As the days get longer and the temperatures warm up, couples across the country are gearing up for summer engagement photo sessions. This time of year is ideal for engagement photos—blooming flowers and lush greenery make the perfect backdrop—but it does come with one worrying factor: heat. Will the humidity mess up that perfect ‘do? And will sweat show up in photos?
Florida-based wedding photographer Felicia Anderson knows a thing or two about warm-weather engagement photos. “Sometimes it’s hot, and we can’t get around it, but getting through it leads to these beautiful images,” she says. “It’s worth being hot for an hour, and I always tell my couples that eventually we will be having so much fun and they’ll be so into each other that they forget all about it!”
Meet the Expert
Felicia Anderson is the founder of Felicia V Photography and has been photographing couples in the greater Jacksonville, FL area for over three years.
Here are some of Anderson’s tips and tricks for making your summer engagement photo session a success.
What to Wear for Summer Engagement Photos
Choosing an outfit for any engagement photo session is tricky. You want flattering clothing, but you also want to be comfortable so you can relax and be yourself. Add potential heat and humidity to the mix, and the wardrobe decision gets that much trickier. So what should you wear for summer engagement photos?
“I like flowy dresses that are tighter at the bust and then flow throughout because I love movement in my photographs,” Anderson says. “Flowy in the summer is also really good because when the wind blows, it cools you down a tad. Plus, these full-length flowy dresses complement almost any body type.”
Color-wise, Anderson recommends sticking to more neutral, soft colors. “The camera just naturally loves shades of pink, blues, sophisticated neutrals, greens, creams, and whites,” she says. “That’s a whole lot of colors, so you definitely have a range of colors that will photograph beautifully.”
For grooms-to-be, Anderson recommends stepping it up beyond a T-shirt and jeans for summer engagement photo sessions. “Guys just look dapper in a striking suit, so they can have nice jeans with a sport jacket, or any type of suit jacket just to take it up a notch,” she says. “I also recommend solid shades of gray or navy. These are strong complements to most women’s outfits.”
Pros of Taking Engagement Photos in the Summer
Many couples lean toward spring and fall for engagement photos due to milder temperatures and equally beautiful backdrops. But summer engagement photos have many pros as well. For Anderson, who loves lush garden scenery, summer is actually quite ideal. “In the summer, you have these beautiful, full blooms, especially in the natural gardens,” Anderson says. “This gives you a variety of gorgeous location options.”
Another pro is lighting. In the early spring and late fall, the sun sets around 6 p.m. Anderson likes to start her engagement photo sessions about one or two hours before sunset to capitalize on those soft golden-hour colors. That means an early spring session could start around 4:30 or 5 p.m.—which ultimately means you may need to take a half-day off of work to be ready and glammed up in time for the session.
In the summer, though, the sun sets much later, around 8 or 9 p.m., depending on your location. This gives you adequate time to get ready without the stressed rush, ensuring your summer engagement-photo session is as flawless as possible.
Cons of Taking Engagement Photos in the Summer
It’s hard to talk about summer engagement photos without talking about heat, but Anderson says that really is the only con of the season. But it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, especially if your photographer is equipped and ready to keep you comfortable throughout the session. For Anderson, that means bringing a fan—plus a sense of humor—to every warm-weather photo shoot. “I bring a fan to my engagement photo sessions, and I have it with me on the wedding day, too,” she says. “I’ll ask my couples if they’re feeling hot, and if I see any sweat, the fan’s coming out!”
Some brides-to-be worry about how humidity will affect their hair, but Anderson says this can actually be a positive. “If you have tight curls, they may not be so tight at the end of the session,” she says. “But it looks more natural to me, honestly. I’d prefer looser, natural curls, and that’s often how they look toward the end of the session.”
Summer Engagement Photo Tips
Like any photo session, Anderson says the best way to ensure your summer engagement photoshoot is successful is to connect with your photographer before the actual day. “Talk with your photographer and go over the whole plan,” she says. “Tell them what kind of places you like for the backdrop, or what’s a place that’s special to you? If you talk through these things ahead of time, it’s smoother once you arrive at the session.”
Also, summer means more outdoor locations are open for your photos. She recommends getting creative with your backdrop, whether that’s a garden, beach, docks, or even in the boat. And finally, heat or not, remember: It’s all about having fun. “Your engagement session is like a sneak peek of your wedding day,” she says. “You’ll look back on these memories for a long time, so try not to worry about anything like heat. Remember, you’re one step closer to getting married, so have fun!”
Ahead, discover more tips along with some inspiration from real couples to help you prepare for summer engagement photos.
Try a Long, Flowy Dress
Anderson is a big fan of full-length flowy dresses because they complement virtually all body types and keep you as cool as possible during summer photo sessions. Plus, the movement looks gorgeous in photos.
Don’t Fear Heat and Humidity
Many fear the negative effects humidity can have on hair, but Anderson says it often makes your hair look even better. Looser, more natural curls and styles come across beautifully in photographs.
Complement Your Scenery
If you’re taking photos in a garden, you’ll want to avoid greens that blend in with the background. But flattering soft pinks or blues can really pop. If you’re unsure what to wear, ask your photographer for ideas.
Dress It Up
You may feel more comfortable in loose, more casual outfits, but taking your wardrobe up a notch will ensure your summer photos look as perfect as possible. For soon-to-be brides, this means a full-length dress, and grooms-to-be should consider a suit jacket.
Photographers like Anderson offer one wardrobe change with engagement photos, so you can dress it up for some photos, then get more casual for the rest.
Find a Summery Location
If you’re taking engagement photos in the summer, you might as well capitalize on the location variety. Whether it’s a beach or a boat dock, get creative with your backdrop. And, if you need inspiration, lean on your photographer for ideas.
Take Advantage of Golden Hour
Lighting before sunrise and sunset is ideal for your summer engagement photos. This warm, soft light will make your photos like elegant and magazine-worthy. Even better? These hours tend to be cooler, too.
Trust Your Photographer
The heat may leave you feeling sweaty and uncomfortable, but fear not: Your photographer is trained to make you look your best! Trust your photographer to capture you in the best possible lighting, and from the best angles, whether that’s a soft-kiss close-up or a wide-angle silhouette.
In most cases, you’ll only take engagement photos once, so you might as well get adventurous and make the most out of it! If you’re at a beach, try diving in. Or if you’re photographing at a boat dock, head out on the boat.
Hire a Makeup Artist
If you’re planning to hire a makeup artist for your wedding day, engagement photos are a great time to do a test-run to see how the styling looks in photos. Plus, these professionals are savvy when it comes to sweat-proof makeup. You can rest assured you’ll look cool, calm, and collected throughout the shoot.
Bring a Second Outfit
Anderson’s clients typically bring one change of clothes to each session for image variety. If you start off with a more formal dress and suit, consider changing into your favorite sundress for a more relaxed vibe—particularly if you’re heading to a more adventurous spot like the beach.
Add Personal Props
Every couple has their own inside jokes and personal quirks, and you can bring symbols of those small touches to your engagement session for photos that truly show your personality. This could be everything from a bottle of champagne to a memento from your first date.
Choose Compatible Colors
Certain colors go better together than others, so try to sync up your wardrobes for sizzling summer photos. Not sure where to start? Neutrals are always easiest, but you can also try one bold color with one neutral color to make the photos really pop.
Summer weather is unpredictable. Your photo session could be sweltering at the start, then chillier closer to sunset. To stay comfortable throughout, bring an extra layer, such as a favorite jacket, along with you.
At the end of the day, and heat or not, you’re spending quality time with your BFF—you might as well enjoy it!