Your engagement session is one of the most important parts of the pre-wedding process. First, it gives you a set of beautiful images that you can use for save-the-dates, your wedding website, prints to display at the rehearsal dinner or reception, frames for your wall in your home and so much more! Most importantly, it gives you a way to freeze this special time in your life. A chance to pause, take a deep breath and relish in this season together. You’ll be husband and wife for fifty plus years, but you only get to be fiancés for a short little window of your life! With your engagement session, I want to help you slow down long enough to remember this short, sweet season of life for years to come.
My goal is simple: for your session to be as fun and stress-free as possible. One of the things that many brides-to-be stress over, is what to wear. So here are some fun and easy tips for what you should wear to your engagement photo shoot!
Dress It Up
Have you been eyeing a gorgeous dress, but just never had an occasion for it? This is your chance to do it up! Remember: there’s no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your engagement session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! If you don’t want to spend a ton of money adding a new permanent piece to your wardrobe, a lot of my bride’s love Rent the Runway for their engagement photos because you don’t have to spend a lot to feel like a million bucks. Plus, you can send the outfits back when the session is over. Some of my bride’s love having an excuse to go shopping and purchase a new permanent piece (or two!) for their wardrobe –– and that’s okay, too!
Whatever works for you!
Say Yes to the Dress
There’s nothing more romantic than a long, flowy dress. Dresses and skirts tend to look most stunning on camera because they really flatter the female body — which is probably why the red carpet is always full of so many dresses and not very many pantsuits! I recommend choosing long, flowy dresses or skirts because they’re flattering on all body types, look amazing on camera and bring extra movement and dimension to your photos. Maxi (or floor length) skirts and dresses will give us the best “twirl factor,” add more romance to your photos. Cute, shorter cocktail-length dresses or midi skirts photograph beautifully as well. My brides who choose to bring two dresses will sometimes choose one of each. Should you decide to wear a top and pants for your second outfit, I recommend you wear your favorite color and either dark denim jeans (without rips) or your favorite pair of dress pants.
One or Two? It’s Up to You!
Most of my brides who choose two outfits will bring one “wow” dress, and then another more casual outfit, such as a shorter cocktail-length dress or midi/maxi skirt, for a more casual “us on a date” feel. But if you want to bring a “wow” dress and forgo the more relaxed dress altogether, give yourself permission to do it! The camera loves runway-esque apparel or dress-casual looks and so do we!
Remember, though, you don’t have to bring two looks if it’s too stressful. If you’d rather just stick to one fabulous outfit, that’s fine, too. One look that you love will be so much better than one outfit you love and another you’re not very excited about. So, whether it’s one or two is really up to you.
When choosing colors for your outfits, I recommend selecting lighter, neutral tones and more muted shades. Bright, bold or neon colors are distracting and take the focus away from where it should be – you two (and how much you love each other). You can never go wrong with light neutral colors like cream, taupe, camel or light gray. The camera loves shades of soft pinks and muted blues mixed with sophisticated light-colored neutrals.
Coordinating the Looks
As you’re coordinating your outfit with your fiancé’s, keep in mind that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palette and wardrobe pieces coordinate, but don’t actually “match.” You should each wear a different dominant color but stay within a similar color palette family. So, for example, if you’re wearing a blush dress and nude heels (blush being your dominant color), then he could wear a navy top with gray pants, paired with brown leather shoes. Now he has his own dominant color (navy) while still incorporating a few touches of your color palette. Most of my brides choose their dress first, and then put together their fiancé’s outfit based on that. (Be on the lookout for our next blog post – ‘Style Tips for HIM’)
Flattering Your Features
In my experience, every woman (regardless of her size or shape) has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about. Recognizing the area’s you’re self-conscious about when selecting your outfits 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. If you choose to wear a dress and it has shorter sleeves (or no sleeves) consider bringing a cute jacket, blazer, cardigan or pashmina to incorporate into your look. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera. For most women, skinny straps actually make arms look BIGGER. I recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is slimmer-looking arms. If it’s colder outside, I suggest bringing a warm coat (the longer, the better!) to wear when we’re not shooting so you don’t freeze in your dress.
For Your Feet
For shoes, keep in mind that heels elongate women’s legs and force constant tension in the calves –– which makes them look more toned. Closed-toes heels, in particular, look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. You can never go wrong with a pair of neutral pumps! 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 toes show. If you choose to wear flats, try to go with a dress-casual pair.
Remember to take care of the small details. Make sure you have your hair cut and color done (if you color it) shortly before the session. Use a product, flat-iron or curling iron that will smooth your hair so as to avoid frizzy hair and fly-aways. If you normally wax or pluck your eyebrows, be sure to do this a few days before your session date.
Make a Statement
Pairing an accessory or two with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images. Whether it’s a necklace, belt, bracelet, earrings, hat, or scarf, bringing an accessory or two can bring great visual interest to your photos, so choose one or two that don’t compete for attention when paired together. For example, if you go with bolder earnings, you might want to choose a more humble necklace, or maybe even no necklace at all.
Go Pro: Hair & Makeup
Professional hair and makeup is on the top of most of my brides’ engagement session checklist because it looks amazing on camera and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. You’ll have these photos forever, so this is the time to pamper yourself!
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 we’ll be shooting in, so it’ll give you the best expectation of how it will translate on camera. Most of my brides feel like their makeup is “too much” at first, since it’s more than they would wear on a normal day, so if you feel that way at the beginning, don’t worry. Good makeup artists know how to get it just right for the camera — and my brides always love the final result.
Clean Your Ring
Your ring hand will be featured in a lot of the photos, so if you have time before your session, I recommend getting your ring cleaned and treating yourself to a manicure.
Skip the Spray Tan
Although it might seem counterintuitive, I 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 most beautifully.