As we enter the peek of engagement season, many newly engaged couples are beginning their wedding planning journey. Of the seemingly endless list of items to check off of the "to-do" list, finding and hiring a photographer is generally close to the top. A good number of wedding photographers offer collections that include one or more portrait sessions, and if you choose a wedding collection that includes an engagement session (or you decide to book one separately), that can be the first real opportunity you and your fiancé have to 1.) get to know your photographer and how they work, and 2.) practice taking direction from them and establishing a level of comfort in front of the camera (if you are a part of the majority who doesn't make a living as a professional model:) Once I book a client and we get their engagement session scheduled, that's when I feel the real fun begins! Over the past several years I've noticed that the #1 question I get asked right after scheduling an engagement session is "What should I wear?" While dreaming of finding that perfect wedding gown is common-place, I've discovered that many couples get overwhelmed with the thought of choosing outfits from among the endless options available for their engagement session. So the question becomes, "where do we start?"
While I would always recommend that couples utilize their portrait session to the max, I also realize that not all couples are looking to land on the front page of a blog or cover of a magazine with an elaborate portrait session full of flower crowns, bouquets, and rented props. While that can certainly be lovely, you absolutely do not need all of those items in order to create meaningful and authentic imagery. With that being said, there are certain decisions you can make to that will go a long way in helping ensure your pictures include that "WOW" factor.
1.) If possible, hire a professional to do your hair and makeup. Time and time again I have seen clients opt out of this one and many times they end up regretting it. The fact is, makeup done well highlights all of your amazing attributes, and it is also a FANTASTIC opportunity to essentially interview prospective hair and makeup artists for your wedding day. It's a perfect trial-run opportunity.
2.) Choose clothing that you are still comfortable in. At the end of the day, if you and/or your fiancé are dressed completely opposite of your style and personality, it will typically show through in the images. Engagement pictures should showcase your interaction and relationship in a way that is authentic and genuine, and if you are uncomfortable in your clothing, either because it is physically uncomfortable, or because it is so far off of your style, it will be harder to capture that authentic vibe.
3.) After considering #2, when in doubt...go dressier! This may seem in direct contradiction to #2, but in reality, many couples stick to a "I like this outfit" mentality, when they instead could choose to look outside of their closet and the things that they would typically wear. In my opinion, ball gowns and tuxedos are not at all necessary, but dressier attire usually always photographs better than the throwback mentality of "matching white shirts and blue jeans". Full disclosure: I fell pray to this practice back in 2006. See picture on the right.
4.) Look to rent! This is probably one of my favorite suggestions to clients. Shopping for your engagement session doesn't have to and should not break your bank. It is a myth that you have to go out and buy all new EVERYTHING. Technology is an amazing thing, and of all of the amazing benefits that we reap from its use, online runway couture rental is probably my favorite:) My favorite online rental company is Rent the Runway. They offer a huge selection of designer brands, an easy to navigate website and rental process, a variety of sizes and styles, accessories, handbags, and jewelry that compliment your selections, and easy return of your rentals.
5.) Multiple outfit changes are not a necessity. Many couples may feel the urge to bring 3 or 4 outfit changes to their engagement session, but in my experience this ends up with the couple spending a good amount of time changing and less time actually taking pictures. It can make it harder to get in to a rhythm, and instead of going with the flow of a session, time begins to be allotted for various outfits ("outfit A will be when we are in the field, outfit B can be when we are on the bride, etc.") Constant outfit changing can break the flow of the session and waste precious daylight. In the end, 1 to 2 outfits is usually all you really need and will go a long way in helping ensure the session flows as smoothly as possible. Consulting with your photographer before the session and sending them shots of your outfit selections can be beneficial as well. Chances are they can help in the decision making process and steer you in a direction that helps maximize the experience.
6.) Textures, colors, layers, oh my! My one big piece of advice: don't be afraid! They help add depth and interest to your images, and while many people may flinch at the idea, don't be afraid to mix it up a bit. One word of warning: some incredibly saturated and bright colors can actually serve to cast the color back up on you (ex: neon pink dress that will in turn will likely give your face a bit of a pink glow), so when in doubt, don't hesitate to ask your photographer! Bottom line: your wardrobe choices don't have to be confined to those white shirts and blue jean choices of yesteryear. Branch out and embrace the beauty that is out there!