What to Wear for Your Engagement Photos
Wedding planning is full of tough decisions. But often one of the first decisions you have to make is what to wear for your engagement photo session! With countless options out there to choose from, this can quickly turn into an endless cycle of shopping and stressing over what will look the best. Well, today I’m going to walk you through some tips that, hopefully, give you more confidence in picking outfits that will truly wow the camera! So let’s dive in!
There are 3 things that you should consider when deciding what colors to wear.
Your location. Think about where you will be taking your portraits. You want to be choosing colors that will pop in that particular location. For example, if your session will be in a park or forest with lots of trees or grass, I would advise against wearing green as it will just cause you to blend in with your background.
Your photographer’s style. Take a look at the editing style of the photographer you are working with. Depending the style, they will have different suggestions of what will look the best in photos. For many dark and moody photographers, darker, deeper, richer tones like forest green, deep burgundy, or a rich navy blue tend to truly enhance the images. Light and airy photographers, like myself, typically encourage clients to wear lighter tones such as muted pinks, olive greens, or dusty blues, as those colors lend themselves well to our style of shooting and editing. If you’re working with a photographer who edits in a more bold, saturated way, play into that by wearing bright, bold colors.
Your skin tone. Wear colors that enhance your natural features, rather than washing them out. Make sure the colors you choose aren’t too similar to your skin tone.
The main rule for coordinating colors with your fiancés is you don’t want to be too ‘matchy-matchy’ but you do want your outfits to tie together in some way. If you are wearing a white dress with subtle light blue floral accents, have your fiancé wear a light blue or navy blue shirt. If you are wearing a blush pink dress with a large floral pattern, pick a color in the pattern for your fiancé to wear. Maybe it’s the burgundy color from the center of the flowers or maybe it’s the green from the leaves. If you are wearing a solid color, choose a color for your fiancé that complements it and then subtly tie that color into yours via a colorful necklace for you or a patterned tie for him.
Two things to avoid here:
Don’t wear the same color. If you both absolutely have your hearts set on wearing green, at least choose differing shades (maybe a light olive green for you and a deep forest green for him).
Don’t wear competing colors. If you are going bold and bright with a red dress, have your fiancé wear something more neutral (but still bold) like black and white.
When it comes to making your final decision on a piece, there are a couple things you’ll want to consider that are far more important than the color.
1. Fabric. Not all fabrics are created equally. A couple wrong picks when it comes to the makeup of your outfit can be a disaster for your images.
Clingy Fabrics. Ok, real talk. You will probably not like the way you look in photos if you are wearing clingy, unforgiving fabrics like spandex or satin for example. Flowy fabrics are much more flattering and move beautifully. Note: Clingy is not the same as fitted. If you want to wear a fitted dress, that can certainly be a gorgeous option; just make sure it is made from a more structured, thicker fabric, rather than a thin jersey knit for example.
Wrinkly Fabrics. I’m going to be very blunt here. I, and most photographers I know, do NOT photoshop out wrinkles. If you show up in wrinkled clothing and are expecting us to fix it, you can expect additional fees for every image. So, if you’re not someone who loves to iron, steer clear of fabrics that show a lot of wrinkling, such as linen. Wool or synthetic blends like polyester/nylon + cotton are some good options.
2. Fit. Ladies, let’s be honest. All of us have things we are self-conscious about. Fortunately, there are a few things we can do to trick the camera. Here’s some tips:
For shoulders: Avoid spaghetti straps.
For arms: Opt for 3/4 sleeves or layer with jackets.
For legs: Wear close-toed heels.
For waist: Dresses with empire waists, A-line dresses, or wrap dresses are wonderful for this. Again, steer clear of clingy fabrics.
To "tame the girls": Avoid strapless dresses and avoid ruffles or detailing on the chest.
And fellas, nothing ruins a picture more than pants that don’t fit. Choose a more slim-fitted style of pants or be sure to go get them tailored before your session.
Layer Layer Layer. Layering adds so much visual interest and dimension to your photos. Embrace layers like jackets, scarves, sweaters, cardigans, vests, tights, belts, statement jewelry, etc.
Get your hair and makeup professionally done. I promise you will not regret it.
Get your ring cleaned and make sure your nails are tidy. You don’t want dirty or chipped fingernails for those close-up shots!
Consider renting a gown. Rent the Runway has amazing options for any budget. I mean when else do you have an excuse to rock a Badgley Mischka for less than $100 and feel like a freaking movie star?
Embrace the season. If you live somewhere where it’s warm all the time, you can ignore this. But for those of us who live with 4 distinct seasons, my recommendation is to embrace the season. A lot of times, brides will have a specific outfit in mind they want to wear for their session, no matter what. But if the timing of your engagement doesn’t lend itself to wearing that outfit, roll with it - don’t try to push it. For example, if it’s the middle of winter in Chicago, don’t try to wear a beachy sundress. Not only will you be miserable during your session, but your photos just won’t look as authentic. Get a colorful pea coat and scarf and rock a cute wool skirt with tights and booties. If you embrace the season and dress for the occasion, your photos will turn out so much better.
Shoes ARE important. Guys, leave the sneakers at home. Brown loafers or oxfords are very versatile and look classy with almost any outfit.
That’s it, friends! I hope this helps give you a starting point for your engagement outfits. More than anything, though, it’s important that you choose outfits that reflect you and that you feel comfortable and confident in. Confidence is truly the best accessory and will shine through in your photos!
Photos taken by Nicole Jansma Photography
Hi! I'm Nicole! I'm a Southern-bred, Chicago-based wedding and portrait photographer. Which means I know how to drive in the snow, but I'm picky about my biscuits and fried chicken :) For as long as I can remember, I've had a desire to do something creative, but was always too scared to go for it. As a people-pleasing introvert, the idea of being in a career where my entire livelihood would depend on people judging me and my work sounded like the absolute worst situation! After spending too much money on a couple psychology degrees and working in that field for 8 years, I realized that longing was not going away. So I took a deep breath, picked up a camera, and decided to go for it! It's been an incredible journey and I'm so grateful to finally be doing something so personally fulfilling. I consider it an absolute honor to be invited into these special moments of people's lives to preserve some of the sweetest memories and I do not take that responsibility lightly! Learn more about her engagement and wedding photography at www.nicolejansmaphotography.com.
For #WeddingWednesday each week, I'm checking in with the foremost wedding industry experts to give you, engaged couples, the best advice about how to plan your dream wedding. I hope you enjoy the series! xo, Kristen Rocco, Founder of Love Notery