Graphic displaying - 10 ways to help your couples decide what to wear for their engagement sessions

One of the biggest questions photographers often get from couples is, “What do we wear for the engagement session”? Now, as a pro photographer, you might tell them that there are no hard and fast rules to follow when deciding what to wear for engagement sessions. However, you could offer some simple tips to lessen their stress when selecting an outfit. Getting engaged is a special moment for couples, so as they document their joy through photographs, it’s important for them to look and feel their best.

This blog offers tips that you could use to guide your couples when choosing engagement session outfits. While ‘professional stylist’ may not be on your CV, you still are in a great position to offer advice on how to dress to look good on camera. From finding comfort with class to complementing each other, there’s something on this list for every couple. If you really want to go the extra mile for your couples, you could also jump in and help with planning the whole session. Not sure about how to do that? Let us help you out with this blog on Planning An Engagement Session.

A Simple Guide on What to Wear For Engagement Sessions

If you’ve ever had a professional photo session yourself, you know that half the stress is deciding what to wear! Put yourself in your client’s shoes (and clothes!) and gift them with these great tips for what to wear for their engagement session. In doing so, you may just become the hero of the moment!

1. Staying in the Comfort Zone

Black and white portrait of a couple holding each other with the girl resting her hand on the guy’s chest

You’ve heard it said that it’s good to get out of your comfort zone every now and then, but this kind of advice might not be the best for your clients when they are deciding what to wear for engagement sessions! If comfort IS important to them, get to know that ahead and suggest they just be themselves as they finalize outfits. If they are concerned that “being themselves” isn’t enough, suggest they enhance their style with some accessories or pops of color – think jewelry, scarves, or shoes. Ultimately, if comfort is their go-to, they’ll be happy and worry less as long as they are comfortable.

2. Be Yourself

An engagement session portrait of a couple hugging each other - with the guy kissing the girl’s cheek

We mentioned above that “being yourself” can be some of the best advice for your clients when choosing their engagement session clothing. But what does “being yourself” really mean? It means encouraging your couple to wear something that is authentically them. Advise them to pick something that goes with their personality and their style. If they like to wear formal pants and skirts on normal days, you could suggest that they go with something similar when they are deciding what to wear for engagement sessions.

A great place to start is by asking them questions about what they already gravitate to with clothing; is there a specific color they have a lot of in their closet? Is there an outfit they wear already that they get compliments on whenever they wear it? Asking these kinds of questions will likely start them thinking, and more often than not, they will land on something they already own that they can either wear or build on.

3. Going Against the Trend

Some couples might be into keeping up with the latest trends in fashion, and others may not necessarily know about what’s going on on the runway. If your couple falls in the latter category, you could suggest that they steer clear from blindly following trends as you advise them on what to wear for engagement sessions. Basically, they shouldn’t just wear something because everyone else is wearing it! Try to assure them that what they wear for their engagement session does not have to be all about the most fashionable or trendy new clothes, unless that is truly their style.

4. Complementing Each Other

A portrait of a couple facing and holding each other during an engagement session

Your couple might want to match their outfits, and while there is nothing wrong with that, sometimes matching outfits can look dated down the line. Instead, suggest they choose clothes with colors or prints that complement each other as they decide what to wear for engagement sessions.

An example of this would be one of them wears a solid color, and the other wears a print that has that same solid color mixed in. If they really want to match, you could suggest they find matching accessories that also complement their outfits – this way, they get the best of both worlds! Pinterest is a great resource for clothing ideas and could be of great help to your couple when they are deciding what to wear for their engagement session.

5. Add Accessories

Black and white image of a couple smiling & facing each other with the guy reaching for the girl’s hat.

We’ve mentioned accessories a few times now. But don’t underestimate how a little detail can change almost any outfit. So, if your couple is having a difficult time making their engagement session outfits ‘special’, you could suggest they add some accessories like glamorous jewelry (statement pieces stand out much better in photos than delicate ones), sunglasses (you can capture pictures with and without these in them), hats, quirky prints on socks or bow ties. If they want to get more creative, you could even advise them to pick a theme for their engagement session.

6. Choosing Multiple Outfits

“How many outfits should I select for the engagement session?” is another question that couples often ask apart from what to wear for engagement sessions. The answer is: It’s totally up to the couple and you as their photographer. While a single outfit is perfectly fine, picking two or three outfits will give the couple a variety of photos. One of the outfits could be a little formal and classy, the other could be more casual, and the third could be more glam. You could suggest these options to your couples and discuss how much time you’d want to dedicate to each outfit. Just be sure if you’re adding outfits that you identify the extra time involved and plan accordingly!

7. Having a Photo-Friendly Color Palette

A portrait of a couple facing and holding each other

Not everyone knows which colors photograph well, so spend some time discussing the outfits’ color scheme with your couple. Solid colors and soft prints tend to photograph better, but if they’ve decided to keep a theme for their engagement session, then you might not have much to work with here. Neutral and pastels are always a good fall back, but choosing white vs. cream as the neutral can depend on their skin tone and the session’s location. In the end, there really is no wrong answer for color as long as it looks good on the couple, works with the background, and doesn’t create conflict visually.

8. Pay Attention to Footwear

Yes, you may not be a pro stylist, but from the weddings and sessions you’ve photographed, you know footwear makes for some really amazing detail photos. So, instead of matching their whole outfit with each other, you could suggest that your couple match their footwear! In case that’s not what they want, you could ask them to select footwear that stands out but is also comfortable. They could change the vibe of their entire outfit with just a cool pair of shoes.

9. Dress for the Weather and Location

A couple holding each other while being covered by a scarf during a winter engagement session

Working with the weather and the location can make planning what to wear for engagement sessions a little easier. If you are shooting in the cold, you could suggest that they go for cozy sweaters, big woolen scarves, and cute hats. If you are photographing an engagement session in a tropical area, light linen dresses, shirts, and pants effortlessly convey that chill, tropical vibe. The locations and the weather can provide endless ideas and help guide what to wear for engagement sessions.

Shooting a COVID engagement? How to Plan for COVID Engagement Sessions could help keep you and your couple safe.

10. Communicate Constantly

If your couple still seems to be having a hard time deciding what to wear for their engagement session even after you’ve doled out all the above advice, consider asking them to text you or email you some ideas (or even create a Pinterest board of favorites), and you can weigh in on what you think will work best. This can help even the most indecisive couple decide whether they like their outfit or not. You could also suggest that your couple choose one “best” outfit but bring one or two backup outfits to the session just in case.

Now that they’re dressed for success, here are some tips on helping your couple get comfortable in front of the camera: Engagement Session Posing.

Encourage Them to Enjoy the Session

Black and white photo of a couple holding hands & splashing water at each other while standing knee-dipped in the lake

If it really seems like your couple cannot decide what to wear after ALL the advice you’ve given, consider having a candid conversation with them about valuing what’s important. Instead of stressing over everything, just choose something that feels and looks good and then focus on faces and emotional connection in the photos. Ultimately this session is about the love they share, and the clothing, and even the location, should not supersede that. In the end, it comes down to your couples feeling connected. So whether they are going all fancy or opting for a more casual vibe, let them be who they are and let their love shine through.

Further Read: 12 Engagement Photo Themes To Fit Every Mood and Budget

At ShootDotEdit, we believe that photographers can go the extra mile for their couples, like helping them dress for their engagement session. To learn how else we can help your wedding photography business, check out our price plans.

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