If you were anything like me, you grew up dreaming of being the perfect bride in the perfect wedding.

Your makeup flawless, your gown exquisite, your doting husband Disney-prince-perfect in an immaculate suit, and all set against a magnificent backdrop somewhere absurdly picturesque and romantic. Sound too good to be true? Well, this is all pretty standard in the wonderland world of the Asian pre-wedding shoot.

Less than 50 years ago, Chinese weddings were muted, repressed occasions, with compulsory blue Mao suits and passport-style wedding photos. Fast-forward half a century and the newly liberated Chinese are flexing their romantic muscles and making up for lost time. But the Chinese have a habit of starting trends, and now the culture of the pre-wedding shoot is spreading across Asia like ostentatious, stunning, well-dressed wildfire.

The Asian pre-wedding shoot isn’t just a photo shoot, it’s a couple’s opportunity to live a fantasy. Without the time pressure of the wedding day or the throngs of family members milling about and accidentally wandering into the shot, the pre-wedding shoot is the couple’s chance to take the shots they want to take. And I mean the ones they really want to take, the ones they’ve always dreamed of taking.

To the untrained eye, any shoot done with a couple to celebrate their engagement is just an engagement shoot, right? Oh no, no, no, no. No. Well, yes. But no.

A pre-wedding shoot is like an engagement shoot, on a night out with George Clooney…in Disneyland.

In China, whole fake towns have been built purely to serve as the backdrop for pre-wedding shoots. You can visit the English village of ‘Thamestown’, complete with lovely little cottages, cobbled streets and a picturesque white church. If this doesn’t take your fancy, you and your fiance can have couple shots set against the whitewashed buildings of the Mediterranean on the idyllic Greek Island of Santorini. Or maybe you want to be on the set of a Hollywood blockbuster? Whatever you want, it’s yours, and all within spitting distance of Shanghai.

But of course, to take it to the next level, you need to take it global. For one pre-wedding shoot I’ve done in the past, London was just one city in a pre-wedding world tour the couple were embarking on, celebrating their love in every one of their favourite cities on the planet.

Ischelle and Zihao came to London for their shoot with me just before Christmas. Needless to say, England’s capital city is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world, and the December chill adds an extra sparkle of stunning wintry romanticism. So where better than London at Christmas for a fantasy photo shoot?

While engagement shoots are usually pretty casual affairs, the pre-wedding shoot is something you dress up for. Really really dress up for. Unhindered by any ‘you mustn’t see the bride before the big day’ superstitions, back in the day couples would come to their pre-shoot in their proper wedding outfits. Some still do. Those who don’t still come dressed in phenomenal outfits, and Ischelle and Zihao were no exception.

For their pre-wedding shoot, Ischelle and Zihao had envisioned a wintry, Christmas-themed London shoot. For us modern Londoners, there’s nothing more quintessentially Christmassy than the epic backdrop of Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. With classic fair ground rides, Baileys hot chocolate, countless Santas, limitless mulled wine and a plethora of gobble-from-the-cone hot foods, Winter Wonderland is…well, a wonderland.

It’s also an awesome place for photos, so when I heard from Ischelle what kind of shoot she wanted, I immediately scheduled a trip to Hyde Park to scout out locations.

Ischelle and Zihao’s love for each other shines through in every shot. The fantastic outfits, the stunning- and sometimes surreal- backdrops, the wintry chill glossing every photo, together they combine to make what any pre-wedding shoot should be: a little bit fantastic, utterly beautiful and completely full of love.

I love doing pre-wedding shoots. The entourage of makeup artists, the attention to detail, the outfit changes, the sense of occasion, it’s all intoxicating. If you are ever in England and are having a pre-wedding shoot, I’m always excited to get involved and would love to work with you in bringing your vision to life. I can also recommend a great videographer, makeup artist, hair stylist, prop suppliers or florists if you’d like to add some extra-special touches to the day.

I hope to see you at your own pre-wedding shoot, please get in touch with me directly or complete the inquiry form to check if the date is free.