Get magazine-quality engagement photos without sacrificing your personal style.
By Lauren Golt
The key to great engagement photos isn’t just the location or the lighting—it’s also about what you wear. Why? Because what you wear sets the mood for the shoot and showcases your personal style. Sure, you and your fiancé are going to look amazing on the big day, but wedding gowns and tuxedos aren’t always the most comfortable and they’re not exactly part of your everyday repertoire. Here’s your chance to be y-o-u.
No matter your style, heed the advice from these six area photographers for getting magazine-quality engagement photos.
Favorite locations: Hope Lodge in Ft. Washington, Pa.; Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia; Valley Green Inn and Forbidden Drive in Philadelphia; Old City in Philadelphia; Valley Forge National Park in King of Prussia; Ridley Creek State Park in Media, Pa.; downtown West Chester, Pa.
Style tips: “Dress for the venue. If we are going for a hike in the woods, or walking along the Wissahickon, your vintage dress and Louboutins may be inappropriate. Not only does it seem a little out of place, but you’re going to have a heck of a time getting to the cool spots to pose. Now, if we are going downtown to hit Broad Street and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, do it up! I think an urban environment is the perfect place to pull out all the stops. Coordinate with your partner, but don’t match. One of my biggest pet peeves is when a bride has really dolled herself up, but her fiancé shows up in saggy jeans and sneakers. It looks like his heart isn’t in it, and hers is. If your guy is reluctant, help him pick out what to wear.”
Favorite locations: Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa.; Old City in Philadelphia; Cape May, N.J.; the University of Delaware campus; the streets of Chesapeake City, Md.; Augustine Beach, Del.; Prime Hook in Milton, Del.; Turkey Point overlooking the Chesapeake Bay.
Style tips: “I’ve found that for engagement shoots, a lot of couples don’t actually discuss with each other what they plan to wear. Sometimes their outfits can really clash. Discussing the attire beforehand is a proactive way to ease the nerves. I’ve had to Photoshop out wrinkles and even tags on brand-new clothes. Solid colors always work best, especially when they aren’t extremely bright. Patterns can work really nicely to create shape and accents, but if you’re worried about your weight or shape, you will want to avoid them—especially plaid. I can get away with some things during the editing process but editing shape that involves a complex grid pattern like plaid can be very difficult. Above all, I tell couples to be comfortable. If you wear something that isn’t ‘you,’ you may end up out-of-sync and require a little more time to settle-in.”
Favorite locations: The Quiet Resorts of Bethany Beach, Del.; The barn at the Covered Bridge Inn in Lewes; Gordon’s Pond Trail in Rehoboth Beach, Del.; Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Del.
Style tips: “I always send my couples a helpful style guide with color palette suggestions for either the winter and fall or spring and summer seasons depending on when we plan to meet. It’s the one thing besides location suggestions that is requested most. Knowing what to wear can be a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. Your engagement session will be just one of the many times that you will be coordinating your outfits for special events with your partner. Start by selecting a color palette of at least three colors—four is ideal especially if you have a fun dress or an accessory with a pop of color. Next, make sure that your outfits have a similar level of formality and complement the location you choose. Be sure to feel confident and comfortable in the clothes you choose. Wear them a handful of times before your session and break them in. Once you feel relaxed in your attire, then you can focus on the connection between the two of you—that’s where the magic really is.”
Favorite locations: Covered Bridge Inn in Lewes, Del.; Abbots Mill in Milford, Del.; Trap Pond State Park in Laurel, Del.
Style tips: “When it comes to choosing outfits for an engagement session, many think they have to go out and buy brand new clothes. But in all reality, you should be able to pick your outfits straight from your existing wardrobe because they should be the clothes you feel the most comfortable in. Also, keep in mind the season in which your session is taking place. If your portraits are scheduled for the warmer months, don’t be afraid of bold prints and bright colors. Fun rompers and sandals for her paired with printed shorts and a breezy shirt for him can give off a fun and flirty vibe to your photos. If your session is during the colder months, bundle up with darker tones and multiple layers to add dimension. A fleece, dark jeans and a warm hat for him, and boots, leggings and layered shirts for her all look great for those colder dates and help keep you warm throughout the session as well.”
Favorite locations: Urban parks such as Washington Square Park or Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia; Rural parks such as Norristown Farm Park in Norristown, Pa., and Valley Forge National Park.
Style tips: “I love it when my clients gravitate toward dresses. Whether it’s a fancy, elegant and colorful dress or an organic flowing chiffon dress—it will photograph like perfection. Layering for men is a great way to add dimension and comfort, especially in the colder autumn months. Adding accessories to an outfit can take the look to the next level. For example, adding a unique pair of shoes, bold chandelier earrings, or getting your nails done can add that pop of color or sophistication. Details—such as getting your makeup professionally done—can really make a woman feel more confident and beautiful for the duration of the shoot. It could be a wonderful way to experiment for the wedding and just get pampered for the day.”
Favorite locations: Marian Coffin Gardens at Gibraltar in Wilmington, Del.; Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa.; Terrain in Glen Mills, Pa.
Style tips: “Choose colors that are complementary or have the same tones. If one of you is wearing a light color, make sure the other is wearing a similar tone (not too dark or too light in comparison to the other person). For example, don’t wear a black jacket if your fiancé is wearing a white shirt. Also, having your makeup done is a great way to have a trial run with your makeup artist before the wedding. I would have them tone it down a bit from the actual wedding makeup, but it will help you get an idea of the style of makeup your artist can provide.”