14/08/2014 16:34 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Bride-To-Be Blog: What It's REALLY Like To Have An Engagement Shoot

Bride-to-be blogger Claire Adams likes taking pictures with friends. But being the subject of a lovey-dovey pre-wedding, engagement shoot? Not up her street. At least that's what she thought until she had one...

I love photos but something Lee and I are really keen to avoid is those cliché wedding pics.
In fact, we've said from the start we really don't want to have the staged "bride being held by the ushers" type of shots. We'd rather create a much more natural wedding album.

When I spoke to our photographer Andy Paradise spoke about meeting to talk through initial thoughts and ideas he asked if we had considered booking an engagement shoot.

I immediately said no - surely this was everything we wanted to avoid? Staged embraces as we lovingly gaze into each other's eyes... I wasn't keen. And if I wasn't keen, I knew that Lee would hate the idea.

Andy explained he really recommends it as it gives him an opportunity to get used to us and us to the camera. Plus we would get some lovely photos we could keep as a special memory of the build-up to the big day. I eventually came around to the idea and he suggested we meet at Virginia Waters.

Admittedly I didn't really tell Lee what I'd arranged with Andy, just that we were going to meet the photographer for a chat. It was only when we were in the car and on our way to the beauty spot he started to get suspicious. "Why are we meeting at Virginia Waters instead of the venue?" "Why did you put extra make up on this morning?" "Why do you keep smiling at the mirror?" I felt bad and had to (partly) come clean.

"The photographer said while we're here he may as well bring his camera so he can take a couple of shots of us - kind of like a practice run!" Lee didn't look very happy. "Like an engagement shoot?" he asked. I was shocked - I didn't even realise he was aware of such things.

At the meeting point, I spotted Andy immediately. He had his (rather large) camera and a very professional looking light reflecting object. Lee looked like he wanted to kill me – "This isn't just a couple of pictures at all is it?" I pretended not to hear him say that and rushed over to greet Andy while hurriedly explaining Lee may need some time to warm up a little...

At first it was slightly awkward but once we found a little hide away in the trees we both loosened up and were chatting and laughing while Andy snapped away.

As we leaned against a large oak tree Lee whispered sweet nothings in my ear mainly consisting of "I am going to throw you in the river for this" but it was well worth it for the setting which was absolutely beautiful (and that did make me laugh).

As Andy wrapped up and showed us some sample shots I actually felt pretty relieved we had decided to go for the practice run. I felt a lot more prepared for the big day ahead and had quickly got used to Andy and his stream of commands (Claire rest your head on Lee's shoulder, Lee look to the ground, Claire look to the sky...).

A couple of weeks later, Andy emailed over a selection of his favourites and I was really pleased - we actually look surprisingly natural, happy and in love.

Taking into account what went on behind the scenes that day I think I can happily say our photographer must be some kind of genius...

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