What is a prenup shoot and how do you plan one?
A prenup or engagement shoot is a great way to document your love story, have couple photos that are shot by a professional, give your photographer the chance to get to know you better (and vice versa), and learn to be at ease in front of the camera before the big day. It’s also a chance for you as a couple to take a break from all the wedding preparations and just enjoy each other’s company.
As wedding and portrait photographer Jaja Samaniego puts it, “An engagement shoot should be a great experience. The wedding planning is already [so] stressful; prenups should be fun!”
And part of the fun is finding a prenup location that’s perfect for you. Luckily, there are plenty of local destinations you can choose from.
As Jaja points out, “We’re very lucky to have beautiful islands in our country. Be it a beach, a mountain, or some open field, we have it all. For me the best location is different for every couple. It matters that the place they choose has a special connection to them.
“If they love the beach, it would be perfect to choose their favorite vacation getaway or even go to a beach they haven't been to. If they love to eat, they can go for a-day-in-the-life kind of shoot and literally go around the city and shoot in a nice restobar or some nice place they usually go to.
“It will depend on the kind of prenup shoot they want but for me, the best ones are the venues that show or complement the personalities of the subjects.”
Kristy Onglatco, External Relations Manager of SweetEscape Philippines, also offers some sage advice: “Start with a place that is or would be meaningful to you. It could be some place you have a personal history with, one that reflects your personalities or your love story, or a destination that you’ve both [been dreaming] of visiting and creating new memories in.”
Jaja adds, “Locations are just a mere background of a couple's love story. The shoot has to be about them and the location should complement their true personalities.”
Palawan (El Nido, Coron)
Anyone who’s ever visited El Nido or Coron, will not be surprised that Palawan is on the list. Breathtaking vistas, gorgeous blue waters, amazing rock formations, stunning lagoons—the place practically looks like it was made to order for prenups.
Wedding and fashion photographer Pat Dy couldn’t agree more, “I love nature, and what better way to showcase the Philippines than to have a shoot in locations like Coron and El Nido. These places have beautiful beaches, limestone backdrops for texture, and jade green waters.”
Destination wedding photographer Toto Villaruel also has Palawan on his list of top spots for prenup shoots, citing the incredible beaches and unique rock formations, too, as the reasons he's drawn to the island.
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
There’s something quite romantic about grand old Spanish-era Filipino houses, with their intricate grillwork, hardwood floors, balustrades, and characteristic capiz windows.
Kristy thinks so, too, saying that part of the attraction is that “the entire property is very romantic and has a very unique Filipino charm.”
At Las Casas in Bagac, Batangas, you’ll find a collection of Filipino ancestral homes restored and rebuilt within a resort that’s designed to take you right back to the past. The place perfectly captures the essence of a bygone era, and it’s easy to see why photographers and videographers have named it one of the best prenup shoot destinations in the country.
If it’s diversity you’re looking for, Toto recommends Ilocos. For him, aside from Palawan, Ilocos “best represents the beauty of the Philippines.”
Diversity is one of the three things he looks for when choosing a prenup location—natural light and the couples’ personalities being the other two. He explains, “I want to make sure we can maximize the place and also showcase its beauty.”
Indeed, the northern province offers a wide variety of backdrops for prenup shoots: It has everything from the Paoay sand dunes and the iconic Paoay Church to the Bangui windmills and the historical Calle Crisologo, as well as Pagudpud beach—every kind of landscape and setting you could ask for.
“Boracay may seem overrated but the charm of its powdery white sand, its pristine turquoise water, and its dramatic sunset is undeniable,” says Kristy.
And with the Department of Tourism’s recent efforts to clean up and rehabilitate the island, there’s no better time to revisit Boracay as a prenup destination than now.
We still have a long way to go, but changes are already being seen and felt on the island. For one, the world-famous White Beach has been “decluttered” of hotel chaise lounges and bar and restaurant seating, so there’s now more of the shore to enjoy…and take prenup photos from.
You don’t always have to travel far to find the perfect prenup shoot location. There are plenty of places in Metro Manila that could serve as backdrop for your engagement photos.
Escolta is top of mind with wedding photographers Jaja and Toto. “I am in love with Escolta right now,” shares Jaja. “There a lot of old buildings there, [like the] First United Building [where you can do prenup shoots.]”
Meanwhile, Toto names Graey Studio in Escolta, which has a cool New York-apartment aesthetic, as another fantastic location to stage a prenup shoot. “Then you can just step outside to get the Old Manila feel,” he says.
Jaja also recommends Poblacion in Makati, saying, “The streets in Poblacion are hip, too. If you're game to do a ‘guerilla’ shoot, there are a lot of interesting cafes and bars there.” As for Toto, his other go-to locations in Manila are “the Ninoy Aquino Wildlife Park for a nature look and BGC for an urban city look.”
According to SweetEscape's Kristy, “Batanes is [another popular] choice, [especially] if you're looking to get the look and feel of being in New Zealand. Full of green rolling hills and pasturelands, complete with cows and cattle, it serves as a refreshing treat for those who love the view of expansive greens and the experience of a peaceful rustic environment.”
Aside from the lush, verdant hills, there are plenty of romantic spots in this remote and tranquil island that would make the perfect backdrop for your prenup photos.
There’s the Basco Lighthouse, the distinctive Ivatan stone houses, Valugan Boulder Beach, and the breathtaking Fundacion Pacita.
It’s not just its unique and beautiful landscape, but the amazing structures on the island, as well, that has made Batanes a dream prenup destination.