xinhui keith photoshoot.jpgThe writer and her husband in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. PHOTO: Pierre Torset Photography/Lee Xin Hui

Choosing to take your pre-wedding photos abroad usually means having to purchase an overseas shoot package from a local bridal studio. A cheaper alternative? Planning your own shoot and engaging the professionals directly from abroad, which lets you save on the photographer and makeup artist’s (or MUA for short) flight and accommodation costs.

Here’s what you should know if you are planning on doing so:

1. Have a Skype “interview” with your potential photographer
It’s the next best thing to a physical meet-up. This is crucial because working with a photographer you are comfortable with is the first step to getting great photos. We eventually went with the Paris Photographer Pierre Torset Photography (pierretorset@gmail.com), as my husband and I were immediately drawn to his relaxed vibe. During the 20-minute session with him, we knew we wanted to work with him. It was also comforting to find out that he had a perfect command of English.

2. Get recommendations for shoot locations
Besides saving you time on research, your photographer can also highlight crucial information that may not be easily found online, for instance, if a location is undergoing renovation. Thankfully, Pierre highlighted that in advance and we were able to make alternative plans without wasting precious shoot time.

3. Let your MUA know what she is working with
This is probably the biggest concern for any bride-to-be – figuring if you will end up with looks that are completely wrong for you. To reduce the likelihood of that happening, send over pictures of yourself, preferably in your gowns, before the shoot. Providing inspiration from Pinterest can also help her visualise the type of looks that you are comfortable with. Tip: choose an MUA who has experience working with Asian brides. I went with Mounira Boughanem (moonmua@gmail.com) and I am happy to report that I loved my look, and how it turned out in pictures.

xinhui prep.jpgGetting ready to head out! PHOTO: Lee Xin Hui

4. Rent an Airbnb apartment
Hotel rooms in Paris are typically small and very costly. Having a private apartment is relatively inexpensive, especially if you select one that is near your shoot locations, which lets you save on transport. Plus, the extra space allows you to do your hair and makeup in comfort. Tip: Ask your host for an ironing board or steamer before you arrive so you can iron out the wrinkles on your outfits.

xinuhi's flowers.jpgPHOTO: Lee Xin Hui

xinhui's flowers.jpgPHOTO: Lee Xin Hui

5. Check out the local florist
Besides the great weather and breathtaking scenery, the best part about doing your shoot in Paris is the wide variety of exotic blooms, which typically cost a bomb in Singapore. The day before our shoot, my husband and I took a stroll along Le Marais and quickly found ourselves in a quaint florist. Following examples from Pinterest, we were able to pick out similar flowers on our own before getting the florist to arrange them into a bouquet for the shoot. The best part: It cost us only 35 euros.

6. Get around on Uber
We found this to be an easy and reliable way to move from one location to the next. Before your shoot, have the exact location written down on a piece of paper and hand it to the driver when you board the taxi. They usually don’t mind waiting while you take some shots, but to be sure, get your photographer to converse with the driver.

xinhui cold.jpgPHOTO: Lee Xin Hui

7. Suit up (think coat, gloves and stockings!)
I learnt this the hard way on a chilly morning with the temperature falling below ten degrees. Unlike my husband who was toasty in his thermal wear (hidden under his suit), I was freezing in my sleeveless and backless gown. Although gloves and stockings don’t seem to offer much “protection” from the cold, you will still feel the difference.