The number one question I get asked about engagement sessions is: “what should we wear?” And in all honesty, the answer is unique to each couple and will depend on your personal style and on your vision for your shoot.
However, there are several resources you can use for outfit inspiration! First (surprise, surprise) pinterest – I curate a style guide for couples, and if you don’t see anything there that speaks to you, there are a ton of other engagement style boards out there. Second, me – I’m always happy to consult on outfits before the shoot, so don’t hesitate to send me an email! Third, polyvore – there is a bit of a learning curve for this site, but once you figure it out, it is a great resource! Each of the inspiration boards appearing in this post was created using polyvore!
There are six simple rules I share with clients before their engagement sessions. These rules are made to be broken, so if you’ve got killer outfits in mind that break ‘em, just do it! When you are reading through the rules, keep in mind that you don’t need to plan your outfits all at once. Start small, a dress, a tie, a top, a pair of shoes. Then work your way up from there!
Rule One: No Matchy Matchy
Any kind of shoot where you are in matching outfits is going to look awkward. Don’t do it. This rule shouldn’t ever be broken lest you want to end up on awkward family photos.
Rule Two: Complimentary colours
Complimentary colours are awesome. Some of my favourite colour combos are red and aqua, shades of beige with pops of coral and navy (e.g., jeans), and grey and yellow.
A great resource for inspiration is ColourLovers. Click on “Palettes” and then scroll through until you find palettes you love. Here is a great example of a palette that would work well for a couples’ session. That palette inspired these outfits.
Rule Three: Solid colours and simple patterns
Solid colours and simple patterns are photographic gold. Bold patterns can be very distracting in photographs. That being said, this rule can always be broken, so if you’ve got style and see an awesome dress or top in a bold pattern, by all means go ahead. Just stick to solids or simple patters for the rest of the items.
Here is an example of how to break this rule.
Black and white can look a little plain in photographs. But if you’ve got your heart set on black or white, think texture and make sure you accessorize with a pop of colour!
Rule Four: Layer & accessorize
Layering makes it look like you’ve got serious style. Layering also has multiple outfits built in. Think cardigans, sweaters, ties, blazers, scarfs, and tights.
Accessories are the finishing touches. Think earrings, necklaces, bracelets, shoes, belts, sunglasses and ties. You won’t wear your sunglasses in every image, but they can add variety and a bit of fun to your shoot!
Rule Five: You should look like you
Don’t go way out of your comfort zone for your shoot. Most of my clients aren’t professional models and already feel a little awkward at the beginning of their engagement or shoot (don’t worry, you feel way less awkward as we go, I promise)! For example, if you are a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy, think twice about sporting suspenders and a bow-tie. Instead, maybe go for a casual collared shirt (maybe paired with a a loose tie) and some canvas kicks. (If you are a bow-tie and suspenders kind of guy, awesome, rock it out, maybe add in a fedora to kick it up a notch!)
Rule Six: Leave your purse in the car
If you look closely at each of these style boards, you will notice something is missing from each of them. A purse. Purses get in the way of snuggling. So, unless you’ve carefully selected your purse to go with your outfit, and are dying to have it in a few shots, leave it at home or in the trunk!
Client Query: Should we bring a change of clothes?
Two outfits can be awesome and can bring a little more variety into your images. That being said – you need to be super comfortable changing in public for this to work. It also takes up precious time. Usually, I time engagement shoots for golden hour. Golden hour is magic, but it only lasts for so long! This is why layering can be an awesome idea. Lose the blazer and tie half way through, and presto: new outfit!
Client Query: Should I get my hair and makeup done?
This one is totally up to you. It depends on how comfortable you feel doing your own hair. It depends on your budget. It depends on what you are using these images for. It depends on the style you are going for. For makeup, you can always schedule your makeup trial for earlier that day! Do I think you should get your hair and/or makeup done. Honestly, only if you want to!
Client Query: What about props?
Props can be a fun way of brining your engagement session to the next level, but in my opinion they can be totally awkward unless they serve a purpose. So, if you obsessed with your cruiser bikes, bring them along! Love Starbucks or have a favourite bar? Let’s meet there and take some images with your drink. Want to use your images for a save the date or for table numbers? Bring a framed image or a chalkboard. Got engaged at a picnic? Let’s have a picnic!
But guys, don’t stress yourself out over props or themes or styled shoots; your engagement session is supposed to be fun! Most of my engagements sessions are just me and my clients hanging out in gritty urban locations taking really cool pictures.
Ok. That was a doozy of a post! I hope you found this helpful, and you can find more advice posts by clicking here. And, as always, if you have any burning questions or ideas for an advice post, do let me know!