Singaporebrides | Photography
My Pre-Wedding Photoshoot Experience at The Botanic Gardens and Llyod’s Inn
Despite my experience with weddings and photoshoots, when it came to my own pre-wedding photoshoot, I still did not know what to expect. And for those of you who feel exactly the same way as I did, allow me to share my experience with you.
Dduring my four years as Sub-Editor of SingaporeBrides, I have seen, wrote about, and dreamt of more than my fair share of weddings. So when the time came for me to plan my own wedding and pick my wedding vendors, I knew exactly what and who I wanted to work with for my big day. To be more exact, I had a shortlist of talents I had met through work, and did what most brides did – email them to enquire on their rates and availability.
My husband, Eugene, entrusted me with the task of picking our pre-wedding photographer (and most of our wedding vendors) because I was more familiar with the process than he was. And I chose Fiona from Smittenpixels Photography. The beautiful engagement shoots she did for Melody and Brad, and Tricia and Jonathan struck a chord within me, and I couldn’t help but subconsciously tuck her away under my imaginary list of wedding photographers for when my turn to wed came. And when it did, she was the perfect fit for us.One of my favourite BTS photos!
While I’ve been part of many photoshoots during my time at SingaporeBrides, I’ve never once been in front of the camera as its subject. I didn’t know what to expect for my own pre-wedding shoot, what to do or what to bring. Fiona was ever so helpful in sharing what her couples usually do for their pre-wedding shoot and suggesting concepts and locations, despite her busy schedule. Above all, I love that she was sincere, passionate, emotive and open – just like her photography.
Even with Fiona’s help, Eugene and I had trouble finding a concept we both liked. We had completely opposite ideas of what we wanted for our shoot, which often meant we’d end up in an argument – and we did. But it wasn’t until we stumbled upon Llyod’s Inn’s beautiful, contemporary and minimalist rooms on Instagram that we were finally in agreement. Because their rooms resembled our vision of our future home, we thought it was the perfect space for us since ours wasn’t ready yet.Ta-da! Loved the look Valerie did for me, especially my brows! All ready to conquer our first photoshoot together!
We got up in the wee hours of the morning to prepare for our hair and makeup with Valerie from TangYong Hair and Makeup, and even though we barely had two hours of sleep the night before, we were rather pumped with excitement. We even got in some push-ups and planks for a last minute boost in hopes of making our arms look toner (and his chest a little bigger) while waiting for Valerie. It was such a funny sight, with both us getting down on the ground in push-up position simultaneously, that I wished we had that moment on record!
Valerie was another talent I had always admired on Instagram and wanted to work with. I loved her naturally glowy makeup style and versatile hairstyles in her portfolio, and she executed the look I wanted to perfection with just a reference image from Pinterest. I was impressed with her speed, eye for detail, precision and ability to deliver the braided up-do I wanted, despite the challenge my shoulder-length hair presented. Above all, I adored her effervescent personality. She was so chirpy at 5am it was infectious!Goofing around when we’re not ‘officially’ on camera. < It takes a little skill walking in a floor-length gown, especially if it’s your first time.
Because we wanted to catch the beautiful, soft morning glow and avoid the curious stares of on-lookers (and also, avoid bumping into other couples who were doing their shoots at the Gardens), we arrived at the Singapore Botanic Gardens bright and early. While we did not have to wait for our turn at the swings or the gazebo, we did meet several early-risers who congratulated us as they walked by. Our cab driver even thought we were getting married that day because we were in full wedding attire!
For all the brides who are planning for an outdoor pre-wedding shoot in their wedding gowns, you can forget about being cool – literally. I mean, you’ll have to pretend to look cool and glamourous and serene, but you won’t actually be all of that – not when there isn’t a whisper of wind slipping under your skirt to cool your legs down and the lining is plastered to your legs because it is wet with perspiration. Oh, and bring along a portable fan, and preferably an assistant (I got my niece to come along for the shoot!) to hold the fan (and the rest of your stuff so you don’t have to look even more unglamourous moving your things from place to place) to keep your face cool so your makeup won’t run as fast in the sweltering heat. Plus, you’ll also have someone to take behind-the-scenes footage of the shoot like I did.A very awkward attempt at making my arms look smaller with the hand-on-waist pose. More goofing around in between shots! I’m still a little too short for my chin to rest on Eugene’s shoulders, even though I’m in 3-inch heels.
For most part of the time I spent in my wedding gown, I was overly aware about how I looked in it. I spent so much time wondering if my belly stuck out or whether my arm looked fat at that angle that I couldn’t relax much, although I think being in a tight corseted dress had something to do my inability to let go. On hindsight, I realised that it wasn’t my job to worry about all those things. I had but one responsibility that day – that is to be myself, jutting stomach, flabby arms and all, and let Fiona take control over what looks good and what doesn’t.
It also didn’t help that I wasn’t a natural at smiling candidly or looking serene on cue. Thankfully, I had some help in coaxing my face into some semblance of a natural smile. Fiona would urge me to think of something happy or remind me to relax my facial muscles if my expression turned painfully awkward, while my husband secretly tickled me or issued (friendly) threats with a goofy smile on his face.Trying a lean-in drama pose, but ended up looking more like I’m grabbing Eugene by the collar. Oops! Fiona’s very hands-on, from adjusting my gown to showing us poses! My husband, the goofball. Ack! Awkward smile!
At the end of the day, we were thoroughly exhausted. But as tiring as the shoot was, it was equally as fun. While most of the day went according to plan, we did encounter a handful of hiccups here and there, because, well, life isn’t always perfect. Part of the reason for going to the Gardens was so I could shoot at the gazebo by the Swan Lake. While every other wedding couple was photographing at the white gazebo, otherwise known as the Bandstand, I was madly in love with the vintage intricacy of this one.
Unfortunately, it was just not meant to be. We did get a few shots of us at the gazebo, but we felt bad that the cleaning uncle, with his machine and hose all prepared to wash the area, was waiting for us to wrap up our shooting, so we hurriedly did a few shots. I would have loved to have spent more time at the gazebo, getting a variety of shots done, but what can I say, fate is fate.Trying to relax my facial muscles in between shots.
Our sunset session at the lalang grass fields in Tuas also didn’t turn out as I’d planned. The main reason I chose that location was for an unobstructed view of the sunset. But there was no sunset that day! My dreams of capturing the lovely warm glow of the sunset were dashed when 7pm drew closer but the sky showed no signs of breaking into an orange-blue hue.
But despite everything, I enjoyed the shoot immensely – we both did. We had fun, our photos turned out stunning and we made life-long memories that day. While I wouldn’t say we’d volunteer for a second photoshoot anytime soon (or ever), a pre-wedding shoot is definitely an experience that every couple should go through.
For a preview of my official pre-wedding photos by Smittenpixels Photography, read Audrie and Eugene’s Dreamy Pre-Wedding Shoot.
All images by Audrie & Eugene.