You just had the best night of your life. Your significant other took you out on a magical date and at the end of it, they proposed. This is the moment you've been waiting for since you were five. Since you saw your aunt and uncle get married in your grandparent's church, that rigid, conservative building that was transformed into a magical wonderland celebrating love for just one evening, almost two decades ago. You have a venue and a photographer lined up in your mind already, and you decide to announce your engagement to the world with a series of beautiful photos of you and your fiancé. There is just one problem, you don't know what to wear during the engagement shoot. You've pictured your formal wear for the wedding hundreds of times, but you didn't even think about what you'd wear for an engagement shoot.
As you can guess, one of the most frequent questions I receive as a photographer is, “What should we wear to the engagement shoot?” Pick the outfit that makes you look your absolute best, then pick something out for your fiancé that matches the style of your outfit and makes them look great. This will make you and your fiancé feel confident and comfortable, because you both know you look great. If you don't feel confident, that will affect your body language and poise during the shoot, which will make for unflattering pictures. You don't have anything to worry about though, because you look great. ;)
I think one of the biggest mistakes made when planning an engagement photo session is to pick a location before deciding on the clothes. Out of the many engagement sessions I've done, I feel that I could put my couples into three categories: vintage, classic-chic, & trendy-casual. Before you pick a location to do the photo shoot with your photographer, call them and just describe what kind of outfit you're planning to wear and then see where they would suggest doing the engagement session based on that.
Your style should be complimented by your surroundings during a photo shoot. This makes for fantastic pictures that you'll be extremely excited to show to your family and friends (and frenemies). If you're struggling to find a location or if your photographer doesn't have any recommendations, that's okay. Below you'll find a quick style guide I put together with some helpful tips to match your personal style to a great location.
Rural Shoot for Vintage Style
I think that vintage style clothing is perfect for a more rural setting. It doesn't work as well in urban areas or even most small towns, because of the modern store fronts and vehicles that conflict with the era from which the clothes come. It's easy to keep the vintage feel consistent during the shoot if you stick with fields, farms, and trees.
Small Town or Park Shoot for the Classic-Chic Style
The classic black dress paired with a suit and tie really works well anywhere, but my favorite place to see this look is in small sophisticated towns. In a small town the simplicity of the outfits aren't drowned out by a a busy, urban background. The black dress and suit with a tie fit in well with the clean lines and smooth textures of a small town or park, much better than they do with the harsh textures found in more rustic settings.
Downtown Urban Shoot for the Trendy-Casual Style
A more trendy look is perfect for those downtown shoots. Fashion comes from the cities, so your clothes feel like they are at home in every picture.
Additional tips for picking an outfit for a photo shoot
If you must go casual (t-shirts, jeans, etc), stick with the city. The atmosphere is much more appropriate for this type of outfit.
Match styles, not colors. Stick with the same color temperature, or use an accent from a dress to match his tie, like in the small town couple's pictures above (green belt and green tie). Also, keep the level of formality or casualness the same. If you are wearing a dress and heals, make sure your fiancé is planning to wear a more formal outfit as well.
Trust your photographer. If you are worried about your body or if there is something you always dislike in pictures, let your photographer know. Your photographer can suggest clothes or patterns that'll help to draw the eye away from areas that make you feel insecure.
For slimming clothes:
If you are still concerned about any problem areas, remember that your photographer should be able to work around any insecurities you have. Different types of poses and backgrounds can make a difference in how the body looks in photos, and your photographer can position you in beneficial ways.
For legs: Heels or wedges help lengthen your legs. Dresses and skirts with cuts that hit the middle of the thighs or caves will make the leg appear larger. Ill fitting shorts, pants, or skirts are noticeable in photos. If your clothes are too big, it'll make you look bigger, and if your clothes are too small, that will also make you look bigger.
For Arms & Body: Tanktops or sleeveless tops aren't the most flattering, but it's not necessary to avoid them completely. Bold patterns, bright tones, and white can dominate pictures. If people look at a picture and can't help but to look at your bold-patterned, bright-toned, white clothing, then they won't be looking at any of the areas that make you feel insecure.
Just remember the most important thing you should wear is confidence. If you are feeling great about yourself, you'll feel great about the shoot. That will stand out more than anything else in the photos. If you need help feeling confident, just lift your arms in the air for 10 seconds and shout out, "I look great!" If that doesn't work, then keep shouting with your hands in the air till you really feel it deep down in your chest, then start the engagement session. Remember, that behavior is only weird if your photographer doesn't yell out in response, "Yes you do!"
Now get out there and dominate your engagement session. Then show off the awesome pictures to everyone in the world. You're in love and getting married, everyone will want to celebrate this moment of your life with you.