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I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.

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How To Choose Outfits For Your Engagement Photos

February 22, 2024

The wedding venue is booked, you’ve chosen your photographer, and now the exciting part starts – celebrating with engagement photos! 

As a photographer, the engagement session is incredibly important because it’s an opportunity for us to get to know each other in a stress-free environment before the whirlwind of the big day (yes, even if you think being in front of the camera is stressful we will make it fun!).

We get to spend a few hours together, taking it slow, getting comfortable and practicing posing, so we can find the ones that will flatter the two of you most and practice to be efficient on the wedding day (the faster we knock out your photos, the more time you can spend with guests!). 

While the wedding day is the main event, engagement photos are a chance to get photos of the two of you that are more casual and personal.

I find engagement photos have a little more longevity in the short term because they aren’t tied to one specific event, so they look more timeless on the walls of your home.

They can also be used for Save the Date announcements, setting the tone of the wedding from the very start (for example, coastal engagement photos would set the tone for a Charleston wedding), and with them being more casual and personal, engagement photos also can be used in your home.

Let’s talk preparation for your engagement! 

When choosing outfits for your engagement session, you want to pick 2-3 options. Each option will most likely have its own location. 

A few things to consider when choosing outfits:

Flattering Silhouettes

There are some aspects of outfits that look great in person that simply do not photograph well.

When choosing a dress (or a skirt/top combo), think about what is being accentuated. Accentuate the things you like, draw away from what you don’t, and make sure you view it from every angle – front, back, and side!

I tend to lean towards suggesting something that cinches at the waist rather than something like a shift dress or an empire waist to accentuate and define the waistline.

Posing also requires a lot of movement, so make sure the outfits you pick allow you to comfortably place your arms on your partner’s shoulders, can do varied versions of holding onto each other, and gives the option of sitting. Arms will be visible in some poses, so keep that in mind when choosing a silhouette for your arms!

(Keep in mind the weather too. Wind on the beach and lots of ruffles don’t mix.) 

Color and Pattern 

As a photographer, I love neutrals because of the way they photograph, but with that being said – don’t be afraid to play with color and patterns!

Patterns are a way to show some personality and dimension to photos, as long as the patterns aren’t too small.

Avoid small checkered button-downs because they can cause chromatic aberration in photos, meaning the high contrast on a small scale can lead to your clothes not looking the same color they do in person.

If you want to play it safe, have one of you wear a pattern while the other goes with a solid color – or if you’re feeling confident, you can both wear a pattern. (I’m always here for it.)

When planning color, think about the color tones of the locations of your photographs.

If you’re going to a downtown or city setting, wearing something less busy will keep the patterns from getting lost in the different textures and lines of the buildings and landscaping. If you want to do something bold, think about a brighter color or fun structure.

If you’re going to a garden or field area, think about choosing organic textures and colors to compliment the natural tones. If it’s fall, you can do warm colors with a cool neutral (i.e. rust with navy) or a flannel pattern. If it’s spring, lean into the color and patterns of florals. 

Outfit Styles

I usually recommend at least one “nice” outfit – think an upscale dinner date night. A nice dress, dress pants, tucked in button-down shirt, blazer or jacket, heels, etc. 

For men, I always suggest going dressier than usual – choosing fabrics that hold their shape and photograph well. A golf polo can be acceptable for a date, but they aren’t the most ideal for photos because they aren’t forgiving (ahem, chest hair…).

For the “casual” outfit, I still recommend the men go up a level than they normally would. You can wear shorts with a button down, but leave it untucked for a walk on the beach or around downtown. (This option is also a little cooler for the hot days.)

For women, a casual outfit can be a cute top with jeans or shorts. Typically, posture is better when wearing heels or shoes with a bit of lift, so you could incorporate that into your casual look (unless you wanted to do something cute like a white sneaker!) 

But if you’re headed out to the beach, you probably won’t be wearing shoes anyways. Always consider location!

I LOVE when couples highlight their personalities in their photos. I mean that’s what it is all about – to have fun, be yourself, and take photos that you want to hang, share, and post. 

I’ve had couples bring their dogs, take out their boat, bring other things that show their personality and what they like, or use their engagements as an opportunity to lean into their model era. 

To get inspo for your shoot, Pinterest is always there. Your photographer’s blogs and galleries will provide specific examples of outfits and locations, so you can plan ahead.

(Most engagements are scheduled 2-3 months in advance, so you have time.) 

It is also a good idea to have your partner look through a few engagement blog posts to give them an idea of what to expect, that way everyone can have fun, be comfortable, and look their best! 


I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer Helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.

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