what to wear for engagement photos

Picking out what to wear for engagement photos doesn’t have to be a stressful decision. Obviously, you want to look your best. But if you’re not used to being photographed (don’t worry, my couples are real people not professional models), there’s a few simple guidelines that can make a big difference.  Here’s a few tips to help you pick what to wear for your engagement photos:

Dress like it’s a first date

The simplest tip for choosing a great outfit is to pretend you’re choosing what to wear for a date. Chances are the type of clothes you would pick to make a first impression on a date would look great in photos.

Wear something that shows your  style

You want to pick items that make you feel comfortable and confident while being true to your personal style. Don’t feel like you need a new wardrobe of the trendiest pieces. You probably already know what clothes look best, but I’m always happy to jump on a FaceTime call and raid your closets.

Think coordinating with contrast, not matching

It’s best to wear pieces that compliment each other rather than matching. There are two types of coordination to consider.

1) color palette – think about how colors will look together. Working within a specific hue or color family is a good way to make your outfits feel like they belong together. For example, a purple shirt looks good next to a blue dress.

2) level of formality or ‘dressiness’ – the other way to make sure your look is harmonious is to wear things that you would normally see together. For example, if one person is in a suit, a cocktail dress looks great.

Have a few different options

Having a second look will give your photos a little more variety. If you’re unsure about how something will look, bring a third option. It’s best to start with something more casual and then having a dressier option for later in the evening.

Accessorize and Layer

Accessories can add visual interest and variety as well – adding a colorful belt or shoes can change your whole look. Layers always look good. Jackets, scarves and cardigans are all great. As a bonus, they’re easy to swap on or off and give more variety. 

What to avoid

Bold colors, like a red dress, are no problem. It’s best to avoid bright (neon) colors, loud patterns, and large logos or words. Also steer clear from tee shirts and cargo shorts. Barefoot looks best at the beach, so you can leave the flip-flops at home. If you have a special request, like matching jerseys, make sure you’ve got two other outfits planned.

Think about the logistics

If we’re shooting around downtown Chicago, we usually take Lyft between locations and do a lot of walking. If we don’t have a car to stash things in, we’ll need to be able to carry everything. An extra piece or two is fine, but don’t bring the whole closet. Speaking of walking, it’s not uncommon to do 10,000 steps during an engagement session. Wear comfortable shoes, (unless we’re going to the beach). If you have a favorite pair of heels, but aren’t sure about walking across town in them, pack them in a bag and you can swap shoes when we get to a new location.