Engagement Shoots – Why they are Important

Engagement Shoots – Why they are Important

On Easter Sunday (end of April) Euan & I were lucky enough to have the most amazing engagement shoot with our photographer, Emma (Freckle Photography). We lucked out with the weather (heatwave weekend!) and had soo much fun laughing, smiling, and chatting.

I’m going to share a few of our preview images soon, but I wanted to first talk a bit about engagement shoots and why they are important.

Engagement Shoots

Also know as pre-wedding shoots, depending on how close to your wedding you have it! Firstly, what are engagement shoots? Well, they’re basically a photoshoot with your wedding photographer which takes place during your engagement period. Not much to it really!

Some photographers will offer engagement/pre-wedding shoots as part of their photography package, and others will offer them for an additional price. Either way, I highly recommend.

Why are they important?

I’ve always thought engagement shoots were incredibly important. Seeing the difference between couples on their wedding day who have previously had a photoshoot with their photographer and those who haven’t solidified it in my mind a long time ago. But, having never had one myself I didn’t want to be too vocal about how important they are until I had experienced it for myself.

But, now I have! So why are they important? Time for some bullet points I think…

  • You get to meet your photographer properly. You’re going to be getting quite up close and personal in front of your photographer, so you want to feel comfortable around them. And the best way for you all to get to know each other is to go out and have some pics taken!
  • It’s good practice. When do you ever stand in front of a camera for 30 minutes solidly, kissing & cuddling your other half? It’s an alien concept, and is surprisingly difficult. Even the most confident of people will feel a tad shy when there’s someone telling them to have a smooch with a camera pointed in their face.
  • Your photographer gets a chance to photograph you. Obvious, right? What I mean is during engagement shoots, photographers can figure out your most flattering sides & angles, work out where best to stand you both in relation to each other, and all the other clever photography tricks. I have zero photography experience (can you tell?) but in any walk of life, things are almost always easier second time around. And if you have an engagement shoot, your wedding day won’t be the first time your photographer has photographed you.
  • Photos will probably take up less time on your wedding day. This is tied pretty closely to you both being more comfortable in front of a camera paired with your photographer knowing you through their lens. Since you’ve ‘been there done that’ you won’t need to spend quite as long faffing around trying to get the perfect pic.

There are many other benefits to having engagement shoots, the photos for example! Your engagement period is one of the most special times in your life, so why not have some killer pics to remember it by? And also, why not?! Go for it! We had the most amazing evening having our engagement shoot, and that in itself was pretty special. Let alone the amazing pics Emma took!

Planning Update

Keep your eyes peeled for some preview images on the blog over the next few days… And in the meantime, why don’t you catch up with my planning update blog post series?

A Year of Engagement -Wedding Planning Update

A Year of Engagement -Wedding Planning Update

To mark a year of engagement (how has that happened?!), I thought it was time for a ‘Wedding Planning Update’ blog post series. In this series I’ll be talking you through all the decisions that have been made, suppliers booked, the ups & downs of planning a wedding, and all the bits in between!

But, let’s start with what I’ve learnt about engagements from other people, and from my own experiences.

Engagements

I think people often fantasise about being engaged. It’s glamourised in the media, and from a young age girls are brought up looking forward to that ‘will you marry me’ moment. And, to be honest, I think it’s incredibly unhealthy.

Being engaged isn’t about the shiny ring, the glamorous trips to wedding dress shops, or the excuse to drink champagne all the time. It’s about a commitment you’re making to another person, a commitment that’s going to last for the rest of your life. I think people lose sight of that amongst the excitement of ‘wanting’ to be engaged, and they forget that an engagement also means a marriage. Don’t get me wrong, being engaged is a wonderful period of time – possibly the best ever! But only if it’s for the right reasons, and with the right person.

My mum once said to me ‘marry the man for the man, not for the wedding’, and it’s so true. If you weren’t getting a beautiful engagement ring, you weren’t getting the dress shopping, you weren’t getting the wedding, the bridesmaids, the gifts, the photos… Would you still want to get married? It seems like the simplest of things, but in actual fact it’s astonishing how many people I’ve met who are one hundred percent getting married for the wedding, and not the person or the marriage.

