How to Create the Perfect Look for Your Engagement Session Photos | Hannah Bjorndal

How to Create the Perfect Look for Your Engagement Session Photos

Choosing what to wear and how to coordinate with one another is probably the biggest challenge that couples face when planning for their engagement session. Your wardrobe suddenly seems so much smaller and more limited, doesn’t it? The good news is that there are so many ways to make outfits, old & new, look fantastic in photos. My suggestions in this article will assist in sparking some ideas and also discourage you from common mistakes!

The Basics

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of outfit-planning, you should once again consider the details you already have in place. You’ll want to make a final decision on location before nailing down outfits, because the backdrop of your photos will affect the outfits & style you choose! Think about the vibes & general colors of the location you’ve chosen. Is there a lot of white stone & regal architecture, like at the D.C. memorials? Are there tons of intricate details, a variety of buildings & vibrant colors, like the streets of Old Town Alexandria? Is there tons & tons of natural greens, like in a garden or park? Think about what is surrounding you and use this as a base to gauge what kind of outfits will look best. Your Pinterest mood board will also be your best friend as you look for inspiration!

Look back through the ideas and photos you pinned. You might just find the perfect outfit inspiration here! As I mentioned in a previous article, use this engagement session as an excuse to pamper yourself! Buy a new outfits, splurge on hair & makeup, and get your nails done, girl!

In general, think this out in advance and play with different options. Talk to each other and make decisions before the big day, so that you are both happy and comfortable with your choice! And, of course, make decisions based on what you feel good wearing! Feeling comfortable & confident is essential!

Colors & Patterns

I get so many questions about what colors to wear! Luckily, there are a few essential rules that will contribute to making you look extra-beautiful.

Let’s start with the basics: neutrals are your best friend. I’m not saying that you have to be completely monochromatic, but using neutral colors as a base is a great way to start! Black, nude, white, cream & grey are all great ways to start. Cool colors like navy, emerald, dusty blue & burgundy compliment many surrounding areas beautifully. Pale pastels are also a great option!

Colors to avoid: bright orange, neon green or yellow, hot pink, bright red, and bright purple – especially in solids! While there’s nothing wrong with these colors in and of themselves, these tons tend to reflect ugly light onto your face & skin. You can definitely use very small pops of these colors, but don’t where them as your base!

Next, it’s time to think about textures & patterns. When I was a brand new photographer, I thought patterns were a no-no for photos, but I was so very wrong! The addition of textures & patterns to your outfit is actually the best way to create a look that has depth and style. I highly encourage couples to choose a mixture of patterns, textures & solids for the outfits. Don’t be afraid to choose a dress with floral print or a bold, patterned tie.

Finally, let’s discuss bringing it all together. Couples often ask about how to plan outfits together – Should we match? Should we both just do our own thing? How do we make it look all look good together? The answer: coordinate, don’t match.

Looking back at that Pinterest mood board, you might notice that there are a handful of colors that show up a lot. Choose a basic color palette (a few neutrals & one or two pops of color) and stick to these. You definitely don’t want to be wearing the exact same colors – in fact, you might not end up wearing the same colors at all! Just be sure that together, all the colors coordinate.

Don’t be afraid to bounce ideas off of me! I’m here to help!

Apparel Options

There are a lot of options for type of clothing, especially for the ladies! It might feel a little overwhelming – especially if you’re like me, and you love SO many different styles!

So before we go any further, I want you to think about what flatters your body type most. More than likely, you already know what you feel great in, and what you feel not-so-great in. Keep this in mind when making selections. Again, you want to feel comfortable & confident! 

Next, let’s talk about formality. Should you go super-fancy or totally casual? Many couples wonder about this. Well, there’s good news – you can do more than one outfit! I often suggest that couples choose two looks: one that is more formal, and one that is more casual. I’m still going to encourage you to go a little more stylish than your day-to-day life for both. But, this will give you options for two different looks!

For formal outfits, I love flow-y dresses & long skirts. The movement of these pieces photograph beautifully, always! Some of my favorite boutiques: Altar’d State, Francesca’s, & Madewell have beautiful options. You can also rent a variety of dresses from stores like Rent the Runway or the Black Tux for guys (ask me for my discount code!). Long, flowing dresses pair beautifully with a coat & tie for the guys. Suspenders & a bow tie are also great options!

For casual outfits, I love sundresses, rompers & jumpsuits. This is a great way to still be ultra-stylish without having a super-formal look. Guys, dark jeans & a stylish oxford (short or long-sleeved!) make a great pair. Keep it fashionable – choose stylish pieces that coordinate well.

Make sure that you two are on the same level of formal vs. casual. If he’s wearing a suit, you should probably wear a dress! Coordinating your formality is equally as important as coordinating colors!

I can’t let this section end without giving you some suggestions about what to avoid, so here we go: overly-baggy clothing, large, bold logos, ill-fitting jeans, clothing that is unintentionally see-through or shows bra straps & underwear lines, polo shirts, sneakers & college/sports team apparel (it sounds like a better idea than it is. But feel free to bring along a jersey for one photo!). I would recommend against all of these options!

Adding Dimension: Details & Accessories

Choosing the outfit is the big decision. After you have planned a general idea of what you’ll be wearing, it’s time to think about making it unique.

Friends, I can’t emphasize this one enough: accessorize. Both girls & guys should think about adding unique touches to your outfits. For girls: earrings, necklaces, scarves, bracelets, or even a hat are great ways to add dimension to your outfit. For guys: watches, tie clips, pocket squares and belts will polish your look. It may feel a little over-the-top, but this session is your opportunity to be a little bit more stylish & detailed in dress than usual!

Personally, I’m not a girl who owns 200 pairs of shoes, BUT I do appreciate an extra-pretty pair of heels. Ladies, pick a stylish pair of shoes to wear! If you can’t find the right pair in your closet, borrow a friend’s or treat yourself to a new pair! Seriously, this is the best excuse to buy yourself that pair of heels you’ve already wanted. Pretty shoes make sure a huge difference in your photos! Guys, the same goes for you. An old, worn pair of shoes will stick out like a sore thumb in photos. Pull out your favorite Cole Haan’s (or get a new pair at Nordstrom Rack!) and complete the look in style.

Still unsure of how to accessorize? Bring a few of your favorite options along to the session, and we’ll decide together!

Hair & Makeup

Obviously, you want to look your very best for your engagement session! There are a few extra steps you can take to look and feel your best. When it comes to hair and makeup, I absolutely recommend getting this done professionally! Some brides schedule their make-up and hair trial on the same day of the shoot. Or, if you don’t want to spoil the surprise for him, try a more casual look for hair and softer look for makeup. It’s amazing how pampering yourself in this way can not only make you look our best, but also boost your confidence! My favorite look is dark lashes with minimal color and beautifully trimmed and defined brows!

Now, for the guys. You’re not getting your makeup done, but you still have some prep work to look and feel your best! Let’s start with the obvious: facial hair. It is a must to have well-trimmed facial hair. A beard or mustache is perfect if it is nicely groomed. Subtle five o’clock shadow can also be sexy and natural. However, don’t come to the session with messy scruff or unattended neck hair! You also may want to go for a haircut a week or two before your session. Getting a cut the day before the session is a little risky, so schedule an appointment at least a week in advance so your hair has a little time to grow and you have time to choose how to style it.

So, there you have it! These are my BEST tips for how to create the perfect look for your engagement session photos!

Apr 30, 2019

Hannah Bjorndal

Hannah Bjorndal

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