What to wear to your engagement session? Long are the days of matchy matchy outfit. My beautiful sister and husband got married in the mid 1990’s when matching shirts with oversized sleeves was the trend. Adorable, yes! But if you are considering this look today you need to rethink a few things.
Styling your Session
Want your photos to look more editorial? Bring a little extra something with you! Fresh flowers bring an extra “wow” factor to just about everything, especially when they’re attached to something else, like a bicycle basket, tree swing, white tent, picnic in a beautiful park, hot air balloon, Whether you want to incorporate larger items like classic cars or smaller ones like blankets or hats, even planning for just one extra styled item could be a fun way to make your session more unique.
Style Tips: For Her
Because you always want to remember this.
Don’t Be Afraid to Dress It Up
Have you thought about rocking a romantic gown, tulle skirt or flower crown but just never had an occasion for it? This is your chance to do it up! Remember: There is no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your portrait session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! This is the time you are announcing to the world you are CraZy about each other! And requesting they be at the wedding to celebrate with you. If you don’t want to add a new permanent piece to your collection, a lot of our clients love Rent the Runway for their session because it’s such an affordable way to feel like a million bucks. Other clients love having a great excuse to bring a new permanent piece (or two!) into their closet!
Say Yes to the Dress
Dresses and skirts look most stunning because they really flatter every female body, especially on camera — which is probably why the red carpet is always full of so many dresses and not very many pantsuits! If you like the casual look for an outfit, that can be great. Just make sure to say yes to a dress or two.
Long, full-length, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera because they bring extra movement to the photos. Especially when juxtaposed with nature, like the desert, forest, plains or beach. Consider softer fabrics like chiffon or tulle which allow for beautiful movement in the images.
When considering the length of your dresses or skirts, it’s also a good idea to factor in the location. Will you be doing any little hiking around in the mountains. I’ll likely have you sitting or crouching on the ground to interact up-close with them. Cute, shorter cocktail-length dresses photograph beautifully, a floor-length dress or skirt, or perhaps a cute midi-skirt, will make moving around and look perfect on camera, too.
One or Two? It’s Up to You!
You can bring one outfit set or two! Most of my clients who choose two outfits will bring one “wow” dress, and then another slightly more casual dress that has a “date night” feel. But if you want to bring two “wow” dresses and forgo the more casual dress altogether, give yourself permission to do it! The camera loves runway-esque apparel and so do I!
Remember, though, you don’t have to bring two looks if it’s too stressful to coordinate or if you’d rather just stick to one fabulous look. One outfit that you love will be so much better than one outfit you love and another you’re not very excited about. And if you stick with one outfit set, you won’t have to spend any of your time changing half way through, so I’ll be able to sneak in a few more photos! So, one or two? It’s really up to you!
When choosing colors for your outfits, I recommend selecting softer, lighter tones and more muted shades. By avoiding ultra-bright, bold colors, it will help bring all the attention to your faces and let the eye focus on the way you feel about each other. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown and white. That softer color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments, and especially compliments the desert.
Flattering Your Features
In my experience, every woman, regardless of her shape has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about, so recognizing what area that is in advance is key. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos.
Three-quarter length sleeves create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve. You could also bring a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan along, too. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera, so I recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is a set of slimmer-looking arms.
Heels elongate women’s legs, making them look fabulous. Closed-toed heels in particular look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session so you don’t regret letting your feet show. These little tricks make all the difference!
Quick Tip: Bring a pair of easy-to-kick-off flats to wear when moving from place to place in between photos. Your feet will thank you later!
Make a Statement
Belts, bracelets and earrings bring great visual interest, so choose one or two that don’t compete for attention. Fresh florals in a crown can be a really romantic touch.
Go Pro: Hair & Makeup
Professional hair and makeup is on the top of most of our clients’ checklists because it looks amazing on camera and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. This is the time to treat yourself! This is the celebration of your upcoming wedding! So, whether it’s lash extensions or blown-out hair, professional hair and makeup will give you an extra boost of confidence in front of the camera, and it always photographs like a dream. If you’re working with a makeup artist, have her apply your makeup in natural light, if possible, so that it looks fresh and not too heavy. Plus, that’s the type of light I’ll be shooting in, so it’ll give you the best expectation of how it will translate on camera. Most of my clients feel like their professional makeup is “too much” at first, since it’s more than you would wear on a normal day, or that they're false lashes look too big, so if you feel that way at the beginning, don’t worry! Good makeup artists know how to get it all just right for the camera — and our clients always love the final result.
