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Engagement Style Guide: What to Wear

Apr 7, 2020 | Engagements, Tips & Advice | 0 comments

The engagement session is one of my favorite parts of our time together because it gives us a chance to interact in front of the cameras. This is going to make your wedding day experience feel so smooth, seamless and comfortable. Not only that, but we get to create something so special together. Oftentimes my brides asked what to wear to an engagement session or just what kind of engagement style/vibe they should go for. Below is an engagement style guide for your session that I think can help you select pieces that will reflect not only your personalities, but can also be classy and timeless!

Be Extra

Bring a little extra something with you! A freshly-picked bouquet for you to hold or to put on something like a bicycle basket, tree swing, picnic basket, car bumper or rowboat, etc. is a fun way bring a little extra romance to everyday objects. These items can help make your engagement images to look more editorial.

Whether it’s larger items like motorcycles or classic cars, or smaller ones like blankets or hats, incorporating just one extra styled item is a fun way to make your session more unique.

Dress It Up

what to wear to engagement session style guide

Have you thought about rocking a full-length gown, cute little tulle skirt or flower crown but just never had an occasion for it? This is your chance to doll it up! There is 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 add a new permanent piece to your collection, try Rent the Runway for your engagement photos. 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. Other brides love having a great excuse to bring a new permanent piece (or two!) into their closet!

Basically, there’s no such thing as too dressed up. The rest of this engagement style guide will help you see that you only get to be engaged for this short period of time, so let’s make it worth it!

Say Yes to the Dress!

I love long, flowy dresses and skirts because they look amazing on camera and they bring extra movement to the photos. Especially when juxtaposed with nature, like the desert, forest, plains or beach. Cute, shorter-length dresses photograph beautifully as well. Dresses and skirts tend to look most stunning on camera because they really flatter the female body. However, you should choose clothing that make you feel confident!

One Dress or Two?

Most of my brides who choose two outfits will bring one “wow” dress, and then another shorter sun dress or cocktail dress for a more casual “us on a date” feel. If you want to bring two “wow” dresses and forgo the more casual dress altogether, give yourself permission to do it! You don’t have to bring two looks if it’s too stressful or you’d rather just stick to one fabulous look. One outfit that you love will be so much better than one outfit you love and another you’re not very excited about. So, one or two? It’s really up to you!

Choosing Colors

When choosing colors for your outfits, I recommend selecting lighter tones and more muted shades. Lighter tones will help bring all the attention to your faces and let the eye focus on the way you feel about each other. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown and white. That softer color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments. If you have a bold and killer dress, don’t let this rule stop you from showing it off!

Coordinating the Looks

what to wear to engagement session coordinating style guide

As you’re coordinating your outfit with your partner, keep in mind that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palettes coordinate, but don’t necessarily “match.” You should each aim to wear a different dominant color, but stay within a similar color palette family. So if you’re wearing a blush dress, then he could wear a navy coat with gray pants, paired with brown leather shoes and maybe even a blush pocket square. Now he has his own dominant color (navy) while still incorporating a few touches of your color palette. Most of our brides choose their dress first, and then put together their fiance’s outfit based on that. You can read about the engagement style guide for the Groom here.

Do Flatter Yourself

Every woman, regardless of her shape, has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about. Recognizing what that is in advance 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.

If you’re conscious about your arms: 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. You could also bring a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan along, too. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera, so we recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is a set of slimmer-looking arms.

If you’re conscious about your legs: Heels elongate women’s legs, making them look fabulous. 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. 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 feet show. These little tricks make all the difference!

Quick Tip: Bring a pair of flats to wear when moving from place to place. Your feet will thank you later!


Pairing an accessory or two with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images. Big statement necklaces bring a lot of pop to the photos, while the smaller, delicate ones are not be as noticeable on camera. Belts, bracelets and earrings bring great visual interest, so choose one or two that don’t compete for attention. Fresh florals in a crown or bouquet can be a really romantic touch as well.

Hair & Makeup

An engagement style guide would not be complete without professional hair and makeup. Professional hair and makeup is on the top of most of our brides’ checklists because it looks amazing and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. 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 our brides feel like their makeup is “too much” at first, since it’s more than you would wear on a normal day, so if you feel that way at the beginning, don’t worry!

If you need a recommendation for hair and makeup, I work with the best in the business and have a go-to team! You’ll LOVE them! Just let me know and I’ll send you their information. I know hey’ll take good care of you!

A Little Extra Polish: Don’t forget, your ring will be center stage, so give yourself permission to get it cleaned and your nails done, too!

Should You Get a Spray Tan?

Although it might seem counter-intuitive, we 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 the most beautifully.

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