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I look forward to this time every year, when fresh spring light mixes with the excitement of wedding season drawing ever closer, but for some couples I know that planning an engagement shoot can be just another thing on the list – if not damn near terrifying.  Fear not lovely ones, BLOVED contributor and wedding photographer Thea from Xander & Thea Photography is here to share her recipe for engagement shoot perfection!

I love this time of year when lots of newly engaged and soon-to-be-wed couples are getting in front of the camera for pre-wedding shoots. I also know that it can be daunting or confusing to know what to do when you’re about to star in your own shoot so I’ve put together some tips that I hope will help you really fall in love with the camera.

Before you get out there, I’d really suggest putting together a moodboard. They’re a great way to explore possibilities and they help you work out the feel of the shoot before you’re there. Moodboards help with your wardrobe, make-up and even location choices too and they’re also great for the guys. If you can show your groom how good he’s going to look, he’ll be more likely to relax in front of the camera.  I know it’s very un-British to be romantic in front of people but your photographer is very use to it so you’ll be great images if you can forget they’re there. Never feel you have to stifle yourself and always remember why you’re doing this – it’s because you fancy the pants off each other! If you can ‘be in the moment’, you enjoy the shoot so much more. Just do whatever feels right and I know I never bat an eyelid if couples kiss and cuddle. I love it when everyone is just happy during their shoot. If you laugh or have a silly few moments, so much the better! Trust your photographer to capture everything and I know I like to spend time chatting with my couples before I even get behind the camera so we’re all really comfortable together.

I also think that the location plays a big part and I’d recommend choosing somewhere where you’re really relaxed or a spot that has significance. When you’re comfortable, you’re confident and less self-conscious. If getting glammed up or dressing down makes you happy, do it. It’s all about feeling great! So, here are some of my tips for a great engagement or pre-wedding shoot. I so hope they help you and you fall in love with the camera and also the images that you get from your shoot. Enjoy it – it’s a fantastic experience!


I often see this at engagement shoots, for example if I ask the couple to go and sit down, they’ll put their arms around each other and realise they aren’t sitting comfortably or in a way they would normally sit together. Because they are aware there is a camera there, they are more likely to remain seated in an uncomfortable position than to get up and move into a comfier spot. I always talk to my couples before the shoot to remind them that it’s ok to shift around and it’s important to forget what they think they should be doing. These sound like simple and obvious reminders but with butterflies in the tummy they are easy to forget.


Don’t try to emulate poses you see celebrities do in gossip magazines and on red carpet runways, you want to look naturally beautiful. By hiring a professional you can be sure that they will guide you into flattering positions that look both natural and elegant.


Often we see the same ideas doing the rounds on Pinterest and while they are creative, light hearted and fun they are at heart a fad. You like the idea because you haven’t seen images like that before and you are tickled pink by the novelty that you can use your hands to spell love with your fingers etc. It is quite cool I’ll admit but it’s not as rare as you think, it’s a popular trend and like most trends, they aren’t timeless and the more common, the less elegant they become. If you have seen something you MUST have a photo of, speak to your wedding photographer to discuss how you can recreate the same idea but in a different, more natural and elegant way.


If your coat, your handbag or scarf & gloves aren’t part of your carefully choreographed outfit, leave them behind. Carrying around spare clothes, a hairbrush, makeup and so on really minimises how natural the images appear as the photographer can’t shoot freely without distractions and you will find you need to start and stop more which in turn will lead to less emotive imagery.


In the run up to your engagement session, don’t treat it as something that needs knocked off your to do list with the rest of your wedding chores but as a luxury retreat to reconnect with each other amidst the wedding chaos- I promise you will enjoy the experience so much more! My couples are always so surprised how by how much fun they have and many have commented how they feel like it was more of a date than a photo shoot.

  1. RELAX

When you feel yourself getting nervous or feeling awkward a great way to relax is just to close your eyes and focus on your breath, focus on the feel of your hands touching, your fingers intertwining. Focus on the breeze and ground yourself. It sounds all a bit airy-fairy but it really does work (plus it results in beautiful images!)


If you are not comfortable in front of the camera, expect to feel awkward at first and know that that is perfectly normal but your professional photographer will help you to relax into it if you trust your photographer! This is why it’s so important to meet them in face or on Skype before you book, it’s not just about their imagery, it’s about how they interact with each couple to produce that imagery. Their job is to look for fantastic light, great angles, and genuine emotion which all results in fantastic photos! If something sounds a little strange just keep trusting them, they know exactly what to look for and often might just be photographing the smallest of details.


After a decade-long career in corporate interior design, I took a giant leap of faith, left the security of an office job, and founded B.LOVED in 2011 as a platform for romantic and beautiful wedding inspiration. Thanks to a whole lot of creativity, hard work and passion, my gamble paid off and B.LOVED became one of the leading wedding blogs in the UK.

I'm also a co-founder at The Brand Studio, where I design and curate beautiful photoshoots for wedding and lifestyle brands, as well as running wedding industry community the B.LOVED Hive where I support and nurture wedding pros building industry leading businesses. Yep, I definitely have the best job in the world.