Calling all my engaged couples (and future engaged couples who just don’t know it yet)! I am so so excited to be sharing some tips with you today on what the heck to wear for your engagement photos. This may seem like a trivial thing to worry about, but I am here to tell you that some well-thought out outfits can make your pictures look surprisingly effortless and that much more cohesive and beautiful (I mean your faces will obviously make them lovely no matter what). As someone who loves photography AND who is a bride-to-be, I’m happy to be imparting some wisdom from both sides of the lens. So without further ado, here are my tips for picking stellar outfits for your engagement session.
“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” – Rachel Zoe
1. Pick clothes that say who you are as a couple!
Are you a fancy couple, typically in suits and dresses? Are you more casual, rocking tshirts and jeans on the regular? What clothing items really say who you are as a couple? After all, when you are wearing something that feels natural to you, you will look natural in your photos! When I started thinking about what my fiancé and I would wear for our engagement photos, the first thing that came to mind was my cowboy boots. I am originally from Texas and both of us love wearing our cowboy boots to country concerts (we met at a Tim McGraw concert), so this immediately became an important item for us to work around in our photos.
2. Consider the setting
If you’re shooting in a grassy area, wearing green will make you blend right in. Or if you have your heart set on a beach location, boots or sneakers are just going to look out of place. I mean that’s just common sense right? In my case, I had my heart set on cowboys boots AND a beach location, but those two things obviously don’t go together. Thank goodness for our fabulous photographer Emma Hopp who knew the perfect location where we could shoot in a landscape setting on a cliff (in my boots!), then change outfits and head down some steps to the beach in more beach-appropriate outfit.
3. Avoid white (most of the time)
Ladies, I know it’s really tempting to gravitate toward white when you’re doing anything wedding related (bachelorette, engagement party, bridal shower, etc.) because HELLO you’re finally the bride! But white will completely wash you out no matter your skin color. Because photos are all about light, especially if you are shooting outside, solid white items tend to overexpose and make that part of you look like a solid white blob. A guy who wears a solid white button up is almost certainly going to look heavier than he is and his arms will likely blend into his torso. We can all agree that adding pounds is NOT the goal. The exception? Whites with patterns and texture. I had a beautiful white dress I wore for the beach portion of our session and the only reason it worked is because the top half had lots of embroidery and the bottom half was textured with dots and slightly sheer with beige liner underneath. Nothing about it was solid stark white and it turned out beautifully if I do say so myself!
4. Don’t be matchy-matchy, but DO be complementary
Please oh PLEASE don’t recreate one of those awkward family photos where you are your fiancé(e) are wearing the exact same thing…and undoubtedly blending into each other as a result. What I find to be the best combination for couples is one pattern and one solid. For example, if one of you likes wearing plaid, the other should wear a solid top/dress that complements one of the colors in the plaid pattern. In our case, I found a beautiful floral patterned shirt (similar here and here) to go with my cowboy boots, so then my fiancé (when I say my fiancé I really mean me, let’s be honest here) pulled from the blue color in my patterned shirt and chose to wear a chambray button up (similar here and here).
5. Keep outfits changes to a minimum
Most photographers only allot a certain amount of time for your engagement session, usually 1.5 to 2 hours. And some photographers even limit how many outfit/location changes you can have. Why? It takes time away from what you’re there to do…take photos! Personally, I do prefer one outfit change just so you have a little variety (and in our case I wanted a quick location change too…more on that in a minute), but sometimes just one perfectly chosen ensemble is all you need! I would certainly not recommend more than one outfit change if you can help it.
6. Don’t forget the details!
And finally, don’t forget all the little details that go along with your outfit choice…makeup, hair, nails, location, and props! If you want to dress fancier, perhaps include props like glasses of champagne and pick a location that would make sense with your attire and bubbly. I wanted a beach location but we also wanted to include my fiancé’s motorcycle with my cowboy boot look, so that meant finding a second location more appropriate for our “prop”, his bike. I’ve also seen couples include things like balloons or their pets and this is a great opportunity to use your prop to complement the colors you’re wearing. And ladies, this should be a no brainer, but don’t forget to get your makeup and nails done with consideration for the colors in your outfit choice(s). And remember that your makeup should be a little heavier than usual to show up in the photos, but you should of course look a way that makes you feel comfortable and like yourself!
I hope these tips help inspire you and give you good ideas to work off of! No matter what, have fun and be YOU as a couple. You may end up using these photos for years to come as Save-The-Dates, Christmas cards, or photos you have framed around your home or office, so you want them to be an expression of your true selves. Congratulations!
All photos: Emma Hopp Photography