The most important outfit your choose when it comes to your engagement is of course your wedding gown. But a close second? The attire you select for your engagement session. That outfit could show up on everything from your save-the-dates to the walls of your first house. So before you scan your closet or hit the mall, consider these top tips from photographers on selecting a look that will make your photos shine.
Now's not the time to pull out a beaded ball gown if you're a T-shirt and jeans kind of girl. "The bride should feel comfortable in the outfit she chooses," says Jessica D'Onofrio of Jessica D'Onofrio Photography in Los Angeles. "She should still look like herself, but at her best. Wardrobe choices that are extremely outside a bride's level of comfort will make her look and feel awkward in photos, which isn't pretty for anyone."
Avoid matching and patterns.
Complementing your man's look is one thing. But "matching outfits and patterned prints aren't ideal for portrait sessions," explains Michelle Cross of Michelle Cross Photography in Oregon. "When deciding how you and your partner will dress, look for complementary colors and solid prints. Try to stay away from anything too busy, as it can be an unnecessary distraction in photos."
Consider cool colors.
You'll want to avoid anything neon, lest you look like a hot, blinking sign, warns Jillian Requeima of Jillian Tree Photography in Miami. "I also find orange is the least photogenic color, while red is the color your eye is drawn to immediately — and you don't necessarily want your shirt or skirt to be the focus of your photograph. You want your faces and the love between you to stand out." So consider wearing pastels, cool hues, or neutral tones, then add a pop of bright color with your accessories, Requeima suggests.
Include at least one accessory.
Layers — such as a stylish scarf or chunky necklace — add serious "wow" factor no matter what you're wearing. Plus they're easy to slip on and off, which means you'll have a variety of looks with a single outfit. "Adding in at least one accessory per outfit for the ladies and wearing layers of clothing for the guys are two things that photograph well because it adds more visual interest to their looks," explains Kelsy McCartney of The McCartneys in Wausau, Wisconsin, "and, as a result, to the images we create together."
Steer clear of trends.
You may love that black-and-white maxi dress now but next year, you may only picture a referee or jailbird when you see yourself in head-to-toe stripes. "I always recommend looks that will remain timeless, rather than outfits that could make your images feel dated a few years down the road," says D'Onofrio. Plus, "overly contrived looks can feel awkward and clunky in photos — and you want to look effortless, not like you're trying too hard."
Stick to just two outfits.
Don't fall victim to treating your engagement session as a fashion photo shoot. "You're going to have a million wedding photos where you're all dolled up and looking gorgeous," says Cross. "But these? These are the pictures where you get to remember who you are at the end of the day when it's only the two of you! Two outfits is more than enough to reflect this in couples, and it insures you won't spend your entire engagement session in a rush to change into the next set of clothes."