Engagement Session Style Guide
Updated: Dec 10, 2020
It's one of the top questions I get asked and one that I love to answer. Your engagement session will probably be the first time you and your honey have taken photos for longer than 10 minutes. You want them to be memorable but you also want them to be you. With every engagement session, I ask the couple if they want a style guide. This post is essentially my style guide, complied after years of experience, with what outfits couples have raved over. So without further ado, here are my styling tips and tricks!!
STYLE TIP 1: Bring a more casual, date-night type outfit!
If we are being serious, most of the guys do not want to wear a tux or suit in their engagement photos. We'll talk about dressing it up later, but I say this because you can typically warm them up to the idea by letting them dress more casual in the beginning. I also love the more casual look if we plan on doing a lot of moving. Some of my couples like adventure type sessions, less posed and more candid. Running in the water, spraying champagne on each other, or your guy throwing you over his shoulder all works better in a less restricting wardrobe.
STYLE TIP 2: Wear an outfit that represents you as a person or couple
Another option other than a casual outfit would be to wear something that represents you! I've taken engagement photos for couples who wanted to wear a military uniform, college gear, police uniform, etc. For these photos, we got to showcase Sam in his fire uniform. It was a sweet dedication to his hard work and it photographed so beautifully paired with Hannah's white dress!
STYLE TIP 3: Bring a formal option!
These photos are normally my most gushed over. When a couple does it up with suits, layers, and dresses...it just makes the photos POP!
Besides your wedding, this is likely going to be one of the only other times you get to dress super fancy and take photos so... why not go all out? This is the style that people are actually apprehensive about because they don't want to spend extra money on a fancy dress, guys are not super excited about getting super dressed up, or couples are concerned that it will be hard to bring all the stuff necessary to dress up. I promise that even with those things, you won't regret dressing fancy for your engagement session. A lot of girls use rent the runway to get a really fancy dress but not actually purchase something. This is a great option!! Recently though, I have found that it isn't all that much cheaper to Rent the Runway vs. actually just getting the dress you want.
If your guy is really pushing a hard no on the suit idea, khakis and a sport coat can also achieve the look you are going for, or even just khakis and a nice pressed white shirt. My husband actually has a "photo uniform" that we joke about. His khakis (we've changed up the shade before), his Lululemon white button up and his nice pair of loafers (summer) or leather boots/cowboy boots (winter). If I want him to get super fancy, we throw on his sport coat and call it a day. The biggest tip I have is to just explain that this is once, other than your wedding day, that you will be taking "fancy" photos and it means a lot to you to get it right! He'll want to make sure you are excited and happy about the photos, I promise.
If all else fails....ply him with a date night after at his favorite place...Hannah took Sam to Estancia and let him eat all the Brazilian steak he wanted! haha
STYLE TIP 4: Don't match exactly
Long gone are the days of matching white t-shirts and jeans. People are getting more and more creative with their outfit choices and your engagement photos are going to be seen by a wholeeeee lot of people. Do you guys match on a normal basis? If the answer is no, then you probably will feel out of place trying to match in your engagement photos. Instead, opt for complimentary colors or outfits. Guys always look really great in layers, so think sports coats, vests, suspenders. Ladies, if you want to look taller, long dresses are always a good idea as they can be casual or formal! Pair with nude pumps to add even more length!
Another good tip is to try to keep a color scheme for your various outfits. So, if you change but still want to be able to hang the engagement photos side by side on the wall, they will still flow really nicely together. A good example of this (and really my whole style guide) is the engagement session of Natalie and Mike shot at the Pearl in San Antonio. I'll provide the link below if you'd like to go check it out!
STYLE TIP 5: Each of you gets a color and try to keep them neutral
This tip, I think, is the trickiest to figure out but once you do you are going to love it from now until you've taken your last photoshoot at the age of 100. You each should have a color. The other person's accent color should match your main color. Now, these rules can be broken, obviously, but it's always best to stay in the same color wheel or even try to match the same color scheme as the environment you'll be in. Sam and Hannah wore various shades of cream to achieve this color palette and if you notice, the brown accents they wore closely matched each other and the environment. A note about the environment: If you are going to be in a very very green location, I always suggest going with neutral, light colors. Green can be very overpowering in images and if you're in an equally overpowering color, like red, it can be distracting to your eyes. This is why so many dreamy, soft, airy wedding photos are loved by so many. Green trees, black tuxes and white wedding gowns just look so clean and crisp.
STYLE TIP 6: Avoid bright colors and small stripes
Going along with the color conversation above, bright colors can be A LOT in your photos. If you chose a location with lots of white walls and wide open spaces, bright pink, red, green, or yellow isn't bad and often adds the pop you are looking for. But if you're in a busy location, those colors could be a distraction and make your photos feel even busier. Best to stick with light shades or deep shades. Imagine if in this set of photos, Hannah's dress was hot pink. It would totally take away from the vibrant colors in the trees and the viewers eye wouldn't be sure where to look first. Additionally, stripes appear like a good choice initially but if they are too small sometimes can look funky in camera. Also, if your guy wears a striped shirt for a summer session, and sweats, editing out sweat marks might be impossible due to the pattern and where the sweat marks are.
And there you have it! My favorite "what to wear" tips for achieving the most gorgeous engagement photos! I hope after reading this blog you have a little more direction and a little less stress. Let's get your shoot set up! :)
Interested in seeing another real couple, Natalie and Mike, ace their engagement photos? click here! https://www.laurastilesphoto.com/post/military-themed-engagement-shoot-at-the-pearl-in-san-antonio