napa winery engagement shoot elegant dress

I am often asked about what to wear on your engagement shoot, so I wanted to take a deep dive here. Without further ado, my specific tips in this post as to what photographs well + some points to bear in mind.

The same advice here applies to love / anniversary / just-because shoot.

On your engagement shoot, 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.

Spoiler: Scroll to the bottom of this article for my pinnable inspiration for your engagement session clothing choices!

READ MORE  Best engagement photo locations in San Francisco

Style vs comfort on your engagement shoot? 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!

READ MORE  How to prepare for your engagement session!

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!

Don’t Latisha and Cena look so happy and connected? Click here to see more from their San Francisco destination love shoot!

golden gate park engagement shoot photos

Floral options and how they’re paired

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

examples of what to wear on engagement shoot

Shoots at the Grand Canyon, an Oakland street and at the couple’s home

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

three different looks for bay area engagement looks

Neutrals, gem/ brights and pastels

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 and coral-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 photo session. It doesn’t have to be a wedding!

As for props the sky is the limit!

outfit ideas for engagement photos

Flowers, statement necklace and pink balloons can jazz up outfits

Think texture!

Rich textures looks great on camera. Contrasting textures are also highly recommended for your engagement shoot!

Whether you want to contrast textures or just introduce interesting textures to the shoot, I highly recommend this.

Some 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 examples!

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!

Look how much fun these two are having! For more on this shoot, check out this link!

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 on your engagement shoot!

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.

Looking for wedding dress ideas? Give yourself plenty of time and order a couple of options to try them out first. It may take a few tried to get it right, especially when ordering online. If you love the boho dress style, I’ve just the post for you!

READ MORE  20 boho wedding dresses under $200 - on Amazon in 2021
bay area engagement shoot outfit ideas

Cultural outfits, a partner who makes his own Africa-inspired clothes, and a military / dance-loving couple

A few crowd-pleasers…

If you’d like more information on how to find these items, let me know! They are available online and these are all pretty low-budget options that you can wear time and time again!

What to wear for your engagement shoot? There are so many ideas for what to wear for engagement photos - dressy or casual? Elegant or relaxed? How do you choose something that's flattering, comfortable and photographs well? In this guide to engagement photography clothing, I outline some tips and tricks to bear in mind when choosing an outfit that will work beautifully for the vibe you want to go for with your engagement photography. #engagementphotography #engaged | Zoe Larkin Photography

Pin this to your engagement photography Pinterest board for later

What should you wear for your engagement shoot? 🤔 Every couple wants to look their best, but it's also important to feel comfortable and like your normal selves! My engagement photography guide to what to wear takes you through a few ideas, including how to complement your partner, what kinds of prints work best for the camera and how to dress in a way that's timeless, effortless and comfortable | #weddingphotography #bayareawedding | Zoe Larkin Photography

napa winery engagement shoot elegant dress

What to wear for your engagement shoot


share this post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *