What should I wear to my engagement session?
One of my favorite things to shoot (that aren't weddings) are engagement photos. It's a great time to get to really know my clients, and learn exactly what they do and don't like in a session. It's a great warm-up for the big day, and gets them comfortable with me as well as vice versa. I get a feel for their style and approach to the camera without the pressure and hectic hurry that can be a wedding day.
One of the questions we get asked the most is "What on earth are we supposed to wear for our engagement shoot?" - and for good reason. I know the struggle. Standing in your room with every conceivable outfit laid out haphazardly on your bed ready to pull your hair out with indecision. Holding up your shirts to his shirts, and his slacks to your skirt, and your belt to his shoes and trying to figure out the perfect combination to wear for your photos. Unfortunately, there is no magic solution, and I can't just tell you one thing that will magically make the decision for you. I do, however, have a few tips that will (hopefully) make the decision a bit more clear.
The number one thing I can recommend as far as what to wear is to be yourself! Whatever you wear, make sure it's something that fits your personality. If you've never wanted to wear a dress in your life, now is not the time to bring out the fluffy pink ballgown from the back of your closet. You MUST be comfortable - if you're not, it will absolutely show in your photos. You have to be able to move and be natural. Anything that needs constant adjusting is automatically out. Anything that you're not super comfortable with yourself in is automatically out.
Don't be scared of a fun or funky print - IF you love the piece of clothing! Many people shyaway from prints in photos, because some can be distracting or wash you out. But if you love the piece of clothing, feel comfortable in it, and think it really suits you - go for it! Prints can add a fresh and fun look to your shoot, not to mention showing off your figure and simultaneously hiding parts you may not want to accentuate. If you decide to go with a print, it's a good idea to have your partner wear a solid color to balance out the photos. Two different prints will likely clash, and the same prints...
Don't be mirrors of each other! The last thing you want is to look like thing one and thing two, or those twins whose parents dress them alike forever. Coordinate complementary outfits but matching exactly comes off as tacky 9 times out of 10.
Choose some COLORS! Some are tempted to wear black, though I don't recommend it. Black easily picks up hair, dirt, dust, and shows specks easily. White is another go-to, but personally I think that's much better suited to the wedding day! Keep the engagement photos fun and light by choosing some fun colors to make your personalities pop! At the same time, you want to choose colors that will complement and flatter your skin tone.
Keep your location in mind when choosing your outfit. If your shoot is at a big red barn... it's probably best to not wear red. If it's in a lush green park, stay away from greens. Similarly, wear colors that will complement your surroundings. A shoot in a wheat field? You'll really pop in a blue sundress. Along the same lines, keep your location in mind when choosing the style of your outfit as well. A fancy dress and heels on a beach doesn't really make a balanced photo.
Dress for the season! It may seem like a no-brainer, but if it's cold - sleeveless isn't a great option. If it's hot - snow boots and a big jacket will make you very uncomfortable and look very strange.
Dress on the same scale as your partner. If he's dressed formally and she's dressed casually, it makes for a very strange photo indeed. Again, it may seem like a no-brainer, but don't forget to coordinate this part!
Layer layer layer layer!!!! Layers look great in photos, and give you something to play around with without doing an entire outfit change. Vests, jackets, cardigans, and even belts are great options to play around with.
If you can't decide whether to go casual or formal,why not both?! Coordinate with your photographer and see how many outfit changes you reasonably can bring. Your photographer may even be of help when try to narrow down the final choices! We tend to have an eye for color and what will go with corresponding locations.
Flatter your body type, and highlight your best assets! You know what looks best on you. You know which outfits flatter you the most and make you feel great about yourself. If you love your legs, show them off a bit! If you love your smile, ask for some close ups of your face!
If your wedding has a theme, let it show in your engagement shoot! Coordinate with your photographer and see if they can pitch in some great ideas.
Don't forget about your shoes! They're a great detail and will be something you notice later on.
And the rule of all rules: don't be afraid to break these "rules" - they're just guidelines!The bottom line is, they're your pictures and it's your big day and you should do what you want with your outfits. The most important thing is that you have fun with it!
A few more tips:
See if you can coordinate with your hair and makeup artists for a "trial run" for the day of your engagement shoot.
Consider bringing a prop or two to the shoot. A (well-behaved) pet, an instrument you play, signs, a flashy piece of jewelry, even a floppy hat will give you something to play with in the pictures and keep you looking natural in between posed shots.
A few do nots:
do!!! not!!! forget!!! the!!!! ring!!!!!!!!
Do not wear brand new clothes - more often than not, brand new clothes will be uncomfortable, and that will definitely show through in the final photos.
Don't wear clothes that restrict movement. You'll need to do a number of different poses and if you're uncomfortable moving around or constantly need to re-adjust, it will put a damper on the flow of the session.
Stay away from clothes with large logos - you're taking photos of your love, not for an advertisement!
Steer clear of clothes that are too "trendy" - these photos should be timeless and ones you can look back on in 20 years without going "ummmmm.... was that really the style that week?"
I love big flashy dangly earrings as much as the next girl, but in photos they can both be distracting and get in the way. Keep most of your jewelry relatively understated.
Try not to make any major changes to your hair or makeup for the engagement shoot. This is supposed to highlight you and your look, so you want to look like yourself.
Keep your feet in mind - white socks peeking out between dark pants and dark shoes look pretty weird.
They may be your faves, but old t-shirts and tennis shoes won't be the greatest to look back on in these photos. Try and steer clear of anything along those lines.
Oversized shirts should be counted out, too. Choosing something that fits you well is the easiest way to get a flattering photo!
Most importantly of all - have FUN with it! You want your engagement photos to speak to the love and fun in your relationship, so try not to overthink the wardrobe. If you've got even a little fashion sense, and you know what you like to wear, you'll do just fine.