“Fall in love with the person, not the life they can give you”

Engaged for a whole year!

I actually can’t believe it has been a whole year! I honestly don’t know where the time has gone. So, what has it been like? Amazing, exciting, but by no means perfect.

The things I’ve loved most is being surrounded by friends & family who adore me & Euan and cannot wait for our wedding. The support and love we’ve felt in this past year has been incredible, and we are so grateful for our amazing friends. There’s something indescribably magical about people genuinely loving the two of you as a couple and is absolutely essential for a lasting relationship.

I’ve also loved the amazing memories I’ve made with my closest gals going wedding dress shopping (in many different places!), the last-minute (ish) engagement party we had last year, and the memories we’re yet to make in the next 17 months!

And of course the wedding planning itself. Which is also the part that has brought the imperfections… But more on that later!

Take a look at my previous blog post series on what I’m up to!

The Bridal House of Cornwall – Local Wedding Dress Shopping Experience

The Bridal House of Cornwall – Local Wedding Dress Shopping Experience

On my hunt for the perfect wedding dress, I recently visited The Bridal House of Cornwall in Truro. Whilst Truro isn’t super local to me, it’s still not far. I actually travelled down by train and it was comfortable & easy.

The main reason for visiting The Bridal House of Cornwall was to treat one of my besties to a ‘wedding day out’ as I was going to ask her to be my bridesmaid (not that she knew that of course). I’m a tad fussy when it comes to bridal shops, and after my last experience I knew I didn’t want to just go ‘anywhere’. I wanted it to be really lovely. We were not disappointed!

 

The Bridal House of Cornwall – About the shop

If you know Truro at all then you’ll know what a gorgeous city it is. And The Bridal House of Cornwall, a stunning Georgian Mansion nestled in the heart of the city, was very in-keeping with that.

the bridal house of cornwall ever after blog

They stock a range of designers, from the high-end glitz & glamour queen, Jenny Packham, to the more affordable Spanish brand, Rosa Clara. Plus a bit of everything in between! A personal favourite is London designer, Naomi Neoh, who uses incredible silks and laces to create ultimate elegant wedding dresses.

the bridal house of cornwall dress shopping ever after blogthe bridal house of cornwall dress shopping ever after blog

 

The Bridal House of Cornwall Experience

There are two different options for your appointment. They offer a standard hour long appointment which is free of charge, or an ‘experience’ appointment which I highly recommend. My bridesmaid & I arrived early and were seated in the library and handed a glass of bubbles. The stylist was super friendly and chatty, and made us feel instantly welcome & comfortable.

The library is a gorgeous room. One wall is filled with shelves of shoes & jewellery, and another a bookcase design with vintage teacups and other adorable trinkets. My bridesmaid, Ruby, was in her element (which made me super happy because I wanted her to enjoy the day as much as me). We chatted some more to the stylist before she took us through to the showroom. In my opinion, they have the perfect number of dresses. Not so few that you can’t find any you like, but not so many that you get lost amongst them.

the bridal house of cornwall dress shopping ever after blog

Once we had chosen a handful of dresses, we were taken through to another room (honestly, this place is just fab) where I then tried on the gowns. There is a catwalk which you walk down and the stylist takes pictures for you to look through later. Before the appointment, the thought of a ‘catwalk’ seemed a bit daunting, but it’s not like that at all. The whole appointment was super relaxed and most importantly, fun.

We spent probably around an hour trying on dresses, and I enjoyed every second of it. As did Ruby! Once the dress-trying part was over, we went back into the library to look through the photos and select the ones we wanted to keep. And just when we thought the fun was over, we went back into the showroom where our stylist let us loose on the Photo Booth props and we had a mini photoshoot to document the day!

the bridal house of cornwall dress shopping ever after blog

 

It was honestly the most wonderful experience and I don’t think I’ll have another one like it. Although I didn’t find ‘the’ dress, that didn’t matter to me at all. It’s all these moments which make planning a wedding so exciting & memorable, and I’m so thankful to the team at The Bridal House of Cornwall for making such an important day that bit more special. 100% would recommend!