If you choose to do your own makeup, keep it soft. Make sure your foundation is a true match to avoid an orange appearance in the photo. Keep your eyeliner defined but not thick. We want all the attention drawn to your beautiful eye color. Lip stain with a little gloss look fabulous and allow for lots of kisses without leaving a mark on him! Keep your eyeshadow to beautiful earth tones.
Skip the Spray Tan
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, we recommend that you do not get a spray tan before your session, even a few days prior, because it tends to photograph orange even when it’s applied subtly and by a professional. Your actual skin tone will photograph the most beautifully and naturally.
Fashion Tips: For Him
Because dapper and debonair never go out of style.
The Best Fit
Long, well fitted pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from his legs and feet and place it where you want it: on his handsome face. So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts, sandals and jeans at home, too, as well as any pants that are loose or baggy. Fitted dress pants or fitted earth tone (shades of gray or brown) colored pants work best on camera. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong compliment to most women’s outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye. I also recommend staying away from graphics and logos.
Next time you walk by a store like J. Crew, you’ll notice the male mannequins and models are always wearing several layers at once. Layers on men look great on camera, so even when it’s hot outside, trust me when I say that it’s worth an hour or two of discomfort for photos that will last you both a lifetime. Adding another layer will bring extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, vests and coats up the level of any look. If the temperature permits, he could even consider adding a v-neck sweater in a subtle coordinating color to a long-sleeved collared shirt and tie underneath. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers!
Mix It Up
Many of our guys love to mix a suit coat, blazer or sport coat with a different pant color. It adds some extra visual interest, and breaks up the color tones. I’m a big fan of this fresh take on a timeless classic.
It’s All in the Details
Brown leather dress shoes compliment almost every look, whether he’s wearing a full suit or a blazer and colored pants. Ties, bowties, pocket squares, colored socks, belts, tie clips, suspenders, vests and watches are sharp compliments to any outfit for men and boys alike. If you bring two outfits to the session, you can start with a traditional necktie and belt, then switch to suspenders and a bow tie for your second look. If two looks are too stressful, no problem! One will do the trick! You can still mix and match accessories to compliment both of her dresses without doing a full change during the session. So, either way, it's a win.
If either of you wear transition lenses, I recommend wearing contacts or removing them for the session. We will be outdoor in bright natural light and the glasses tend to appear as sunglasses in the photos. Regular no-glare corrective lenses are great and can add character. But some clients choose to wear contacts to change things up.
How to Prep Your Man
Most men aren’t overly excited to take photos for an hour or two, because they don’t have an expectation of what’s to come and why it’s so important to you. Take fifteen minutes to educate and empower your guy. Tell him why you chose me and my style of photography. Show him your three favorite sessions that I’ve done, explain why you love them and express to him how much it means to you. Trust us, once he knows it’s important, he’ll light up the camera for you! The most common thing I hear from guys before photo sessions is this: because of a bad experience in the past, they don’t like taking photos or don’t think they’ll be good at it. By the time we’re done, though, they can’t believe how fast it went and just how much fun they had!
Don’t forget that to have get a haircut and neatly trimmed facial hair for that slick James Bond look.
Remember, I recommend selecting those softer, lighter tones and avoiding those ultra-bright, bold colors. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown and white. Feel free to vary the shades of the colors, too. That softer color palette fits beautifully into a natural environment, and can easily be paired in so many different ways. Avoid all shades of orange, yellow and green in your clothing choice. I do a lot of my sessions in nature and you don’t want to blend into the surrounding but stand out in a subtle, beautiful way.
I hope this guide helps you coordinate your outfits together. Remember whatever you choose make sure between the two of you that your outfits are equally as dressy or casual. If you ever have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me. Helping you rock your sessions any way I can brings my so much joy.