With this warm spring weather finally upon us, flowers now in bloom at The Biltmore, and sunsets that aren’t right at 5 o’clock, it can only mean one thing….your engagement photos are probably right around the corner! We are blessed to be shooting year round, but many of the awesome couples we work with schedule their engagement sessions during the spring! This is the perfect time of year, especially if you’re trying to get save the dates out before the fall or early next year! Naturally one of the questions we receive during this time of year is “What do we wear for our engagement photos?” It’s a question that we absolutely love to get because it allows us to guide our clients so that they will feel comfortable, but also so they will look great! Now, we will be the first to tell you that neither of us are style experts. We can’t always tell you what the latest and greatest fashion trends are for the year, or what colors are “in” for the red carpet roll outs. That being said, over the past 6 years we have worked with countless couples for their engagement sessions and we have picked up a few simple tips along the way that will help you with your engagement photos. Throughout this blog post we will provide you with some of the stylish strategies and ideas that we see time after time for couples who knock it out of the park when it comes to looking their best on camera! We will also provide plenty of visual references along the way as well. For those of you who would rather be told “what not to do”, towards the end we have a section on things to avoid as well as other tips for looking your best!
Make sure you are comfortable
This is as important mentally as it is physically. Pick something you are comfortable moving around in, especially if you value a variety of photos and looks. You want to avoid an outfit that you are afraid to move in whether, it’s because it is so expensive that you just don’t want to possibly take a chance of getting it dirty or because maybe it's to revealing with regards to one part of your body or another. Example, if you’re wearing a dress and shoes that you absolutely love but the thought of sitting down/laying on the ground in it makes you cringe or possibly staining the bottoms of your shoes, it’s likely not a good outfit choice for your outdoor engagement session that involves a hike. Another example, some girls may wear a top that is super cute, but they realize a day or two before their shoot, that it shows their bra from the side at a lot of angles. Not a huge deal and certainly something that a professional photographer can work around, but if it limits you to where you can’t engage and interact with your partner because you have to keep your arms down, it may end up causing more stress than it’s worth as it will be something you’ll likely worry about the entire shoot. Consider the terrain and the weather. The last tip for this section is for men and women alike and that is to make sure you wear something that makes you feel confident! Whether you are aiming towards being more dressed up or more casual, wear something that makes you feel like the best version of yourself!
Complement each other
One of the most important things you can do to look your best for engagement photos is making sure you and your fiance’s outfits complement each other. It’s not as much about matching as it is about utilizing complementary colors. Below are a couple of examples from Ashley & Anthony’s style savvy engagement session at Black Balsam Knob! As you’ll see, even with two different outfits, they were able to utilize colors and accessories to complement each other perfectly! Another way you can complement each other well beyond color is to make sure you ‘dress for the same occasion’. By that we mean, if one of you is going dress to the nines, make sure you both dress up. Often times when one person is dressed up and one person is dressed down, the styles can clash because it looks like you’re dressed for two different occasions. So if one of you is going to dress up, both of you should dress up. If one of you is going to be more casual, then both of you should dress more casual. If you’re thinking somewhere in the middle, then you should both be somewhere in the middle. If you’re dead set on wearing a dress and he is dead set on wearing jeans, see if he will compromise and wear khakis or maybe wear a dress that is a bit more casual. You can always adjust more one way or another, just make sure you’re not on opposite ends of the spectrum.
The great debate! One of the things that many of the couples we work with have a hard time deciding is ‘which’ outfit to go with. They are usually torn between one that’s a bit more casual and one that’s a bit more dressed up. We are here to tell you, you should totally do both if you have time in your session! The great thing about this approach is you can have some of the photos be a bit more laid back, fun, and casual and some of them be more romantic, and styled. Within this approach you can also choose different locations that complement your outfits as well. "Well if two outfits is good, then 3 must be better, and 4 must be the best…etc. Not quite. While we touched on two outfits in this section, we strongly recommend 2 outfits at most. In the past experience has taught us that when you have more than two outfit changes for an engagement session, you start focusing less on each other and more on your clothes or where you’re going to change next. It eats into your engagement session time and though you end up wearing more outfits, you end up with less photos (unless you've booked a longer session). Our goal when working with couples for their engagement sessions is to get them engaging and interacting with each other so we can capture those natural moments and the essence of their connection. Everyone’s style is going to be undoubtedly different but we think one thing that will stand true for any photographer working with any couple for a real engagement shoot (not stylized) is it’s about the couple, not the clothes. The outfit choice and location can absolutely compliment and highlight the couple and their lifestyle, but at the end of the day it’s about their connection and relationship.
Dressy vs Casual
There is no right or wrong answer here, just whatever fits your vibe as a couple and the vision for your engagement photos. Many of the couples we’ve worked with decide to go completely formal for their engagement session and many decide to go laid back and casual. We are here to tell you, both can look great! The most important thing for this section is to consider what all of the previous sections have discussed and plan accordingly!
Sometimes a scarf or a shawl can be just the thing to pull an outfit together. Gentleman don’t be afraid to accessorize as well! Small details like a watch or stylish add ons like a blazer can really help transform the feel of your entire outfit. Women can use stylish jewelry as well to help dress up or complement their outfit!
What to avoid
***Let us preface this section by saying, you have total freedom to choose what you would like to wear, these are just some professional recommendations on what not to wear based on what we’ve seen and experienced:
Neon Colors: They usually over power the picture in terms of color intensity; distracting; color casting
Clashing Colors/Patterns: Think one person wearing stripes and one person wearing spots, or multiple different geometric patterns; also distracting
Clothing that reveals harsh tan lines: We have done wonders in lightroom and photoshop but harsh tan lines are not always 100% correctible so if they reeeally bother you, it's a good idea to cover them up.
Graphic tees or shirts with a lot of wording: distracting; not timeless
Clothing that’s the same color as your skin: It’s a rarity, but always try to go a little lighter or little darker if you choose a natural colored top or dress.
Baseball caps: The exception to this rule is if you’re both wearing a hat for a specific photo idea (i.e. your favorite sports, team, etc.)
Other tips for looking your best for your engagement session
Consider getting your hair and make up done by a professional
Make sure your nails are clean
Gentleman, if you’re rocking a beard or longer hair (or both) just make sure to trim up any loose ends
Consider getting your clothes dry cleaned to avoid wrinkles and hard creases
Avoid getting sunburned or wind burned prior to your engagement session
This one may sound crazy, but if you don't want pictures of you wearing jeans with holes in them, don't wear jeans with holes in them (bit of sarcasm)
If worst comes to worst and you feel like you just need some extra help, one of the best things you can do is snap a picture of the outfits you have picked and send it to your photographer! This is something our clients do with us from time to time and we would say 99.9% of the time, they are already on point, but that little bit of re-assurance can go a long way! We hope some of these tips have been beneficial to you as your plan for your engagement photos and remember no matter how you dress, just be you!
-Jenny & Joe