What to Wear to an Engagement Session

Charlotte couple being photographed with foreheads touching eyes closed celebrating their engagement in Romare Bearden park showing what to wear to an engagement session
Charlotte couple being photographed during engagement session in Romare Bearden Park.

I was asked to provide a piece on what to wear to an engagement session by my soon-to-be sister-in-law. Not only just to provide her with this information, but she is a part of several wedding groups online, and stated this question is asked “about 4 times a day.” So clearly, there’s a need for this information!

While being photographed professionally for the first time as a couple can be stressful, it doesn’t have to be! I’ve put together 10 easy tips to guide you through choosing what you and your spouse-to-be should wear. Remember, this is an exciting time in your life! Engagement sessions are a celebration of your declaration of love and the nuptials to come! So HAVE FUN!

1) Choose a Color Scheme

When choosing the color of your outfits, try to coordinate them. Choosing colors that complement each other rather than matching is much more natural-looking. While the style of everyone being photographed wearing one color (for example, everyone wearing white or black shirts) might have been trendy back in the early 2000s, those days have come and gone.

If you both love wearing blues for example, we advise you both choosing similar colors, not the same color. You most likely don’t wear the exact same color any other day, so why do so for your session?

2) Carefully Choose Strong Patterns and Stripes

Strong patterns and stripes are often distracting. We generally suggest going for something more solid so the focus stays on you. That being said, if you prefer patterns or prints, just be sure to balance it out with your partner’s outfit. For example, if a gentleman LOVES his checkered shirt, his partner should balance out the pattern by wearing a solid colored shirt. Don’t forget, texture like lace or linen can help add interest if you’re worried about things being too simple.

3) Consider Your Location

Flip flops are nice for the beach, but close-toed shoes (and heels for girls) look better in photos. That being said, consider the location and time of year you’re being photographed. You want the ensemble to make sense visually i.e. no stilettos on the beach and no sleeveless tops for winter.

4) Consider Hair and Make-up

Hair and make-up can really add more polish to photos. The better you feel, the more enjoyable this experience will be! Having confidence in front of someone who may be a new acquaintance, or just being in front of a camera in general, can be hard. Set yourself up for success by feeling fabulous!

5) Separate Looks

Feel free to bring a second (or more) look(s)! If you decide to do a wardrobe change, we recommend something totally different from your first look (i.e. casual to dressy). Many brides are unsure what to wear because these images will have so much meaning, but there are so many different styles of clothing to choose from. You don’t have to be put in a box as far as only wearing one look. That being said, if you do opt for outfit changes, be sure to know where you can change ahead of time. Otherwise you may be forced to change in your car (which I hilariously have done!)

6) Show Your Personality

Bring anything that speaks to your style or story! These images are about you so don’t be afraid to be and show who you are.

Tim and I brought several items to our engagement session. One of the most precious pieces was my great-grandmother’s handmade quilt. She made a quilt for every grandchild as a wedding gift. Unfortunately she never saw me walk down the aisle, but I took the quilt she made for my mother and used it as our blanket in a grassy area for a few photos.

While this may not count as something to wear, this category is nonetheless reflective of you. You can incorporate sports memorabilia, signage, or your pets. Just be yourselves!

7) Just Say no to Tanning

Artificial tans are typically too strong. While they look nice in person, they do not represent natural skin tones in photos. They can often make you look too orange, and no one wants that! Your friends/loved ones like your skin color the way it is. Again – just be yourselves!

8) Consider a Rental Service

If you don’t want to break the bank, and have access to tons of styles, consider using a rental service like Rent the Runway. Not only do they offer amazing dresses for special occasions, they have a Wedding Concierge Service to help you plan your outfits for all of your upcoming events (like your engagement photos, engagement parties, bridal shower, etc). Services like this make deciding what to wear even more fun!

9) Clean Your Ring

You’d be surprised what a macro lens can pick up! This precious piece is a symbol of your commitment, and is naturally a center of attention. Be sure it’s shined up and looks it’s best for a few photos! If you can’t make it to your local jewelry store to have your ring cleaned, I have a trick I learned while working in jewelry during college.

  • Put your ring in a small glass of hot water mixed with a few drops of dial soap. Let it soak. (30 minutes is usually enough).
  • Remove the ring from the glass and grab an old or spare toothbrush.
  • Place a few drops of dial soap on the toothbrush, dip it in the glass of water to wet it and scrub your ring thoroughly. Make sure to get the underside of the diamond (this is called the “culet” and it’s where the light refracts and adds that sparkle you see!)
  • Rinse the ring with hot water.
  • Scrub again if necessary.

10) Relax

You might have a few butterflies because an engagement session is both an exciting event, and it’s also something you’ve never done. That’s okay! Trust your photographer. They don’t expect you to be a pro at this. We work with normal people constantly, so don’t worry if you’re not a model. It takes maybe 20 minutes or so to warm up and get comfortable, so just relax. You’re going to do great! We know how to pose you, put you in good light, and get those images you crave!


I hope you found this post helpful, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out! Happy planning!


Black and white image of Tim and Shannon DeLong of DeLong Photography in Riverfront Park park smiling at the camera

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