Wedding Dress Shopping Experience Part 2…

Wedding Dress Shopping Experience Part 2…

So you’ve heard about the wonderful experience, now for the not-so-wonderful… (if you missed my last post then catch up here before reading this one).

 

The Experience…

The bridal stylist sat us down, and at first was quite pleasant and talked us through what I would be doing during our appointment. However, quite quickly our ‘welcome chat’ became a little patronising and almost felt like a dictation of what I will and won’t feel when I put a wedding dress on. I was asked about my wedding and my vision for the day, and I explained in quite substantial detail about what I pictured for the wedding and the dress. I mentioned fabrics and necklines, as well as the overall ‘feel’ of the dress. An error of mine was failing to mention that I was in the wedding industry and had worked with wedding dresses before, plus I had visited the Harrogate Bridal Show every year of my childhood and teens, so my understanding of the wedding industry – in particular wedding dresses – was quite vast. I wonder if this would have made a difference to the way I was treated (not that of course it should have done). Very bluntly, I was asked what my budget for the dress was. I don’t like to discuss money, and despite my bridesmaids being family or as good as, I didn’t feel entirely comfortable talking about my wedding budget in that environment. I gave the stylist a starting figure but said I was aware I will probably be spending more and was okay with that. I explained there was flexibility in my overall wedding budget to spend a little more on a wedding dress if I decided to. She retorted with an incredibly blunt ‘well our dresses start at X which is almost double your budget’ and gave me a look as if to say ‘so what on earth are you still doing sat there’. I replied explaining I’m open to expanding my budget for the right dress, but unfortunately she had already made her (uninformed and incorrect) assumptions about me and frankly wasn’t interested.

Nevertheless, we powered on and went through the collection of lovely dresses, picking out ones in styles I knew I liked from the previous appointment. I selected one dress which was made of a very interesting fabric, and I was curious to try it on as I’d never seen anything like it. Instead of taking that one to the dressing room, the stylist picked another one and ushered me behind the curtain. Once we were in the dressing room, the stylist said ‘the dress you picked out is not in your price range so I’d advise you to not try it on’ I was slightly shocked by her audacity and replied ‘oh that’s okay, I’m really open to trying anything on’ and she looked at me coldly and said ‘we’re talking £12,000plus for this particular dress so I don’t think you should try it’. Her boldness was honestly outstanding.

wedding dress shopping experience part 2

(A Suzanne Neville dress)

The appointment only continued to get worse. I was told to put on these enormous platform heels, which I was fine with. What I was not fine with, however, was stepping into these (rather large) dresses without even a hand to hold onto for support. Keeping in mind (as many of you will know from dress shopping yourselves) you’re not wearing an awful lot when in the dressing room, and for someone to watch you struggle into a dress whilst wearing giant heels (and not a lot else) is nothing short of terribly embarrassing. I cannot tell you how anxious I started to feel as the appointment went on. The stylist made it perfectly clear that she was completely disinterested in the appointment, and if the yawning wasn’t enough, she kept disappearing to have whispered conversations with her colleague behind the front desk.

I tried on a dress which was absolutely gorgeous and one I really liked, as did my mum and my bridesmaids. The stylist, however, had other ideas. She hauled me back into the dressing room where she put me in a dress which was wonderful, but just not me. It was very much ‘of the times’, and definitely stylish in a designer sense, but not the timeless wedding dress I was looking for.

wedding dress shopping experience part 2

(Disclaimer – this is not the dress she put me in, but you get the idea…)

As I came out of the changing room she exclaimed ‘this is the dress!’ to my posse of wedding-dress-groupies and started to ramble on about how the last dress was ‘too old’ for me (despite it being strapless with a modern skirt) and how I should be looking for something ‘young & fun’. Without giving anything away, I have certainly not been looking at dresses that are ‘too old’ for me. In fact, quite the opposite. Despite what the stylist (with a blinding complex) thought.

wedding dress shopping experience part 2

(Another Suzanne Neville dress)

It was at this point where 3 other people entered the shop, one of which being a man. At first, I didn’t mind because I assumed they would be taken downstairs. The women were, the man however was invited to sit on a chair right outside my dressing room. If I wasn’t feeling uncomfortable enough by now, this certainly sealed the deal. I might add too that my dressing room was opposite a floor-to-ceiling mirror and the stylist was not discreet with the curtain. Need I say more?

