When I got married over ten years ago, no one had ever heard the expression 'engagement shoot'. We'd been engaged for two years before we actually got married and our photographer was one of the first things we organised. Since then there seems to have been a rise in all sorts of things that you need to have for your wedding, and engagement shoots have been increasingly popular. So, what is this and why is it a good idea? Lizz at DJ Archer Photography explains more....(and to be honest I think one of these shoots would have been great for us pre-wedding as we do both despise having our picture taken!) 'Recently I’ve had a few people ask me if they have to have an engagement shoot in their wedding photography package. Well, the answer is no but I’d definitely suggest they do. I’ll explain why we recommend you have an engagement shoot, how to make the most of your engagement shoot and what to do with your images afterwards. SO, WHY HAVE AN ENGAGEMENT SHOOT? Firstly, if you’re like 90% of our clients you won’t like having your picture taken and this is a great way of getting over that problem. (If the truth be known, Mr dj archer hates having his picture taken so he knows exactly how you feel.) We know exactly how to make you feel comfortable in front of the camera rather than just standing you together and saying ‘Smile’! You want your wedding day to go without a hitch and to feel as comfortable as possible. Imagine booking your photographer and not actually meeting them until your wedding. What if you don’t like them? ARGH! Not much you can do on your wedding day. Use your engagement shoot as a chance to get to know your photographer. Ask them lots of questions, see if they can show you examples of their work and mostly have fun and make the most of it. How often do you get the chance to have a professional portrait session, because after all, that is exactly what an engagement shoot is. HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR ENGAGEMENT SHOOT? PLAN! Have a serious think about what you want from your shoot. Browse the internet and look for previous engagement shoots, either by your photographer and/or in the location that you’re going to. Are you going for the casual look or do you want to look your best for the photoshoot? Use Pinterest. This is great for looking for inspiration. Which photos do you like? What are they wearing? What is it about the photo that you like? Then Pin It and share it with your photographer so they can see the kind of things that you like. Also, think about clothes changes. Even little things like layering can allow you to have different looks if there isn’t anywhere suitable to get changed. And think about props as these will give you such a variety of images. We know a fabulous company called Hello Brolly who supply the most beautiful brollies and some fabulous wedding brollies too. These are fantastic both to shelter from the rain and to shade from the bright sunlight. We also use them as a reflector if we need to bounce some light back into the picture. One very creative couple brought their home-made bunting to their engagement shoot, along with the canvas which the groom use to propose with. And another couple brought a comic along to their engagement shoot as the groom to be got the author to write the proposal into the comic! WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR IMAGES AFTERWARDS With the massive rise in digital photography very few people actually print off images so my suggestion would be to at least get a little album with your images from the engagement shoot. This is a big step towards your wedding and what a wonderful memento to have, both your engagement album and your wedding album. Some couples use their images for their save the date cards or their wedding invites. Others are just happy to have some gorgeous pictures of themselves before they become Mr & Mrs. Some couples use an image from the shoot as a signature board on their wedding day to replace a guest book and some couples simply use the images as a guest book. But this is a biggie. We would definitely suggest that you print off your favourite image and keep it somewhere that you can see it, because if you’re happy with these images then you can relax in the knowledge that your wedding pictures are going to be amazing. One less thing to worry about!' DJ Archer are exhibiting with us at the Great Lancashire Wedding Show on 9th November.