What to Wear for Your Engagement Portraits

by Mallory Whitfield on February 15, 2012

Today’s post comes from a long-time online buddy & awesome wedding photographer, Lara Eichhorn.

Hi, my name is Lara and I’m a wedding photographer based in Victoria, British Columbia. I’ll be doing some guest posts here at Miss Malaprop on how to bring your unique sense of style to your engagement photographs and wedding day. As usual, we’ll be sharing links to some awesome independent designers and craftspeople to help bring your vision to life.

I thought I’d start off with some tips for engagement portraits, as the time between Christmas and Valentine’s Day is a popular time for people to get engaged and it’s starting to warm up enough here in the northern hemisphere to start booking your engagement sessions. Today I’ll talk about what to wear in your photos.

What to Wear

I love it when people wear bright colours, particularly purple, red, yellow, bright pink, turquoise, and vibrant greens. They work to make the subjects stand out from the background and to me, they just look cheerful, which is how I think engagement photos should look.

matching hoodies for engagement portrait session

The traditional portrait style is to wear matching outfits, but usually only the cheesy family photographers will recommend this anymore. I actually think it can be cute, but only if it fits your personal style, like the couple above in their similar hoodies, jeans, and Chucks. Choosing different colours makes matching outfits look more modern.

vintage style with cardigans for engagement shoot

Many photographers recommend wearing solid colours, but I think patterns can be fun and draw the viewer’s eye to you. Then again, you don’t want to wear something that draws too much attention away from your face, so use them sparingly. The bride above worked patterns perfectly, with a checked dress toned down by a solid cardigan. Notice they’re also rocking coordinating cardigans in fun colours. Cardigans and jackets are a great way to mix up your look from shot to shot.

Shoes and accessories are another way to change the look of your outfit throughout the shoot and also can add some fun and personality to your outfit. The above bride coordinated a big yellow flower pin to flowers on her yellow shoes (and the cutest pale yellow petticoat). Their look could be switched up easily by exchanging their cardigans for blazers (or removing them) and changing shoes.

what to wear for an engagement portrait shoot

Think about matching your outfit to the situation, like wearing a sun dress to a picnic or dressing up for a theatre shoot. The above couple wore super casual, comfy clothes for a beach session that also involved hiking and running in the water. You can take it even further by wearing a “uniform”, like yacht-wear on a boat or tennis whites on a tennis court. Wearing the opposite of the expected at a location can also create stunning photos, such as wearing formal wear in an old warehouse or forest.

Indie Finds for Your E-Session

I put together a women’s outfit as an example of something you can find from indie designers for your session. A convertible dress, comfy shoes, and a cardigan that can be removed, all in joyful colours.

what to wear for an engagement portrait shoot

1. Hibiscus Yellow Short Octopus Convertible Wrap Dress by Coralie Beatrix – I love these dresses and all of the bright colours (and range of sizes) they come in. You could wear one and then change up the way it wraps for more photos.
2. Green Sweatshirt Cardigan by Pierogi Picnic – A cute and comfy cardigan to change up your look when the weather cools down.
3. Soft Hand Made Leather Tinkerbell Ballet Flats by Spirocreations – Some super cozy flats to match, or get them in red or green for a bit of a kick.

The Most Important Thing to Remember

The most important thing is to pick something that you look and feel amazing in. Your clothes should allow you to move around without constantly adjusting things or worrying if your bra is showing. If you have a physical feature that you don’t want to show-off, wear something that conceals it or draws the eye away. You don’t want to be concerned with only standing a certain way the entire time so nobody can see your belly. Conversely, wear things that show off the features you love. Wear what makes you feel good about yourself.

Another key consideration is that, no matter what I or your photographer say, you choose clothes that are your style. Your images, especially those documenting such an important time in your life, should reflect your personality and who you are as a couple.

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