ENGAGEMENT SESSION STYLE GUIDE
Without a doubt, the number one question I am asked before engagement sessions is, "What do we wear?" Picking out your wardrobe for the portrait session is something that sounds easy, but I've found that most people really appreciate having some tips to help them with those outfit selections. This is where my style-guide comes in! This is information that I only share with my brides and they are the result of answering many of the same questions over and over again. If you're a little stressed out about what to wear, know that you are definitely not alone! If you are in need of a little outfit inspiration, then read on and start planning your engagement session wardrobe! If you already know exactly what you want to wear, that's awesome, but there are still a few non-wardrobe tips that you might want to check out, so I encourage you to scroll on down and check out the info as well. See you at your engagement session! :)
STYLE TIPS FOR LADIES
This is your chance to dress it up! Remember: There is no such thing as "too dressed up" when it comes to your engagement session, so don't be afraid to have some fun! Most brides love having a great excuse to bring a new permanent piece (or two!) into their closet!
Say Yes to the Dress
Long, flowy dresses and skirts look AMAZING on camera because they bring extra movement to the photos. Especially when juxtaposed with nature, like moss filled oak trees. Cute, shorter-length dresses photograph beautifully as well. Dresses and skirts tend to look most stunning on camera because they really flatter the female body -- which is probably why the red carpet is always full of so many dresses and not very many pants suits!
One or Two? It's Up To You!
Most brides who choose two outfits will bring one "wow" dress, and then another shorter sun dress or cocktail dress for a more casual "us on a date" feel. But if you bring two "wow" dresses and forgo the more casual dress altogether, give yourself permission to do it! The camera loves runway-esque apparel! Remember though, you don't have to bring two looks if it's too stressful, or you'd rather stick to just one fabulous look. One outfit that you LOVE will be so much better than one outfit you love and another you're not very excited about. So, one or two? It's really up to you! If you want to have a more casual look for one of your outfits, I recommend wearing jeans, or pants that fully cover your legs, rather than shorts.
When choosing colors for your outfits, I recommend selecting lighter tones and more muted shades. By avoiding ultra-bright, bold colors, it will help bring all the attention to your faces and let the eye focus on the way you feel about each other. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, and leather brown. That softer color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural environments. Have a bold personality and prefer deeper tones? You can still go for a punch of color, but just keep in mind that one dominant color is enough. I do recommend steering clear of shades of green when your location has lots of greenery and trees. I also recommend steering clear of white if you have darker skin because white is such a strong contrast to darker skin tones, making it harder to get a good exposure for both your skin and your clothing.
Coordinating the Looks
As you're coordinating your outfit with your fiance's, keep in mind that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palettes coordinate, but don't necessarily "match." You should each aim to wear a different dominant color, but stay within a similar color palette family. So if you're wearing a blush dress, soft blue earrings and nude heels (blush being your dominant color), then he could wear a navy coat with gray pants, paired with brown leather shoes and maybe even a blush pocket square. Now he has his own dominant color (navy), while still incorporating a few touches of your color palette. Most brides choose their dress first, then put together their fiance's outfit based on that. Scroll on down for tips for gentlemen.
Flattering Your Features
Ever find yourself wondering how celebrities always look so good in photographs? Sure, they have the help of stylists, but what those stylists are so good at doing is selecting clothing for their clients that is complimentary to their shape. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you'll love the way you look in your photos. Three-quarter length sleeves create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer sleeve if you are worried about how your arms will look on camera. You could also bring a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan along too. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera, so I recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is a set of slimmer-looking arms. Heels elongate a woman's legs, making them look fabulous. Close-toed heels in particular look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session so you don't regret letting your feet show. For beach sessions, plan to go barefoot because that is what looks most natural when you're walking in the sand. Dresses that nip in at the waist (either naturally, or with the help of a belt) will help to define your waist, creating a super-feminine silhouette. If you're thinking, "I hope she can make me look thin" ahead of your session, then you'll definitely want to select an outfit with some waist definition. These little tricks make all the difference in flattering your features for your portraits!
Bonus Tip: Bring a pair of flats to wear when walking from place to place during your session. Your fee with thank you later!