Despite me taking the time at the beginning of the appointment to explain exactly what my wedding vision was, the stylist had paid no attention whatsoever. She kept describing my wedding as ‘rustic’ when I’d said nothing of the sort. Again, forming her own opinions based on the smallest amount of information. At one point she put me in a dress which I instantly hated and said ‘I’m not feeling this at all’ and instead of getting me out of the dress and into something I liked, she left me standing in it and went to chat to her colleague (again). I was stood awkwardly in a dress which didn’t make me feel good for over 5 minutes, trying to make positive comments about it until she got back and put me in something else. It all started to become very frustrating, and I quickly wished we had never come. What started off as the perfect day was turning into a nightmare. By this point I was feeling so completely rubbish that I didn’t even want to smile when in a dress I liked because I thought if I showed any emotion at all I might burst into tears.

wedding dress shopping experience part 2

Whilst all of this was happening, none of us knew how we were all feeling about the appointment. I wanted nothing more than to turn round to my mum and girls and say ‘I’m hating this. I feel so uncomfortable and I’m not having a good time’ but I never had the chance. Even when the stylist left us, she was always in earshot. And because I thought maybe it was just me who was picking up on this awful vibe and atmosphere, I didn’t want to start being rude in case the others thought I was being completely overdramatic (no bridezilla moment I can assure you!). As it turned out, we had all felt exactly the same during the appointment, and we were also all unsure of how each other was feeling at the time. I must have a pretty good pokerface because none of them had any idea I was feeling so miserable! If I could turn back time, I would definitely be far less polite and actually tell her she was making me feel awful. Or failing that, maybe just have given up altogether and left. But, I can’t go back in time so I just have to live with the experience and learn from it. After all, a wedding isn’t just about the day itself, it’s all the moments during the buildup and the things we experience during that time.

wedding dress shopping experience part 2

It was also incredibly interesting to be on the other side of an appointment like that, and it made me realise where the business I used to work in was going so wrong. Whilst we were told to act professional and give the opening spiel to each bride who walked through the door, actually this comes across very negatively and isn’t at all what brides want. Not brides like me, anyway! I much preferred my genuine, down to earth, and relaxing experience at Suzanne Neville where I was made to feel like a princess and my tastes, opinions, and visions were listened to and respected. That’s what a wedding dress appointment should be like.

Suzanne Neville – Dress Shopping Experience Part 1

Suzanne Neville – Dress Shopping Experience Part 1

Possibly the most exciting part of being a bride-to-be is the dress shopping experience. This is especially true for me as I have such an enormous love and passion for wedding dresses, which is why I knew I wanted to visit the London flagship stores of a select few designers. I grew up near London so had often walked past these flagship stores and dreamed about the day it would be me inside. Plus any 90s babies out there will remember the film ‘The Parent Trap’ and how Annie & Hallie’s mother was a London wedding dress designer (mum goals), and the scene in her flagship store was possibly the greatest scene of the 90s… (well, for me anyway).

suzanne neville wedding dress blog post

So, back in May, I told my bridesmaids about the two designers I wanted to visit in London and we got the weekend organised. To say I was excited was an understatement; I was practically bouncing off the walls when we arrived on Sunday and couldn’t sleep that night. Having already worked in bridal fashion, I’m quite clued up on what I want and also know the process is possibly going to be harder for me because of that exact reason.

