Of all the things we’ve planned for our wedding, my fiancé and I didn’t count on spending an afternoon in a sunny London park, clumsily posing like bad mail-order catalogue models while a photographer snapped away and passers-by sniggered.
Before we got engaged in June, neither of us had ever even heard of a pre-wedding shoot. We browsed a few wedding photographers’ websites and picked the one whose photos we liked the look of most. Her package happened to include a ‘pre-wedding’ shoot. Not being particularly well-versed about wedding trends, we assumed it would be something they’d do on the day. “Probably just them taking pics of us getting ready,” said my other half, but no – it turns out it’s a bit more than that.
Also known as a couples shoot or an engagement shoot, a pre-wedding photo shoot involves spending the day being photographed in casually yet carefully co-ordinated outfits, gazing into each other’s eyes while onlookers stare (it’s pretty obvious that it’s no professional model shoot). The aim is to capture your idiotic “in love and about to get married” expressions.
It sounds ridiculous, but in the wedding industry pre-wedding shoots are now seriously big business. Wedding magazines say they are a “must-have” (along with save-the-date cards, handmade wedding favours, first dance lessons and monthly facials); one photographer’s website recommends hiring a professional hair and makeup artist to get the most of your shoot; and some brides-to-be agonise over what they and their “H2B” (sorry) should wear.
Before our shoot, for which we weren’t particularly prepared (letting the side down, I had no hair and makeup artist and we didn’t wear matching outfits), I Googled “pre-wedding photo shoot” and the results - cheesy poses, smug expressions, contrived locations – made me vow not to tell any of my friends what we were up to that Saturday afternoon.
We sat on a grassy patch in Regents Park. We stood under a tree. We stood next to a tree. We looked out over a bridge. He looked at me; I looked away into the distance (and vice versa). I looked at the ground, he looked, thoughtfully, at the top of my head. We were meant to gaze into each other’s eyes a lot – romantic, yes, but it also makes your eyes glaze over, especially when you both wear contact lenses.
Our photographer told us some couples have an engagement shoot and then do it all again later, to celebrate an anniversary. In the end, we had a laugh playing up the cheese factor, but it’s definitely not something we’ll be repeating.
We wouldn’t have gone out of our way to book this pre-wedding shoot malarkey if it hadn’t have been thrown in with the deal – honest. But that’s the idiotic thing about weddings. You somehow end up doing stuff that’s not really “you” – whether it’s grooms going to dance lessons, or brides suddenly deciding they really must cover themselves in fake tan, even if they’ve never had the urge before.
What’s the most ridiculous thing you ended up doing, to your shame, for your wedding?