Engagement Session Outfits: 5 Tips to “Make it Work”

“What should we wear to our engagement session?” This is the number one question I get about engagement sessions – and it’s no wonder. You may be perfectly capable of putting together a fabulous ensemble for work or a night on the town, but picking out an outfit that looks good with your partner’s and also translates well on camera can be really tricky! Not only that, but there’s really no set dress code for engagement sessions; it’s completely up to you whether to go casual or super dressy, which can be freeing, but also intimidating.

I am far from a fashion guru, but I do have a little experience with what works well and what doesn’t on camera. Here are my guidelines for picking out outfits that look good together – illustrated by some of my couples who are much more stylish than me!

1. Complement your partner.

“I like your shirt choice, dear!” No, not that kind of compliment (although those are always a good idea too.) This shoot is about both of you, so you want to make sure your outfits look good together while also providing a little bit of contrast. Balance is the key here; you probably don’t want to both wear crazy mismatched patterns, but you also don’t want to both rock the same white t-shirt and jeans (unless you are just super into that early 2000s family portrait look.) Try putting one person in a pattern and the other in a similar-colored solid, or one person in a bright color and the other in a more neutral one. Different colors can look good together as long as they are similar tones – both pastels, both jewel tones, etc. Lots of brides-to-be opt for white dresses, and they go with everything!

Chelsea and Ryan's outfits look great together because the pink and blues are in the same tone (pastel).

Chelsea and Ryan’s outfits look great together because the pink and blues are in the same tone (pastel). Bonus points for matching the bike.

Same idea for Caleb and Anna's session; their maroon and blue shirts work because they are both jewel tones. Anna's jacket provides just the right amount of contrast.

Same idea for Caleb and Anna’s session; their maroon and blue shirts work because they are both jewel tones. Anna’s jacket provides just the right amount of contrast.

When in doubt, neutrals go with everything. Nicole's red necklace adds a extra pop of visual interest to her and Cory's polished look.

When in doubt, neutrals go with everything. Nicole’s red necklace and shoes add an extra pop of visual interest to her and Cory’s polished look.

Jessica's adorable polka dots are balanced by Kent's crisp white button down.

Jessica’s adorable polka dots are balanced by Kent’s crisp white button down.

2. Fit, fit, fit.

It is no secret that I personally like flowy clothes! However, while I like some extra room in my shirts, sometimes super loose clothing doesn’t translate on camera – unless you are teeny tiny (and sometimes even then) it can come across as boxy. If you’re wearing a very flowy shirt or dress, try adding a belt or a jacket over it to add a little bit of visual structure. Conversely, you don’t want to wear something that is too tight that you will constantly have to be fussing with, either.

Kelli's dress is a great example of perfect fit! It defines her waist, but still allows for some cute flowy movement in the skirt.

Kelli’s dress is a great example of perfect fit! It defines her waist, but still allows for some cute flowy movement in the skirt.

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Obsessed with SJ’s vest. Rhyme unintentional.

3. Consider your setting.

If you’re scheduling your session in the woods in the middle of summer, there’s going to be a lot of green – so you may not want to choose a color which would clash, or a busy pattern. If you have a snowy session scheduled or are heading to the beach, these simpler, more neutral backgrounds give you a lot more room to play with color and print. You can get away with neutrals pretty much anytime (but don’t be afraid to accessorize in a brighter color for a bit of pop).

Morgan and Josh chose colors that would stand out from, but not clash with, the gorgeous fall colors in their session!

Morgan and Josh chose colors that would stand out from, but not clash with, the gorgeous fall colors in their session!

Audrey and Brad's session was in winter, so the more neutral backdrop doesn't compete with the bold colors and pattern in Audrey's dress.

Audrey and Brad’s session was in winter, so the more neutral backdrop doesn’t compete with the bold colors and pattern in Audrey’s dress.

4. Get the best of both worlds – bring multiple outfits.

Many of my couples bring a change of clothes to their engagement session. It frees you up to try something more fun balanced with something more traditional, or to do a more casual look and a more formal look.

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Amelia’s dress was super cute… (also a great example of using a belt to help add shape!)

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…but I also loved her more casual outfit with the bright red top! Jason didn’t change, but his casual but polished look went well with both of Amelia’s outfits.

Caroline and James showed off their spiffy side in their first outfit...

Caroline and James showed off their spiffy side in their first outfit…

...then showcased their school spirit in their second ensemble (go Vols!)

…then showcased their school spirit in their second ensemble (go Vols!)

5. Have fun with it!

It’s your engagement session – wear something you’ll really enjoy and shows off your personality! I am all for trying something different and out there. A portrait session is a great excuse to wear an outfit you might not get a chance to otherwise, so feel free to get creative. You can always do a “safe outfit” and something more daring as noted in the point above!

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#stylegoals.

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Mary Haley and Carlyle blow me away with their sense of style. I probably should have just had them write this post for me.

 

Which of these outfits would you want to steal for your engagement session? Let us know in the comments!

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