What To Wear To Your Engagement Session

When it comes to dressing for your engagement session, aim for timeless, classic styles that complement your personal aesthetic and the romantic atmosphere of the shoot – think soft colours, flowing fabrics, and elegant silhouettes that make you feel like the best version of yourself.

Dressing yourself in the morning is hard enough when you don’t have to stand in front of a camera and be your best self. Choosing what to wear for a photoshoot can trigger even the most confident, farshun-ey fashionista to pull their entire wardrobe out onto the floor in search of the perfect outfit.

So if your nerves start to fizz when you think about what to wear, don’t worry. This is SO normal! Before you lose sleep to late nights spent online shopping–putting articles of clothing in your cart only to take them out again–let’s talk about what works and what doesn’t.

Number one thing I want you to remember? Being comfortable is EVERYTHING. You should look and feel like yourself, first and foremost.

Comfort First

It’s not uncommon for people to want to shop for new, sparkly, fabulous clothes to wear to a photoshoot. And that’s totally fine – if that’s your jam. But let’s talk about comfort a little more.

The best route is usually to go with something that you know moves with you and hugs you in all the right places. Don’t get me wrong – it 100% does not have to be jeans and a t-shirt.

You can glam it up a bit more if that’s what you fancy. But if authenticity is what you’re after, you’re going to have to show up as yourself. And if you want to capture this time of your life in all its glory, then it’s about the feeling of being in your own skin.

Match Your Outfit – To The Location and Season

If you’re wearing a fancy ball gown in your living room, the viewer might assume you’re going to prom. Don a little sundress number in a snowy field and the viewer might suffer from a crippling amount of pity for you. You and I will be collaborating on telling your story together, so let’s get this right.

Plan your outfits around what you know about the conditions at the location we’ll be shooting at. You’ll want to be warm enough (or cool enough!), have pain-free feet, and look relatively native to your environment. For at home sessions, slip into your comfiest comfiest and rock that (pants optional). The idea is to authentically capture you wherever you are.

Think through your clothing choices logically based on location, vibe, and comfort level.

Bring Multiple Outfits

Gather up 2 or 3 outfits that you feel amazing in, and that will help you adapt to to the weather. Eg if you want that really gorgeous dress but know it’s going to be a cold bring a second outfit for around the bonfire. I’m not trying to photocopy trends in all their boring hues, I’m looking to capture you two. Bring things that help you express yourself–I want you to grace my lens with your true, full personality!

Providing options helps me to make sure your threads compliment the environment – keeping the focus on you, where it should be!

Lead With Personality

I’m up for it all. If you are really girly, and want to wear a gorgeous long dress that flows and has a bit of a train to it that looks incredible when you spin or dance with a matching formal outfit for your spouse.

If you’re a country kid at heart, and want to wear your hats and bring your horse at sunsets.

If you want to wear your bikini and hit the beach, let’s work with that.

If you want to go indoors and rent a beautiful light filled airbnb, let’s do that.

If you love the city, then let’s dress you both up in a tux and a short dress with a bow and go dancing in the inner streets. I want your shoot to be authentic and connect with you both and your story.

Incorporate Texture & Movement

Pick fabrics that move and flow with you. Ones that add a cosy texture, or get picked up by the wind, filter the late afternoon sun, and glow in the morning light. Natural fibres like linen, cotton, or wool are amazing. Avoid stiff-seeming garments with collars as they look a bit too formal and often get tucked in weird spots and need adjusting.

Colour Scheming

Aim for neutrals, earthy tones, and metallics. These colours compliment the outdoor environment almost anywhere you go and look damn fine as a printed, framed photograph.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for a beige world of quiet and inoffensive colours. By neutrals, I just mean softer tones. Primary colours are incredibly striking, but can sometimes have the effect of detracting from the main subject (which is you). So for example, instead of electric blue, go for something closer to sky blue. Instead of bright orange, opt for ochre or apricot.

A rule of thumb here is to choose to either complement your natural environment or contrast it. A mustard or cream dress in a deep green forest will look epic, whereas a bright pink, patterned dress doesn’t really fit in with your surroundings. It totally depends on what you’re looking for!

