December 28, 2020
You did it! You said yes, you picked the date, and found the right photographer for your wedding. Now, we get to pick out what to wear to your engagement session and find the perfect location. This is where the fun begins! Your engagement session will give you a little taste of what your wedding will feel like. You and your fiancé, dressed to the nines, and ready to announce to the world how much you love each other. I know you might have some nerves about being in front of the camera, but don’t worry. I’m going to guide you through it and give you lots of opportunities to snuggle up together and enjoy each other’s company. Make the most of the day by planning a date night out at the end of your session! What better way to end a day that celebrates your love story?!
One of the first things on your mind is probably what to wear for your engagement session. Think of these photos as your first family portraits. This is a time to celebrate the start of your life together and show off your best looks. Most couples choose two outfits–one that is their formal or statement outfit, and the other more casual, but still dressed up. “Overdressed” is not in my vocabulary when it comes to engagement sessions. For your more formal outfit, go ahead and upgrade from the church dress to that evening gown if that’s what you’re feeling–you won’t regret it!
Your save-the-date announcements are not the right time for matching T-shirts and sweaters in the exact same color. Instead, you’ll want to coordinate your outfits in a cohesive color scheme without matching exactly. If you’re unfamiliar with color schemes, they are colors that are complementary but not too close on the color wheel. Solid colors, neutrals, and flattering silhouettes are always winners. Neutral colors that are easy to pair include blushes, tans, light pinks, faint blues and light minty teals, creams, grays and whites.
Try to avoid wearing bright reds, neons, bright oranges, bright yellow, and similar colors. They can reflect color onto your skin and be unflattering. Avoiding these extra bold colors means all the attention is on your faces and the love you share. Remember this session is about capturing those authentic emotions — adoration, comfort, joy. Wear what makes you feel great, and
Each of you should have one main color for your outfits, and the other garments and accessories should be fairly neutral. Too many colors can be distracting in an image. Start with one of your outfits–usually the ladies–and then plan the coordinating outfit. If you have a floral pattern dress or bold color you want to rock, your partner should wear something more neutral to maintain a nice visual balance. Avoid more than one pattern, or very small patterns. If you’re stumped, I’m happy to help!
We ladies tend to be a little more self-conscious about our appearance. These tips should help you dress with confidence! I recommend skipping pants or shorts for your session and choosing a skirt or dress. A-line skirts and dresses that cinch at the waist are flattering to most body types. Long, flowy fabrics add movement and intrigue to images, especially with textured fabric, tulle, or dresses with flowy layers. For a romantic photoshoot, this is a super sweet touch! Dark, deep colors can look heavy, but we will absolutely make that work if, for instance, jewel tones are your favorite.
If your dress is not full length, heels elongate the legs and can help with flattering posture. For those of you out there who are as clumsy as I am, don’t worry– you don’t have to wear stilettos! A little kitten heel can do the trick. If you’ve chosen a location where heels will be difficult to walk in, slip some flip flops or flats into your bag to help you transition between locations.
If your sleeves or skirt length end right at any of your joints, you may find it looks awkward in photos. For instance, sleeves that end at your elbows and skirts that hit right at the knee are not so flattering. Instead, look for cap sleeves, three-quarter sleeve, skirts that hit a few inches above the knee, mid-calf, or full lengths skirts and dresses. Three-quarter sleeves are slimming and look super elegant! Not sure where to shop? I have linked my recommendations at the end of this article.
This session is going to put your ring on display. A clean ring and pretty nails are essentials! Consider getting your hair and makeup done, too. (One of my collections includes complimentary hair and makeup.) After all, these photos will hang on your walls for the rest of your life together! This is a great time to try out a makeup artist for your wedding day. If you need some recommendations, I have some wonderful hair and makeup artists all over NC that I will gladly recommend! One small word of caution–pulling out all the stops for your engagement session does not mean you have to go totally out of your comfort zone. For example, if you’ve never waxed your eyebrows before, this is not the time to try it. You still want to look and feel like your beautiful self.
When it comes to the gentlemen, fit is the most important part. Clothes that are slightly too baggy or too tight that would normally look okay will be exaggerated on camera. A well-tailored suit or blazer jacket and dress pants is a wonderful option. Guys, wrinkle free clothes are essential. You might have to break out the iron for this! I believe in you!
The camera picks up on more subtle shade differences than the eyes do, so pay a little extra attention to making sure your brown belt and brown shoes aren’t clashing shades. Avoid clothing that has busy patterns, extremely bold or neon colors, or pinstripes, as they are difficult to coordinate and less flattering next to your fiancé. Leave the jeans, sunglasses, ballcaps, and t-shirts at home for this session. Oh! And one more thing: before your session begins, remember to empty your pockets of your keys, wallet, phone, or other bulky items that may show. All these tips and tricks are sure to win you some attaboy points with your beautiful wife-to-be. You’re welcome!
So, you’ve determined what to wear for your engagement session. Now, you need to add the accessories! Keep accessories light and neutral. As far as jewelry goes, consider the same color recommendations as above. Your engagement ring will be the highlight! If choosing larger earrings, you probably don’t need a necklace. You want your faces and emotions to be the focal point of your images. Men can accessorize too! Pocket squares, bow ties, suspenders, and watches are all opportunities to show a bit of personality in your outfit selection.
You can add a pop of color and a unique, editorial feel to your session by bringing some unexpected accessories. For example, pack a champagne toast picnic basket or a favorite blanket for some cute, snuggly photos. Props and signs, however, can make your images look posed and stiff. If there’s something you would love to include, let’s talk about how to do that together.
Given the choice between trendy and classic outfits, always lean classic. You won’t want them to start looking dated in a couple years, unless you love the idea that your engagement photos serve as a unique time capsule.
Remember, you also want to feel comfortable in these outfits. The goal is to highlight your features and personality in a way that makes you feel like your best selves. If you are uncomfortable in your clothes, it will show in the images. We want to see the contentment and comfort you’ve found in each other when you look back at these.
Below are some of my favorite boutiques for ladies formalwear. Even Amazon has some keepers! If you’re not sure you want to add a permanent piece to your closet, try Rent the Runway to rent a dress for the occasion.
For more engagement session inspiration, head to my gallery!