Some of the links on this site are affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you make a purchase at no extra cost to you.(Last Updated On: August 1, 2020)I remember the time when we posted some of our photos online as teasers, some people thought we had our photo shoot on a volcano. Our team was able to make into reality the photo shoot ideas that we wanted. Mike and I chose Cebu as our main photo shoot location because this is where we met each other. Cebu is one of the top travel destinations in the Philippines. The capital of the province is Cebu City. It is the first capital and the oldest city in the Philippines. Cebu City is known as the “Queen City of the South”. Both of us have been to Cebu before we met but we have never explored all of Cebu. This province has so many travel destinations that will always keep coming back for more. Aside from photo shoot ideas, we also include a Cebu travel guide in this post to guide you if you are planning a trip to Cebu. Book Guided Cebu City And Nature Tours here >>
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What is a prenup photo shoot?Prenuptial or prenup photo shoot, sometimes called an engagement photo shoot, is a fun and creative way of soon-to-be-wed couples to commemorate their wedding. Few photos are usually shared as pre-wedding teasers while the rest will be part of a video or slideshow presentation during the wedding reception. Is it a photo shoot or photoshoot? Read here >>
Our photo shoot ideasMike and I wanted to show some of the famous travel destinations in Cebu through our prenup photos since we are both travellers. The initial photo shoot ideas were:
Malakas and MagandaOne of my ultimate photo shoot ideas is to show the origin of Malakas and Maganda. Malakas means strong while maganda means beautiful. In Philippine folklore, Malakas and Maganda are the first man and woman who came out of a bamboo node after being struck by a bird. It did not happen in this photo shoot as Geof and Mike were a little conservative.
Osmena PeakMike and I love to hike mountains. We have hiked Mount Hallasan, the highest peak in South Korea during our first year anniversary celebration as a couple. So another one of my photo shoot ideas was on top of the highest peak in Cebu which is the Osmena Peak.
Temple of LeahBeing a fan of the Roman and Greek architecture, one of my photo shoot ideas was to do several poses inside the Temple of Leah.
Sirao GardenMike loves flowers since he was raised by his grandmother who was very good at gardening. My last of my photo shoot ideas was to be in the middle of Sirao Garden, the Little Amsterdam of Cebu.
Photo shoot locationsThe Temple of Leah and the Sirao Garden, known as the Little Amsterdam, are both almost an hour away from the airport and are a few minutes away from each other. On the other hand, the Osmena Peak and the Kawasan Falls are both approximately 4 hours away from the airport and are more than an hour away from each other.
Photo shoot length and timingDue to distances of the photo shoot locations, Mike and I agreed to do our prenup shoot for two days. We will start first with the locations that are far from the city then the ones that are near the city. Also, Mike is not always in the Philippines so we make the most of what we can do together when he visits. We scheduled our prenup photo shoot when he visited last April 2017. This month is the peak of the hot dry season so most people are at the beach. It is also part of the school break season that’s why most travel destinations are crowded. We scheduled our photoshoot on weekdays to avoid the crowd .
Change of plansAside from styling, our creative director Geof Lagria also managed our itinerary and logistics which was very convenient for us since I stay in Manila and Mike is in the US. He advised us that there were fewer flowers in Sirao Garden and a flock of tourists in Kawasan Falls in April so we needed to consider alternatives. Book Celosia Flower Farm, Sirao and Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary Half Day Tour here >>
Our photo shoot preparationGeof was always on top of everything which made our lives easier. This was our first photo shoot as a couple so we’re glad he guided us. Here’s our pre-photoshoot checklist of things to have or to do.
