Friday. Oh happy day!

This engagement shoot is filled to the brim with things that I LOVE beyond measure:

The seaside, ice-skating, books, a big bunch of multi-coloured balloons, dancing in the street, awesome photography, and…

My beautiful cousin Amie who is like the little sister I never had and one of the loveliest people I know. Her smile and zest for life are contagious and she can be a bit of a dork sometimes too. Just like me. Then there's Joe, Amie's fiance, who is just as lovely and such a welcome addition to the family!

Amie and Joe live in the quirky seaside town of Brighton and their favourite pastimes include: walks on the seafront, raving, going to the theatre, drinking, dancing, laughing, perusing the shelves of second hand book stores and just generally squeezing the most amount of fun possible out of every day.

Meet Amie and Joe in their natural habitat ~ the pub:

Planning The Engagement Shoot

A few months ago I heard on the Twitter grapevine that Neda of Neda Blake Photography was holding an engagement shoot competition so I encouraged Amie to enter as I knew her and Joe wouldn't have even considered an e-shoot otherwise. And needless to say we were thrilled to discover that they actually won!

Soon after, Amie, Neda and I had many an excited phone call/email talking about locations, props and styling. Basically the plan was for the shoot to be held in all of Joe and Amie's favourite places, to be bright, colourful and, above all else, fun.

When the day came the sun was shining, everyone was in high spirits and against all odds I managed to squeeze 15 balloons into my tiny, little car without popping any. Neda scouted out some fabulous locations and Amie decided to surprise Joe with an impromptu spot of ice skating by the pavilion.

There were tumbles on the ice, outfit changes under the pier using the infamous big bunch of balloons to preserve Amie and Joe's modesty and a LOT of jumping.

Joe is a brilliant writer (evidence here on his blog) so it was only right I ask him to share his perspective on the day. Here he ponders the existential question: ‘Am I a model now?'

Diary of an engagement shoot

In the unseasonable warm that was Brighton in late November, I ventured out onto the streets to take part in the growing phenomenon of the engagement shoot.  Thanks to a competition (that I was totally unaware of) and with a little help from Bridal Musings, I found myself at an ice-rink at 9am staring down the barrel of a camera.

I was as nervous as the day I proposed.  And the ice rink didn’t help.  With the aid of one of the little assistance penguins I managed to look like new-born Bambi trying desperately to look cool.  In a misguided attempt to mirror our photographer’s optimism and capture an ‘action shot’, I launched myself at my fiancé, collapsing in a heap several feet away and tackling women and children as I slid across the ice.  Desperately clutching at my penguin, I realised that the morning was panning out more like my proposal than I thought…balanced precariously on one knee, sure I was about to say something stupid and surrounded by a crowd of people wondering what the hell I was doing.

As the day wore on, and with a lot of help from Neda, my confidence grew and my nerves disappeared.  I would recommend an engagement shoot to anybody keen to capture the mad, exciting lead up to the big day.  Looking at the photos, Neda managed to capture the shots that reminded me why I fell in love with my fiancé in the first place, in the kind of relaxed atmosphere that will be impossible to recreate at the wedding.

As for whether I’m a model: almost certainly not.  But with a lot of hard work and clever editing, Neda managed to produce pictures that hide any trace of that.  If you intend to marry someone, trust is the most important element.  The lesson here: if your fiancé tells you that you will be taking part in an engagement shoot; trust them.  The results will far outweigh any last-minute nerves.

Under the boardwalk…where things got a little darker and edgier.

For these next set of images, there is a poem (one of Joe's favourites and soon to be a tattoo) that you need to read to get what they are all about.

Dance like everyone’s watching,

Rave because one day you’re dead,

Smile cos it might be catching,

Live like you just don’t care.

I made a few signs to incorporate into the shoot by printing out words/phrases from the poem and sticking them onto polystyrene boards. I also drew a very rough princess crown and frog after Amie saw a cute picture on Pinterest that she wanted to use in the shoot.

Let the jumping commence!

Even I got in on the jumping act.

Yes, I gatecrashed my own cousin's engagement shoot. I'm not proud of it. It was the heady mix of multi coloured balloons, blue skies and Brighton beach. I'll post the photo(s) on Facebook for anyone who want to see me in action!

Note the impossibly long and stripy ‘Dr Who' scarf ~ perfect for snuggling in together as the sunlight fades.

These two are made for each other ~ you can see it in every single photo.

I'm so happy for them and seriously can't wait for their colourful, carnival, ‘Amie & Joe' themed wedding in Brighton next September!

I've managed to rope Amie into doing a spot of ‘real bride' guest blogging for us to share her thoughts and plans ~ hurrah! Maybe, if we ask really nicely we can get Joe back to share his groomly musings too?!

I want to say a great big thank you to Neda for all her hard work and for sharing these awesome photos with us today. I can't recommend Neda and her photography enough ~ she was fantastic! She really put Amie and Joe at ease and went above and beyond to get ‘the shot'. Even after the shoot, she worked so hard editing the photos to perfection.

Like what you see?  You can have an Engagement or Couple shoot with Neda until 31st January for the discounted price of only £95 for two hours of photo magic! Head on over to the Neda Lahrodi Blake Photography website or Facebook page to see more of her gorgeous photography and to get in touch.