Shang Chen Photo

What Should I Wear For An Engagement Shoot?

One of the things I help my clients out with is styling their engagement shoot. Every couple has their unique style, and while most of the guidelines in this post are general, I still want to remind everyone that you should style your clothing to reflect your personalities and wear something that you feel comfortable looking back on in 20, 30 years. With that being said, I’ve gathered some friends of mine to bring you a plethora of inspiration!

First off, the ladies! Wear your favorite colors, but I like brighter colors – especially if we are shooting in cities such as Boston, New York, or Chicago, we are working with a lot of concrete and mono-tone backgrounds, so you want to POP from the scene. Pending the weather, either wear a casual dress with a knit cardigan or layer jeans, a nice shirt or top that has details. Avoid all white and all black ensembles, it won’t show up with enough contrast on film. Patterns? Keep them in moderation as they may look dated after a couple of decades. If you are doing solid colors – think about the texture – thick and classic textures such as knits, sweaters, linen, cotton photograph quite well. Accessorize for more fun – think about your jewelry, belts, and any relevant hair pieces.

Sheena, one of my brides last year, her engagement shoot was very popular for her yellow dress and super-fab heels as we walked around Beacon Hill – click on the picture to see more from that session

Sheena writes: “For my engagement photo session, I wanted to make sure that I stuck to a simple, classic look that was also firmly my style. I knew for sure that I didn’t want to look back on my photos and cringe at the pattern of my dress, hairstyle or makeup choices, so sticking to an understated style was very important to me. Shang had recommended bright, complimentary colors for my (now) husband and me, so I chose yellow– a color that people often said was ‘my’ color. My dress had a classic silhouette which I hoped would stand the test of time, and, likewise, I chose simple pearl earrings and a silver drop necklace. I felt confident that my wardrobe choices reflected who I was at that time in my life and that I wouldn’t look back and wonder why I tried to wear something that fit into that moment’s fad.

The most important thing to remember is to be yourself. I’m never one to be on the forefront of clothing trends (I’m usually the last one to try everything!), so it wouldn’t have made sense for me to go outside of my comfort zone for my engagement photos. I like looking back at my photos and seeing the real me shine through in clothes that I truly loved!”

How about the guys? Depending on how formal the girl is, match that. If the girl wears jeans then the guy can wear jeans but otherwise, khaki, formal pants, and dark slacks work just as well. Please avoid sneakers if you can but dark shoes are okay. Contrast the pants with a shirt of a different color. The shirt should not be the same color as the girl’s so that you guys don’t look too matchy-matchy. Avoid all white and all black ensembles. Think color tones – if the girl is wearing primary colors, you wear primary. If girl is pastel, you wear pastel.

Dave was one of the other really popular engagement sessions from last year. He and his partner dressed in classic fall ensemble to go with their foliage-filled engagement session on the University of Chicago campus – click on the picture to see more.

Dave writes: “In selecting an outfit for my engagement photo shoot, I really wanted to wear what would be considered a classic look. If I wore something too trendy or that wound up being a fad, five years down the road I’d look at my photos and wonder what I was thinking (think bell bottoms [1970’s] or neon [1980s]). There seemed to be little risk wearing a button down shirt, sweater and blazer with jeans. My photo shoot was in the fall and beyond consideration of recent fads, I wanted to pick colors that were consistent with the colors of the season. In terms of the outfit selected for the inspiration board, I realize the tie might be on the trendy side, but under a sweater only a small portion will be seen and could be the perfect amount of ‘flair.’”

A makeup artist and good hair makes ALL the difference in photos – so I recommend having your trials timed for your engagement session if possible. I’d love to spend most of the shoot having fun and photographing you, and not worrying about your hair or makeup. If you choose to do makeup yourself, that is fine. If you normally don’t wear makeup, I still recommend foundation and eyeliner. If you need makeup artist recommendations, I have a few that I love working with.

And now, a topic near and near to my heart – SHOES! For those who missed my post on shoes last year, check it out. However, my friend Sarah, co-founder of Snapette, is even greater an expert than I am. She writes: “As for shoes, you should go all out for your engagement shoot. A photo shoot is THE perfect opportunity to show off your great shoes. Everyday photos are usually from the waist up, and awesome shoes often go unnoticed at crowded events and dark bars. Plus given there’s pretty limited walking during the shoot, this is also a nice opportunity to wear your highest heels, which are also super flattering for your legs and proportions. If you’re wearing neutral or dark colors, I’d recommend wearing brightly colored shoes that pop, complemented with a brightly colored belt, necklace or hairpiece. Brightly colored shoes also go great with colorful outfits – don’t be shy! If you want to go with more neutral colored shoes, however, then consider ones that have rhinestones, bold patterns or distinctive shapes.”