Compliment each other, Don’t match each other

You don’t want to create the illusion of being your partner’s siamese twin. When multiple people wear the same colour, sometimes their matching outfits blend together so much that you can’t really see any of them properly. The viewer can’t tell where one person begins and another one ends. They turn into one uniform blob.

In order for the aesthetics of your photograph to really sing, you want to find complementary outfits that showcase a variety of colours, textures, accessories, patterns, and tones. Compliment the other people in the photograph as well as your surroundings. The idea is to have everything look good together without everything looking the same.

Be careful with pattern & prints

Avoid large bold patterns as they often dominate the photograph and detract attention from your beautiful face.

Usually, subtle smaller patterns work best. Flannels or a light floral print are great when they complement the location. But less is definitely more with this one, try to limit yourself to one pattern at a time. Matching patterns is a tricky task, and it’s super difficult to do well.

If you’re not quite sure what category your patterned clothes fall into, shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to weigh in.

Layer Up!

Wearing layers is great form (and function). Not only does combining layers and textures create more visually interesting photographs, but it preps you for all sorts of weather conditions, too!

Think jackets, cardigans, hats, scarves, tights, and headbands.

What to do about logos

Much like crazy patterns, clothing with writing or logos on it tends to be a bit distracting. We’re not getting paid for Adidas’ not-so-subtle product placement.

The Fine Art of Accessorising

Hats, sunglasses, socks, and jackets are a great way to jazz up your accessory game. Throw some fun extras into your bag but avoid large distracting pieces. If you couldn’t tell by now, I’m interested in shooting you (not your clothes or your bling).

Watches are a bit of a weird one, especially in couple sessions. The big fat circle face of a watch is particularly apparent when people are holding each other’s faces and bringing them in for some sugar. Best to leave the watch at home unless its sentimental.

Shoes. Shoes. Shoes.

You can’t have come this far, painstakingly planning your outfit, only to stop at your ankles. Shoes are a key part of a look and ideally complement the rest of the outfit.

If you wear heels like a pro, I definitely don’t have the authority to tell you not to do that! But if you, like the rest of us mere mortals, find heels to be moderately uncomfortable, then do yourself a favour and ditch ‘em. In most cases, we’ll be stomping around on some relatively uneven terrain and I don’t want you spraining an ankle–not on my watch. I’ll probably be giving you some energetic prompts to follow, too, so you’ll want to be ready for action.

Select the right shoes based on the location, and consider what you’d normally wear if I wasn’t following you around with a camera. Being barefoot makes sense on the beach, and boots are beautiful in the mountains.

Leather is great for boots, and know that sandals win over flip flops by a long shot. Always consider context when choosing footwear for both aesthetic appeal and practicality.

Let’s Talk Props

Props don’t have to scream ‘PROP!” Go for the subtle things that accentuate your personality and help to tell a story about your life. Think pets, an instrument, surfboards, an umbrella, bike, etc.

Make Up and Hair Do’s (and Don’ts)

So this is totally your call! But, if I may… I would suggest cultivating a bit of the French je ne sais quoi that balances elegance and ease so well. I want you to look like you. So do whatever you need to do to feel confident and beautiful.

Hands tell such a story about who you are and where you’ve been and play a crucial role in portrait photography. Sometimes photographs magnify bright nail polish, chipped manicures, and dirty fingernails. And once you see it, you can’t un-see it–your eye just keeps on zooming in on that one bit of the photograph. It’s really distracting. Treat yourself to a little subtle manicure or make sure your nails are neat and tidy before the shoot.

As for hair… Oh boy. I’m a sucker for the way a wild mane blows in the breeze. Up-dos are alright, and I totally get it–it’s so easy to throw your hair up! But when it comes to saving a moment and putting it in your pocket, hair down is the way to go. With your hair down, you get movement, you get interest, you get some perfect slices of imperfection in the best possible way.

Let’s Recap

  • Dress for the season.
  • Dress for the location.
  • Compliment – don’t match (unintentionally).
  • Wear something comfortable that you feel like yourself in.
  • Natural fibres and earthy colours look amazing in most settings.
  • Avoid large prints, logos, and patterns.
  • Throw some accessories like a hat, sunnies, or a stylist jacket into your bag.

Thank you!

If you’re looking for more information on your Engagement Session, you can check out my engagement session guide here and if you’re looking for a wedding photographer, reach out today, I’d love to hear from you!