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The Benefits of an Engagement Session, + Tips on What to Wear

Clare & Chris | New York City

Engagement sessions are such a great opportunity for everybody involved, and that’s why I include them in many of my wedding photography collections. There’s the most obvious benefit: really great photos of the two of you. For many couples, their engagement session is the first time they’ve been photographed professionally together. And, depending on the timing, engagement photos can be great for save-the-dates, holiday gifts, and even for display at the wedding.

There’s also a much more understated benefit, and that is the opportunity to break the ice with your photographer. On your wedding day, it is likely you’ll spend more time with your photographer than with any other individual. It truly is a relationship that should feel easy, and part of what happens during an engagement session is that the three of us get to spend time getting to know each other as people. It’s an important step in building your relationship with your photographer so that, on the day of your wedding, you feel comfortable and safe coming to me with a concern or issue. It’s also a way to warm up with the camera, so that on your wedding day, it’s easier to just be present.

So, once you’ve decided to do an engagement session, the next question that people often has is… how to optimize it?

Jade & Brian | Chicago, Illinois

Grooming may seem obvious, but it’s worth stating— it’s ideal for you both to have semi-fresh haircuts (a rule of thumb is to have your fresh haircut about a week before your session, so it’ looks fresh, but not too fresh). Groom facial hair. Ladies, you may want to get your nails done for the session. Some choose to get a professional blow-out or styling. Another great idea is, depending how far out from your wedding day you are, you may choose to do your makeup trial the day of your engagement session.

Brittany & Sophie | Chicago, Illinois

When it comes to clothes, the most important thing to consider is fit. Tailoring is for everybody. It’s easy to focus just on the ladies, but the difference that tailoring makes in the fit of anything a man is wearing is just as notable. Even a very basic suit will look super sharp if it’s well-tailored. (Once, at a wedding a fellow photographer was looking particularly chic. I asked him about his suit, and this urbane gentleman casually said, “H&M. I had it tailored.” Case closed. That said, for gentlemen’s wear, I’m particularly fond of Suitsupply.)

Choose clothing that you feel comfortable and confident in, that you feel flatters and enhances your favorite things about how you look. Feeling like the best version of yourself is the goal.

I don’t have hard and fast rules about solids vs. patterns or colors vs. neutrals, because I see wonderful results come from a variety of looks. I encourage you to not go too matchy, but more complimentary. For example, you can work in the same range of colors, like warm colors (pinks and oranges) or pastels (soft purple and soft blue), that sort of thing. Generally, only one of you should wear a pattern, unless they are complimentary patterns, like two different plaids.

Most couples choose to wear two sets of outfits— a more formal look, and a more casual look. It’s your call what that means to you, or if that’s even the formula you want to follow, but if you do, I recommend starting in the formal look.

Sara & Vivek | Chicago, Illinois

In advance of your session, decide on your undergarments (strapless bras, no-show underwear, etc.), shoes (and appropriate socks!), and accessories (jewelry, belts, hair pieces, etc.). It’s also great to shine shoes that need it.

When you’re trying things on, try sitting and walking in them and reach your arms over your head, just to get an idea of how you move in them. They don’t have to work perfectly in every position, but this will give you an idea of how they wear and also might give you an idea of what undergarments you need. It’s also a good idea to see how wrinkle-prone your clothes are. If you’re trying to decide between a couple of items and one of them is far less wrinkle-prone, I’d go with that piece.

The night before your session, I recommend steaming or ironing everything that needs it, and gathering everything you need in one place: outfits, undergarments, shoes, accessories, jewelry. And one final note— be prepared to potentially change clothes in a public bathroom or another makeshift situation, depending on our shoot locations!

If these tips were helpful, I welcome you to check out 10 Absolutely Free Ways to Make Your Wedding Day Unforgettable and why I love light colors for photos, plus my number one tip for a romantic and fun wedding day.

Aimee & Immy | Mount Dora, Florida

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