I am often asked about what to wear for an engagement / love / anniversary shoot, so I wanted to take a deeper dive here. Without further ado, my specific tips in this post as to what photographs well + some points to bear in mind.
Wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident – feel free to disregard any of this advice if it doesn’t fit with your vision, your vibe or what you have in mind.
If you make it all the way to the end you’ll find my Amazon affiliate links with specific items I’ve hand-chosen for your engagement or other love shoot!
Style vs comfort? Maybe a bit of both?
As with most fashion choices there’s always a trade-off. You want to look amazing but you don’t want to be tugging at your clothes because they’re won’t stop bunching or digging in to you.
Then again, jeans and a t-shirt might not give the elegant and breathtaking look you’re after!
There’s always a little compromise involved, but I will say that if in doubt go bigger, bolder and altogether EXTRA. The camera can definitely deal with more lashes than you’d normally use, brighter colors and bigger hair!
OK we just want to pick something easy – what works?
My personal recommendation is a long, flowy dress in either a plain color or with a small, repeating pattern such as a floral print. It works really well in terms of style, comfort, timelessness, looking good on camera and suiting all body types.
Make sure you get one that’s fitted in the body and flares out below the waist as that tends to be most flattering.
I say long (or ‘maxi’) but short dresses are also cute. The only drawback is that shorter lengths are more restrictive.
Engagement shoots tend to involve more movement (piggy backs, dips, dancing, twirling, lifting, maybe some sitting down shots) than you’d have in your formal wedding outfit.
Wear something you can move in and interact in a playful way without being too worried about your dress blowing up or your movement being restricted.
Jumpsuits are a new favorite. You can create a beautiful silhouette, look instantly put together and move even more freely than with a dress – and will definitely want to wear it again!
Complement your surroundings
Go with an outfit that complements the scenery around you. Here are some ideas:
Ice cream parlor – Colorful, fun, candy pastels.
‘Derelicte’ / Industrial: Bring out your edgier, kookier side with darker colors
Somewhere majestic: Elegant and timeless works best with a more formal vibe
Around the neighborhood: Everyday wear -with a cute twist!
Lifestyle shoot at home: Casual, every day wear, even PJ’s
Coordinating with your partner
Try and keep the same vibe going with your partner as with your environment. I love long flowy dresses – but if your partner’s in a casual t-shirt that will look disconnected.
I personally think matching outfits are cute! However the consensus seems to be coordinating, with some colors/ tones in common.
For example one partner could be wearing a floral number, and the colors of the florals are picked up in the other partner’s bow tie, shirt or hat.
Or it might just be as simple as – if one partner is in neutral grey and white, the other could be in neutrals like tan and black.
The key is to create as much unity in the outfits as there is between the two of you!
Three different ways of looking at color:
Neutrals: Ensures that the focus is firmly on you. Never goes out of style.
Gem tones: Ruby, sapphire or emerald give a very classy regal look that really pop
Pastels: Soft and beautiful, gives an elegant fine art look
Personally I love all three. Avoid black and other very dark colors which absorb light and can lack definition in photos, unless this is the vibe you’re going for!
Scroll to the end for some crowd-pleasing numbers on Amazon – budget-friendly outfit choices that you’ll want to wear again!
What’s your skin tone?
To find out what suits you I recommend finding out your unique skin tone and wearing colors to suit it! I didn’t know about skin tone until recently (thanks to Justine Le Conte and this video – go check it out!)
My skin for instance has a yellow undertone. A friend of mine, who has a completely different skin color to me, has the same skin tone. We look best in yellow, orange, warm reds and pink. Blue, purple, and cool greens do not suit.
I’ve learned recently that accessories really transform an outfit. Rather than going too crazy with an outfit you can jazz up the simplest pieces with statement jewelry or an awesome hat.
Flowers or some kind of prop also count as accessories! I love seeing florals being incorporated into a shoot.
As for props the sky is the limit!
Looks great on camera. Whether you want to contrast different textures or just introduce interesting textures to the shoot, I highly recommend this.
Some specific examples:
- Velvet is gorgeous on camera. Looks incredibly luxurious!
- Contrasting a beautiful fur/ faux fur stole with a lace dress. Doesn’t have to cost the earth!
- Clothes that have panels of different materials can create visual interest.
Scroll down to the end of this article for more specific clothing suggestions which you can click through to buy.
Change of outfits
If you bring two outfits you can get a couple of distinctive looks – useful if you would like more variety or cannot decide.
Just remember to plan out how/ where to change. Will you need to make a trip back to the car or find a restroom? Okay but we’ll need to allow time for that. Could you wear the necessary layers underneath so you can change discreetly in public?
Please keep it to a maximum of two outfits per session, otherwise it becomes more about the outfits than you!
Avoid (unless it’s your thing!)
- Large patterns which can be distracting and not as flattering.
- Super small repeating patterns such as checks or stripes which cause the moire effect.
- Printed words and logos. The eye is drawn there.
- Overly trendy styles that may date the photos.
Be unique, be you
For all the advice I can give you regarding what to wear for your engagement shoot, it’s ultimately up to you.
You might want to showcase unique aspects about your relationship. A shared hobby, profession or lifestyle.
Some folks choose their engagement shoot as a time to honor their heritage. Ultimately it’s not a fashion shoot, and whatever you wear it’ll be beautiful.
I hope these few pointers were helpful! Comment and share if you found it useful. Scroll down for some options to purchase right now!
A few crowd-pleasers…
Note: These are affiliate links. Though you will not pay more, if you follow these links and make a purchase I may receive a small commission.
Zoe Larkin is a Bay Area wedding photographer, specializing in intimate weddings. Zoe creates images that combine documentary photography with a stylized edge. Her work has been published on A Practical Wedding, Offbeat Bride, Equally Wed, Catalyst Wed Co and others. Read more about Zoe here.