Before working at Ever After, I worked at a bridal shop in Plymouth, and before that one in Exeter. Partner that with growing up in the wedding industry, I’ve started my wedding dress shopping journey in quite a unique position. I worked in bridal fashion for 2 years and in that time also studied both beginner and advanced pattern cutting, so my love for wedding dress goes a lot deeper than just ‘loving them’. From working in bridal shops I also know what it takes to create an enjoyable appointment, and that it’s the stylist’s job to make the bride feel comfortable, welcome, and special. Dictating to someone what they should be wearing will never work. You have to watch them in the dresses they select and go from there. As a stylist, it’s your job to listen to the bride’s wedding dress vision, and use your knowledge of the dresses in your store to find the perfect one for her. Any good stylist will be able to look at a woman’s figure and know what will look best on her, but at the same time not be discouraging if she’s choosing shapes that aren’t right for her. Instead it’s important to gently suggest silhouettes and bodices etc and work with her from there. At the end of the day, what the bride chooses is up to her. And even if you think she’d look better in something else, your main priority is making her feel as happy as possible, whatever she is wearing.

Anyway, less about that and more about Suzanne Neville…

Suzanne Neville

suzanne neville wedding dress blog post

The first designer we visited was Suzanne Neville. Because my parents also work in the wedding industry, they remember Suzanne at her very first time exhibiting at Harrogate and have watched her grow into the designer she is now. So my mum was especially excited to visit her store and see what wonderful dresses she has crafted. I was slightly nervous when we arrived at the store, but as soon as we were introduced to our stylist for the appointment, Harriet, I immediately felt better.

Suzanne Neville creates some absolutely stunning gowns, and is known for her corseted bodices and elegant silhouettes. What draws me most to her designs are their timeless elegance, and how she isn’t too ‘OTT’ or bold with her designs, yet still manages to be modern and creative. She combines traditional pattern cutting with contemporary touches; even as small as just a lower cut beneath the arms. Personally, I love the traditional structure of a wedding dress (e.g. the corseted bodices) because it feels like nothing you’ve worn before or probably will ever again. And if a dress is made properly and fits you correctly then it will always be comfortable. If it’s not then it either doesn’t fit right or has been poorly made.

suzanne neville wedding dress blog postsuzanne neville wedding dress blog post

suzanne neville wedding dress blog post

 

The Experience

The shop itself is in Knightsbridge (which is one of the wealthiest areas in London) and only just down the road from Harrods, so I was expecting to feel quite intimidated. However, the store is located on a modest street which itself is very charming and not too intimidating at all. The building is quaint and has character, including a spiral staircase down to the loos and additional dress storage. The room we were in was carpeted and felt so comfortable and inviting. The shelves were stocked with beautiful headpieces and footwear, and the dresses were all accessible and kept in wonderful condition. The changing room was the perfect size; not so small that you felt cramped whilst getting changed, but not so big that you felt exposed and uncomfortable.

suzanne neville wedding dress blog post

Harriet was a dream. She listened to my hopes for the ‘perfect’ wedding dress and did everything she could to help make the vision in my head a reality in the store. I was quite fussy about a few elements of the fit, and Harriet kept finding me dresses until I said ‘this is exactly the fit I mean’. We worked through different necklines by adding jackets or taking away straps, and she even dug out a dress from a collection years ago just so I could sample that particular fabric. I felt like she not only listened to what I had to say, but she cared and genuinely wanted to help me find my perfect wedding dress. She also understood how important the dress is to me (partly because her job is working with wedding dresses as mine used to be, so she totally got where I was coming from). I went into that appointment worried I might never find the perfect wedding dress, and came out genuinely believing that I could find it in there.

Unfortunately, the second appointment could not have been more opposite. For the sake of professionalism, I won’t mention where we went next. It was honestly a heartbreaking experience, not just for me but also for my mum and bridesmaids who came with me. We walked into the shop and I was naturally intimidated by it’s grandeur. It was elaborate and beautiful, and probably exactly how you would picture the ‘perfect’ wedding dress shop. But looks aren’t everything. We were offered champagne, again, a lovey touch which in theory should enhance the experience. But sometimes a bad experience just cannot be enhanced… But more on that in my next post! Stay tuned.