- Silicon Pads – for backless outfit
- Nude Strapless Bra – for spaghetti strap, off shoulder and the like tops
- Manicure and Pedicure – nude or french tip is preferred but not required as long as the nails are properly trimmed and clean
- Dark Gray Contact Lens – to add more beauty to your eyes on top of makeup
- Brown Tone Hair Color – to make your hair look natural and beautiful in your photos
- Hair Extension – not required but it depends on your photo shoot peg, most women prefer long wavy hair in their photo shoot
- Haircut – get a haircut to match your photo shoot peg
- Facial Grooming – groom your face depending on your photo shoot peg
- Nail Grooming – nails should be properly trimmed and clean
GeneralI prefer not to pack several shoes on this trip and to shop for accessories and props. I’m glad our stylist provided the following:
- Shoes – should match your outfit, Mike brought his own as his size is not available with our stylist
- Accessories – examples are jewelries, hat or headpieces and should match your outfit
- Props – examples are balloons, fairy lights, bubbles, confetti and the likes, this is not required and will depend on your theme and preference
Pre-photo shoot must-do
- Hydrate well before the day of the photo shoot. Aside from the health benefits of being well-hydrated, you may not be able to hydrate too much during the photo shoot. You may not want to go to the toilet frequently while in a formal dress or when there’s no available toilet like in Osmena Peak.
- Eat healthy but not too much. Keep a balanced diet. Include fruits and vegetables in your meals so your skin will benefit too.
- Get enough sleep because you will want your eyes to look good in your photos. Don’t get all the magic from the makeup!
- Exercise so your body looks toned.
- Moisturize your face and skin. Use eye cream too! Applying makeup is easier to do on healthy skin.
- Do number 2 before you leave your home or hotel on the day of your photo shoot.
Pre-photo Shoot No-No’s
FacialIf you will have one, get it a week or two before the photo shoot. I had a facial with diamond peel a few days before our photo shoot. My face was so rough on the photo shoot day due to the diamond peel. Good thing, my makeup artist is a pro and used her magic on me. Facial may also make your face swell or have red spots.
Hair ColorThis should be done a few days or a week before the photo shoot. Doing this too early will show the hair growth from the roots that have a different color. A retouch will make you spend twice on a hair color service at the salon.
ConditionerDon’t use a hair conditioner when you shower before the photo shoot so it will not be difficult to set your hair style.
NailsAs this should be part of your personal hygiene, putting too much focus on your nails depends on your shots. If you will have shots focusing on your hands or fingers especially when wearing your engagement ring, this is a must! Trim and clean your nails for the photo shoot a day before its schedule as our nails grow fast and can get dirty when we do something. If you will go for a manicure and pedicure service, go to the salon a day or few days before your photo shoot to prevent nail growth from being visible or accidents. I opted for french tip style and the nail polish on a tip chipped a day before our photo shoot. Going for a gel type polish is safe but not required as this is more expensive too.
Other photo shoot needs
Body MeasurementsOur stylist needed our exact body measurements (without allowance) to prepare our photo shoot wardrobes. The following measurements were needed. Bride-to-be: Shoulder, Bust, Waistline, First Hip, Second Hip, Full Length Groom-to-be: Shoulder, Arm Length, Chest, Waistline, Pants Length We went to an alteration shop in a mall to have our measurements taken by an expert since our stylist needed it before we arrived in Cebu. Geof was skeptical about the measurements done to us so he visited us in our hotel room when we arrived in Cebu a day before the photo shoot. He was also skeptical when I said I don’t need hair extensions so he checked it too and requested our Hair and Makeup Artist (HMUA) to provide one for me.
Van RentalOur contracts with our Cebu suppliers specified that we will be the one to provide transportation. We have a big team which includes our photographers, videographers, HMUA, stylist including his assistant and my two sisters so we needed two vans. Ate Cora, a fellow dragon boat paddler from Cebu Mighty Dragons, assisted us with our van rentals. Thank you, Ate Cora! You may find van rentals with driver in Cebu here.
MealsOur contract stated that we are to provide the meals too. Even if not required in the contract, it will be nice to provide snacks or meals to your photo shoot team. It’s recommended to allocate a budget for meals.
Our photo shoot sessions and itineraryEach day, we needed to wake up early because the hair and makeup session was done in our hotel before we started the travel to our photo shoot locations.
