04/06/2015 01:54 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What to Wear for Your Engagement Session

We get this question before every single engagement session that we shoot: What should we wear? It's understandable. It's not like many engaged couples are veterans of the engagement session process.

There are some obvious tips. Dress for comfort. Dress for the season. Dress for the the setting.

Surely you know not to wear a formal gown to the beach or wear thin clothes in December. Now let's go beyond the obvious. What do you need to know that you don't already?

There are three sets of tips to cover depending on how much of a perfectionist you are. If you just want to pull something out of the closet and stand in front of the camera, then that can be arranged. This list is for those who want to make sure that their outfits look great.

Stage 1 - Basic tips

We've given these basic tips to our clients for the past several years and let them run from there.

Same formality: If you're dressing up, so is he. If you're dressing down, so is he. Make sure that you and your fiancee dress with the same formality. You'll look ridiculous if you're in a formal dress and he's in a ripped t-shirt.

Here are Chris and Lynley, both looking quite dapper and formal.


If only they would've dressed Marley in a formal way as well. Slackers...

Shawn and Chris dressed casually in this picture. They wore sweaters and, although they can't be seen here, jeans.


Same brightness: When somebody looks at a picture, their eye immediately goes to the brightest part of the picture. If your fiancee is wearing white and you're wearing black, guess who is getting all of the attention. Not you!

Sam and Thera did a good job here. Thera is wearing a dark blue dress with a black sweater while Sam wears a black polo.


Avoid matchy-matchy: Have you ever seen those beach portraits where everybody is wearing a white shirt and jeans? Yeah... that's not necessary.

This is Sam and Thera again during the same session but after an outfit change. They have the same formality and same brightness without perfectly matching.


Stage 2 - Slightly obsessive tips

Now let's move beyond the critical tips. These are important but not mandatory.

Avoid patterns: The goal of a portrait is for the observer viewing the photograph to look at the people in it. Anything that draws attention from the subjects is no good. Patterns, especially clashing patterns, will draw attention.

Jon and Jenn fell into this trap. They both wore mid-tones, so they were good there, but they rocked a few different patterns. Jon is wearing a plaid shirt while Jenn is wearing a flower-patterned skirt. Also, it's hard to tell in this picture, but Jenn is wearing a solid-colored shirt that has a textured pattern on it.


Avoid shorts: It's difficult to avoid shorts in the summer. It's hot and you don't want to layer up. Sorry guys, you'll need to suck it up.

This picture of Sandy and Levi is an oldie dating back to 2010 but it immediately jumped to mind when this subject came up. It's been seen by lots of people. Virtually everybody says something to the effect of, "Aww... They're so cute. He has hairy legs."


It's less imperative for women to avoid shorts. If you do wear them, just don't wear short shorts. That's distracting to everybody, not just men.

Stage 3 - Full-blown OCD tip

Do your friends call you OCD? Do you want to make sure that your photos are absolutely perfect? This tip is for you.

Color wheel: Let the photographer's color wheel guide your color selections. Select a pair of adjacent colors and go from there.


This looks slightly different from the color wheel you learned in elementary school art class because it's made specifically for photographers. It's here to help guide you.

Seth and Amber did everything listed above, matching formality, avoiding patterns, etc. and also nailed the color wheel, wearing yellow and light green. Good work, guys!


Does this help to answer the "what should I wear" question? I hope so. Consult this guide before your engagement session and you'll be halfway to success. Now about those funny faces you keep making...