I get asked this question a lot: “What do we wear for our engagement session?”. It can be a little overwhelming to select outfits. This may be your first time getting professional photos done since your high school senior portraits. I hope that by sharing tips on how to select great outfits and how to feel your best, it will take the nerves away! All of my couples have access to me to ask questions. Especially, if it’s regarding outfits.
A lot of my couples will bring a couple extra outfits to the session. I can always help you pick if you don’t know which ones work best. The bottom line of any outfit is how does it make you feel. If you put on the dress and you feel like a million bucks – that’s a keeper! If you are putting on a dress and just aren’t sure about how the bottom hem cuts across your knees, then look for another dress or outfit. Whatever you are worried about in front of the mirror, you are going to be worried about during pictures.
My first suggestion is to always start looking for outfits early. For family portraits for us (or even our engagement photos), I started selecting outfits about a month out. This gave me enough time to really look around at what we had in our closets. It also gave me time at various shops to see what looked good together.
Starting this early makes it less stressful. If you find your outfit the first week then, you don’t have to worry about a thing. But, if you are taking a little bit more time to decide then, you have those extra weeks. If you wait till the week of to select your outfits then, it might be way more stressful. I always want my couples to avoid stress. So, start planning early to save yourself that last minute stress!
My couples always have 2 outfits they bring to their engagement session. One dressy and one more casual. The definition of dressy and casual is always a little different for each couple, but we want to have a good jumping off point. I have had some girls who wear dresses for both – the Dressy dress is more formal or flowing and the casual dress is shorter and has a different structure than the first dress. Most brides opt for either 2 dresses or 1 dress and 1 outfit that is cute jeans/shorts and a top ( think if you were going out for a nice dinner with your fiancé!). No matter if you select 2 dresses to bring or just 1 and a more casual outfit – you will never be overdressed for your engagement photos! If anything, always plan to be a little over-dressed!
It is always best to have coordinating outfits, but not matching outfits. So, you are wearing a blue dress – he does not have to be in the same light blue color for his shirt. He could easily be in a neutral that maybe has a dark blue stripe in it. The idea is to be in similar color families. One person in a neutral color is great if the other person has a busier pattern on ( think if you are in a floral dress – he has a basic button down colored shirt on or even a white shirt on)
You can never be to overdressed for your engagement session – repeat that to yourself! Dresses that are long, flows and have movement when you twirl around means that it will come across in the camera as more of a romantic feel to the photos. Skirts that are long are also great options if you don’t want to wear a full dress.
I have been able to photograph so many adorable dresses that moved and flowed and they truly do provide great movement to the photos. A flowing dress adds a whole new element to the photograph. If you are not wanting to add a dress to your wardrobe a great option that a lot of our brides have used is Rent The Runway. It is a great website where you can shop for an amazing dress, see photos of the dress on real people and rent the dress! So many of our brides have done this and love it!
The casual outfit can either be another dress that has a totally different feel or classic jeans/khakis shorts/ skirt, etc with a cute top. The main idea behind having a second outfit is to give you more looks and a more diverse look overall to the engagement session.
Guys – the same goes for you that you can never be to dressy for the engagement photos. If your bride is in a beautiful long dress, then you need to match the dressiness ( that is totally a word right? ) Don’t be scared of suits, sport jackets, dress pants. Those provide gorgeous clean lines to match her dress. Make sure you pay attention to your shoes and bring the right shoes to match your outfit. The casual outfits can easily be jeans or khakis and mix it up a bit with adding a sports coat to it or taking it away. The camera loves layers and having options of sport coat on and off adds more dimension to the photos. A lot of guys tend to go to a plaid pattern which is good, just make sure it is a big plaid pattern and not to small.
I touched on this a little in the Men’s wardrobe area. Have you ever flipped through an Anthropologie or Jcrew magazine? Or really, any magazine – Target does this too with their models – They dress in layers. They have a top on and then a jacket or cardigan over it. Having layers adds dimension and versatility to the photos. It gives you something to hold on to, to through over your shoulder, to button up or unbutton or totally take off.
Dress up your outfit with a gorgeous statement necklace or fun earrings! It is best to pick 1 piece of jewelry that is going to make a statement. Make sure to keep the rings minimal as we want your engagement ring to be the star ring!
It is always a great idea to schedule to get your hair and makeup done for the engagement session. This is a great time to get a little pampering in! Who doesn’t love getting their hair done! I know after I get my hair cute, my hairdresser dries my hair, curls it and styles it. Getting your hair done can be as simple as what your hair dresser does after she cuts your hair or it can be more elaborate. That is totally up to you! I will say that it isn’t a good time to try a totally new style or a new hair dresser/salon that you have never been to or tried out. Go to someone who knows your hair, knows what you like, and how you like it styled.
My story: I have a pretty tried and true classic curl hair style that I wear all the time for night outs. All of my hair in loose curls is my go to for any pictures that we have. Have I mastered this style to the point where I can do it for pictures – Yes, but, I know for a fact that when my hair dresser curls my hair the curls stay 100% times better than if I just curl them myself. I can use the exact same products in my hair and everything – but for some reason my curls will just not stay anywhere near as long as my hairdressers curls. I have no idea why, that is just how it is. The curls she does stays even when its humid outside… mine go stick straight!
Makeup – This is a great time to test out the person that you are using for your wedding day makeup! This doesn’t have to actually be your trial run for your wedding day makeup – but a great trial run anyway with your makeup artist. The more times you work with any vendor, the more they are going to learn about you and what you like/dislike. Having your makeup done gives you the extra little bump in confidence! Make sure that they do the makeup in natural light or with a natural light ring! That holds true for the wedding day as well!
You outfit is unique to you and your personality. These photos show off you two as a couple and your personalities together. It is so much fun to get dressed up, have your hair and makeup done – but make sure that you are staying true to yourself! I wore cowboy boots for my shoes on our casual outfit – why? because it is me. I am either wearing cowboy boots or flipflops. Would it have been cuter to wear the trendy little booties that are all the rage right now? Yes… but my cowboy boots are way more me than any cute little trendy booties. Now, I did make sure I cleaned the mud off of the cowboy boots! HA, so just because they are my tried and true shoe, I did make sure they were clean for photos.
Those last 3 pictures are perfect examples where the girls have on floral dresses and the guys are complimenting their outfits by having a solid white or colored shirt that matches the dressiness of the girls! Every guy’s shirt has a color that pulls from a color in her dress.
The last 2 examples are great at the two different dressy and casual outfit ideas!
Make it yours! Stay true to you two and your personalities! Adding pets into photos is such a fun way to add a new dynamic to the photos.
I am an Ohio based photographer who loves photographing weddings and engagements, traveling to beautiful sandy beaches, running after our adorable son Wyatt and border collie Bentley. A chips and salsa freak. Lover of coconut smelling lotions - candles - tea - desserts and... well anything that smells coconuty, and finally warm summer nights on our patio! Come hang out with me on Instagram and Facebook!