Make A Statement
Pairing an accessory or two with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images. Big statement necklaces bring a lot of pop to the photos, while smaller, delicate ones are not as noticeable on camera. Belts, bracelets, and earrings bring great visual interest, so choose one or two that don't compete for attention. Fresh florals in a crown or bouquet can be a really romantic touch as well.
Go Pro: Hair & Makeup
Professional hair and makeup is on the top of most brides' checklists because it looks amazing and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. Whether it's eye-definition, or blown-out hair, professional hair and makeup will give you an extra boost of confidence in front of the camera, and it always photographs like a dream. If you're working with a makeup artist, have her apply your makeup in natural light, if possible, so that it looks fresh and not too heavy. Plus, that's the type of light we'll be shooting in, so it will give you the best expectation of how it will translate on camera. Most brides that go pro for their session feel like their makeup is "too much" at first, since it's more than you would wear on a normal day, so if you feel that way at the beginning, don't worry! Good makeup artists know how to get it just right for the camera--and brides always love the final result. If you're still searching for a hair and makeup artist for your wedding day, this is the perfect time to do a little vendor research!
Bonus Tips: Confidence is ALWAYS the best accessory.
Don't forget a little extra polish! Your ring will be center stage, so give yourself permission to get it cleaned and have your nails done too!
Skip The Spray Tan
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, I recommend that you do not get a spray tan before your session, or even a few days prior, because it tends to photograph orange even when it's applied subtly by a professional. Your actual skin tone will photograph the most beautifully. Orange skin due to spray tans cannot be corrected in editing.
TIPS FOR GENTLEMEN
Because dapper and debonair never go out of style.
As Long as He's Got that Suit & Tie
From James Bond to Don Draper, men look most striking in a well-tailored suit. If he doesn't have one, now is the perfect time to invest in something he'll wear for the rest of his life! The best part? It's a lot less expensive than you might think! While custom suits can cost thousands of dollars, some of the most well-known brands have off-the-rack suits in their stores for a fraction of the price. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong compliment to most women's outfits, whereas pinstripes and/or plaid tend to distract the eye. No suit, no worries! Nice trousers and a sport coat can be a great dressy-casual look!
Mix It Up
Many grooms love to mix a suit coat, blazer or sport coat with a different pant color. It adds some extra visual interest, and can be more fun than wearing two full suits in a row. I'm a big fan of this fresh take on a timeless classic.
Next time you walk by a store like J. Crew, you'll notice the male mannequins and models are always wearing several layers at once. Layers on men look great on camera, so even when it's hot outside, it's worth an hour or two of discomfort for photos that will last you both a lifetime. Adding another layer will bring extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, vests and coats up the level of any look. If the temperature permits, he could even consider adding a v-neck sweater with a pop of color from a long-sleeved collared shirt and tie underneath. Don't be afraid to get a little creative with layers!
It's All in the Details
Long pants and closed-toes shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from his legs and feet and place it where you want it: on the face you fell in love with. So, for your session, it's best to leave the shorts, sandals and jeans at home, to. Suit pants, dress pants, or colored pants work best. Brown leather dress shoes compliment almost every look, whether he's wearing a full suit or a blazer and colored pants. Ties, bowties, pocket squares, colored socks, belts, tie clips, suspenders, vests and watches are sharp complements to any suit. If you bring two suits to the session, you can start with a traditional necktie and belt, then switch to suspenders and a bow tie for your second look. If two suits are too stressful, no problem! One look will do the trick! You can still mix and match accessories to complement both of her dresses without doing a full change during the session. So, either way, you win.
How to Prep Your Man
Most men aren't overly excited to take photos for an hour and a half, because they don't have an expectation of what's to come and why it's so important to you. Take 15 minutes to educate and empower your guy. Tell him WHY you chose me and my style of photography to capture your wedding day. Show him some of the engagement sessions I've done and explain why you love them and express to him how much it means to you. Trust me, he'll light up the camera for you! The most common thing I hear from guys before the engagement session is this: because of a bad experience in the past, they don't like taking photos OR don't think they'll be good at it. By the time we're done though, they can't believe how fast it went by and how much fun they had!
After the Session
Don't forget to plan a dinner date! You're already going to be all dressed up! Why not take advantage of it? The wedding planning process can feel all-consuming, so take some time after the session just for the two of you to relax and have some fun together.