Photo shoot day 1
Tumalog FallsHabal-habal roundtrip: Php 50 Entrance fee: Php 20 Opening hours: Everyday 6AM to 5PM Tips: Go early to avoid the crowd, always check with the locals if it’s currently dry or not Instead of the original plan to have a photo shoot in Kawasan Falls, we did it in Tumalog Falls. This waterfall is in Oslob, 4 to 5 hours away from the airport. Only habal-habal or motorcycle taxi rides are allowed to go near the waterfall. Our vans parked at the designated parking area then each of us rented a habal-habal. The rider who took you to the waterfall is the one who will do your return trip. After paying the fees, our HMUA gave us a retouch and our stylist dressed us up at the lounge near the toilet area then we walked to the waterfall. It may not be as crowded as the Kawasan Falls but we were welcomed by a crowd too. It is recommended to arrive early. We arrived at a later time since we travelled all the way from Cebu City then we had lunch before we went to Tumalog Falls. I was hesitant how we could possibly make a good photo shoot here but I just trusted my team and they did not fail us. This was also the first session so we were still adjusting especially with me that Geof had to always remind me to point my toes so my legs will look longer. Book Private Whale Shark Tour & Tumalog Falls Option From Cebu Here >> Book Oslob Whale Shark and Tumalog Falls Day Trip from Dumaguete Here >>
Osmena PeakDifficulty: Minor Climb, 1013 MASL (Meters Above Sea Level) Entrance fee: Php 30 Best time to go: Late afternoon so you will not get toasted from the heat of the sun and also to catch the lovely sunset Osmena Peak is the highest peak in Cebu. Located in Dalaguete, this is absolutely one of best places to go in Cebu! After paying the entrance fee, the hike will take about 20 to 30 minutes depending on your pace. Hiking gears and shoes are optional as this is a minor climb. I hiked with my flip flops which was okay at first but it broke along the way! You can hike with your flip flops but get a durable one. When my flip flops broke, Mike lent me his slippers and he started hiking with his formal shoes! I love you, Michael!
So did we have our photo shoot on a volcano?Finally, one of my photo shoot ideas came to reality! And it is on top of the highest mountain in Cebu, not a volcano. We wrapped the day one of our photo shoots, had dinner along the way then returned to our hotel in Cebu City. Book Cebu Kawasan Waterfalls & Osmena Peak Day Tour Here >>
Photo shoot day 2
The RanchPhoto shoot fee: Php 3000 We arrived in the Temple of Leah only to find out that it was closed for renovation. The team had to decide quickly for an alternative and recommended the The Ranch Resort in Toledo City. The temperature was warmer on this day so we were sweating, especially Mike! We’re glad our horsey buddy did not mind the heat. One thing I can’t forget about this shoot was that we were asked to lie down on the floor. It may not look like it because they sweeped the dirt but those dirt included dry manure. And when they flew the drone, all dust and dirt went to our faces. Oh the things we do for a photo shoot!
The LabyrinthOpening hours: Everyday 9AM to 11AM and 1PM to 5PM Photo shoot fee: Php 2500 Also in Toledo City, our last photo shoot location was at the Labyrinth. After makeup retouch and change of wardrobe, they asked us to run inside the Labyrinth and to play while chasing each other. A brief rain shower started just before we began and we broke out umbrellas as we were prepared, but thankfully it only lasted a couple of minutes. You can imagine how uncomfortable it was to chase one another in our photo shoot attire and shoes in the heat, but when we look back at the video and pictures we realize how much fun it really was. When we reached the middle of the Labyrinth, we were asked to lie down then they flew the drone. Our team stayed at the entrance of the Labyrinth so that most shots will cover the whole Labyrinth. The thing with this setup was that when they flew the drone, it produced its own noise. Then our team was far from us so we could not hear what they were directing us to do. Mike and I just acted on our own even if the ants were already biting my back!
We cannot get out!Once they were satisfied with all the photo and video shots, we were told that the shoot was done but only to find ourselves lost in the Labyrinth! We cannot find the way out! They had to fly the drone again so they could see the paths and directed us which way to go. Remember the drone is noisy and the team was far from us! It was crazy but we love this experience and we treasure this kind of memory. Don’t worry, we were able to get out of the Labyrinth before the day ended.
Wedding suppliers in CebuMike and I agreed to get Cebu suppliers for our photo shoot so we don’t have to pay for flight and hotel costs and out of town fees.
Meet our photo shoot team
Hair and Makeup ArtistJanice The Beauty Fairy Janice was the first supplier I booked because she was recommended to me by my friend Dale from Cebu. She was friendly and an expert HMUA. A true beauty fairy!
PhotographerThe Prime Photo by Jerald Donal I chose Jerald when I was reviewing several portfolios because he got good reviews and I like his photography style when shooting with nature. He was accommodating and booking a photo shoot with him was a breeze too.
VideographerSneak Peek Aside from good reviews on his portfolio, I chose Mark because he was very nice and passionate. He was the perfect fit for our prenup video shoot ideas.
Stylist and Creative DirectorGeof Lagria Geof was already mentioned to me by Janice but at first, I thought hiring a stylist was unnecessary and just an additional expense. Good thing, Ella who just got married told me that one of her regrets in their prenup photo shoot was not hiring a stylist. I immediately talked to Mike and he agreed to hire one for our convenience. We were lucky that Geof was available on our dates. Discussing our photo shoot ideas to him was no sweat. It would have been a big regret if we did not hire Geof. He was the key person why our prenup photo shoot was a success. Behind the scenes (BTS) were managed by my sisters, Yra and Lerie.
Areas for improvementIt would have been nice if:
- our contracts were followed specifically on the output due dates
- the suppliers will initiate when the output will be delivered
- we will not receive reasons for delivery delay such as “We have a lot of events.”
BONUS!!! Cebu City Travel Guide
How to go to Cebu City
By PlaneIt will be more convenient to fly from Manila to Cebu. Flights from Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Taipei have direct routes to Cebu City. Search and compare flight prices here. You may download the Jetradar mobile app in iOS and Android to set price drop alerts. See our post on how to find cheap flights using Jetradar.
By FerryFerry from Manila to Cebu is available but travel will take about 22 hours. A ferry ride to Cebu is very convenient if you are coming from Bohol, Siquijor or Dumaguete. Search and compare below.
Where to stay in Cebu CityOn this trip, our friend May arranged our accommodation in Diamond Suites and Residences. It is a 3-star hotel that is just right across Ayala Mall in the city center of Cebu. We stayed in a double room with complimentary buffet breakfast. Room rates range from $29 to $66 (plus tax and other charges) per night. Accommodations based on budget range:
- A budget dormitory stay that is 5 minutes away from the airport
- Best for solo travellers
- No need for credit card or prepayment to reserve your stay
- One night stay for one person starts at $13 plus $1 for tax and other charges (P650 + P78)
- A dormitory stay with lovely murals in Cebu City that is liked by couples
- It has a bar and shared lounge
- One night stay for one person starts at $12 (plus $1) while for two persons starts at $24 (plus $2)
- An adult-only dorm and private room stay in Cebu City
- It has a restaurant, a bar with evening entertainment, a billiards table and an indoor pool!
- One night stay ranges from $10 to $46 plus taxes and other charges
- One of the bestsellers in Cebu City that has dormitory, private rooms and coworking space
- Perfect for solo travellers
- One night stay ranges from $12 to $59 plus taxes and other charges
- A colorful budget dormitory in Cebu City
- Perfect for solo travellers
- One night stay ranges from $8 to $14 plus taxes and other charges
- A 4-star business hotel overlooking the city with an infinity pool on the roof deck
- The hotel has a bar and restaurant serving fusion Asian and international dishes
- One night stay for two persons ranges from $101 to $116 plus taxes and charges
- A Cebuana officemate once told me to never leave Cebu without staying in the Plantation Bay
- It is a resort in Mactan offering 5-star amenities
- One night stay for two persons starts at $245 plus taxes and charges
Things to know when planning to go to Cebu City
Climate And AttireClimate in Cebu, like most places in the Philippines is tropical. Wet season is expected from May to October while the dry season happens for the rest of the year. While our seasons may be affected by climate change, there is not much to worry if you were not prepared with your clothing. It’s not like the summer that I thought when Mike told me when I arrived in San Francisco and also not like the summer they told us when we arrived in Switzerland. Most tourists can sustain our level of hot and cold weather. Pack clothings that will be comfortable with the humidity in the Philippines.
Other details about Cebu City
- No visa requirements for a stay not exceeding 30 days, passport has at least 6 months validity within the period of stay, and has a valid return flight ticket or to next destination
- Currency is Philippine Peso
- Several banks, ATMs and money changers are available
- Major establishments accept credit cards
- Most accommodations offer free wi-fi
- Power interruption is seldom in the city
- Cebu City is considered moderately safe based on its crime index rate