crisp white shirt or t-shirt.

6. Smile a lot.

Although some shots call for a contemplative, pensive expression, smiling will never fail you. And if you’re like me, born with RBF (resting bitch face), smiling will be the best thing you could do all day. While you do so, check on your partner to make sure he, too, smiles with you.

7. Be open with your photographer.

Don’t be shy to tell your photographer exactly what you and your partner want. Show him or her sample photos you like. At the same time, be open to his or her ideas too. Although ideally all of us would be doing a photo shoot with a photographer we are very comfortable with, most of the time, you’ve only just met. But trust your intuition about the photographer; work with someone you can trust and be comfortable around. Oh, and don’t be afraid to ask for quick look at the photos during the shoot, if and when you want to modify and improve your poses and whatnot. Most of us aren’t professional models, so feel free to let your photographer know you may need guidance along the way, so he or she may feel free to “tell you what to do.”

8. More isn’t always more.

A photographer’s fee is not necessarily an accurate representation of his or her quality of work or experience level. So if you’re choosing a photographer based solely on his or her fees, don’t. Instead, take a look at the actual photos produced and get recommendations from friends and family. It’s best to choose someone easy to work with (also known as nice) and whose work you personally enjoy and admire. It’s easy to fall into a photographer’s branding, but what you should be seeing is the connection between the work and your personal style and taste. This isn’t about pleasing anyone else; it’s your and your partner’s choice. Remember: a memorable beautiful collection of photos do not have to cost a fortune.

9. Remember to have fun (doh!).

Probably overstated, but maybe because it’s so true. We all get so tied up in the technicalities and details of the wedding planning that we forget what’s most important in the process: you and your partner. So yes, while some things do require careful planning, you can only do so much. Don’t bother trying to control every single tiny little itsy bitsy detail (yes that includes that single stray of hair tenaciously clutching onto his sideburn). Don’t take everything too seriously. Let loose. After all, they’re just photos!

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