A few years ago, I took my first dive into the topic of “What to wear to your Engagement Session” for couples, and enjoyed sharing about it for the first time so much! Since then, I have made a custom 12 page PDF for my couples that they get sent to them before their engagement session to walk them through all the details (because fashion gets me almost as excited as photography!). The truth is, I know it really is just so challenging to make sure you are choosing the right outfits– and the more years I have been photographing couples and weddings, the more I have learned what exactly the keys are to getting the overall “look” and style you want for your photos– because it is more than just what photographer you choose! The location, and your outfits, play a HUGE role in the overall feel of your photos. So today, I am going to dive further into this with some info I have never shared before all about the specific styles you might pick from while choosing your outfits, and what sort of an impact they will make on your session! Now of course, the location, the photographer, and the posing matter a ton too- so make sure to chat with your photographer about the overall look you want, and they can help you pick locations that will work well for it!
So I am going to break this down into 4 major styles options. Of course, there are so many variations, and lots of “in between” options. But I like to urge my couples to try to sort of nail down one of these ideas, at least for their “formal/dressy” outfit, because it can just make everything SO cohesive! Let’s dive into the styles!
Style 1: Romantic and Soft
This style leads to a soft and romantic feel to your images by choosing dressy, flowy fabrics (potentially with ruffles or layers) and often longer dresses. The color scheme, especially for the “main” pieces (dress or dress shirt) are more neutral/light colored in nature- think blush pinks, creams, light gray, ivory, etc. The overall style can feel more formal, and add a beautiful sophistication to your photos. Often, it can include soft floral patterns, or light soft patterns on a guy’s dress shirt. This sort of style pairs so well with winter sessions when everything is neutral and light brown (though floral patterns in the dead of winter might not be your top choice!), or spring– especially in late April/early May when everything starts blooming (and especially if you can find flowering trees)!
Style 2: Light Neutrals
This style includes mostly neutral and light colors for the soft and airy look- it is just a slight modification on style one, but the big difference is eliminating any dark colors. Often what happens for a Romantic and Soft look is a long, flowing light colored dress and a darker suit, or a darker dress shirt This is just FINE– but if you are wanting super bright and airy photos, consider khaki pants instead of darker dress pants or jeans. It can make a huge difference! Also, a light blue or light gray dress shirt paired with a long dress works so well to keep everything neutral and non-distracting– imagine in these photos below if the guy was in navy blue instead. Still a neutral– but the photos would feel completely different!
Style 3: Bold and Colorful
This style gives a bright and fun feeling to your photos. It usually involves a little more pattern and a lot more color! Think maroons, burnt oranges, yellow, olive greens…the possibilities are endless (though I definitely recommend avoiding all things neon!). This can work really well when you have a more neutral, urban backdrop. I always suggest to stick to a strong pattern with just one person, and have the other wear more of a neutral to balance it all out. This look also can be tend to be more casual (though not always!) and have a more comfortable look to it. If you feel like more of a fun-loving energetic couple, this might be a the style choice for you!
Style 4: Classy and Modern
This style is often pretty formal, and typically involves more of a black, white, and gray color scheme. It is the ultimate in class and looks so great in historic or urban settings as well! I am not typically a “little black dress” girl over a floral patterned dress, but I have never seen a little black dress at an engagement session that I didn’t love! I have seen this done with many different levels of “formality” for a partner (dress jeans, dress, shirt, and tie all the way to full suit) and I just love it. If you like the formality and simplicity of style 1 and 2 but need a little more contrast and pop- this is for you!
A lot of my couples tend to either choose their season, and then keep that in mind when choosing their outfit style (more likely to wear those bold Maroons or burnt oranges in the fall, and pastels in the spring), OR they choose their e-session season around what sorts of colors they want (so if they are looking for soft blushes and neutrals, they might be more likely to go late winter/early spring). I think this makes a lot of sense– and while I think you CAN make any style work any season, it might be a way to help you decide one way or another! OR have the best of 2 worlds, and choose one style for your formal outfit, and a different one for your casual outfit (and work with your photographer to find locations that work for each!)!
I hope this is super helpful for anyone struggling withe What to Wear question! It is a big one– but hopefully one of those styles resonated with you and can help you decide!