What to Wear for Your Engagement or Couple Photos

what to wear in your engagement photos

The #1 question I get asked after someone books with me: “Any suggestions on what to wear?”

So, I decided it was time to make a guide for any and everyone out there, even if you’re not doing the photoshoot with me; I want this to take away the stress people have when planning for their session! If you’ve ever worried about what the hell to wear to a photoshoot, this is for you! I’m going to give you a few key points, both personal and fashion related, and also give photo examples!

1) Don’t wear something that you would never wear in real life. Sure, this is your perfect excuse to wear that fancier piece in your closet or maybe splurge for that dress that you’ve been eyeing online but didn’t have anywhere to wear it to, but don’t buy something that isn’t your style, just because it’s trendy or you’ve seen other people wearing something similar! Which leads me to my next point…

2) Wear something that makes you feel comfortable and confident! What’s that “go-to” outfit you have when you want to feel cute, but also comfy? WEAR THAT. I don’t care if it’s not the fanciest, trendiest get up; if you feel like yourself in it, that will show in your photos! You want these to be candid, right? So wear candid clothes too! If that makes sense…hahahaha. Most couples wear one casual and one dressier outfit, so for the dressier one, pick something that makes you feel HOT. Look good, feel good, right? Never underestimate the power of a good outfit for your mood.

3) Don’t wear anything too restricting. Now I know, some fancier outfits are inevitably restricting in a sense, but still, you need to be able to move around naturally. Again, candid photos, which means candid movement. I urge people not to wear things that are strapless – do you really want to be more focused on pulling up your dress than enjoying your session? Wear jeans you can bend and run in, shoes you can walk in, a dress that you can lift your arms in, a dress shirt that you can pick your girl up in, a suit jacket that you won’t rip because it’s so fitting, etc etc…

Okay Hayley, I get it, but now what about the actual fashion part of this? Yup, I hear you, I gotchu!

A really good thing to remember when picking your outfits, is that you want them to complement your pictures, not steal the show. Most likely, we will be in a beautiful outdoor setting, so you don’t want a flashy outfit to take away from that! Even more so, you don’t want the outfit to distract from the most important thing: YOU! That’s why you’re taking these photos right? To capture the love between you and your partner? I hope so. Alright, onto the list…

1) Avoid bright colors.
I’m not saying you can’t wear color, but try to avoid neon or super saturated colors. Why? BECAUSE THEY’RE DISTRACTING. But also, the color can sometimes cast a super weird glare or glow in photos and mess with your skin tone! Instead, aim for more muted or more specifically earth tones. Again, we’re probably in and outdoor setting if you’re with me, so wear tones that go with that same theme! When in doubt, neutral it out. That was lame but whatever. If you’re struggling with color, go with white, cream, gray, or black, you hardly fail with those!

2) Don’t wear the same color as your location. Now I know, I just told you to wear earth tones when shooting outside, but let me explain. Like I said, aim to complement. If you’re at a body of water, try to avoid dark blue clothing that blends in. Instead maybe opt for a light blue shirt for your guy maybe. For girls, pink is a beautiful partner for blue – sky or ocean! Another example, if you’re taking pictures in a dark green forest, don’t wear green. For the love of whatever you praise, don’t wear green. Also probably don’t wear black if it’s a dark forest, you don’t want to blend in! Again with that word: complement!

3) Avoid busy patterns and loud prints. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear prints, but make sure they aren’t too obnoxious! If you want to wear florals, aim for a smaller floral pattern rather than large. Or if you want to wear stripes, try for thinner, more pinstripe styled, rather than large, thick stripes. This isn’t the time to wear that super abstract, attention grabbing pattern. Right now, I’m thinking of Winston from New Girl. You know how he loves his bird shirts and ones with colorful patterns? Yeah, don’t wear those to a session.

4) Don’t be too matchy matchy! While you want to look good with your partner, don’t worry about it being perfect! Try to make yourselves look like you’re going to the same place with the same vibe, but don’t stress about it much. Now, if your partner is wearing orange, don’t wear orange too, and if they’re wearing red, maybe don’t wear green. Keep patterns in mind here too. If you’re wearing a floral dress, have your dude wear a plain shirt. Or vice-versa – if he wants to wear a stripe shirt, try opting for a solid dress. Alternatively, you could balance out the patterns on top and bottom. If you’re wearing a patterned skirt, your dude could probably get away with a patterned shirt! In sum, as long as you stand next to each other in your outfits and don’t look like you’re from different planets, you’re good bro.

Let’s see some examples…

If you’re a visual learner like me, or simply just want to be able to look at a photo and replicate an outfit, scroll through these photos from sessions I’ve done with awesome outfit examples!


what to wear for engagement photos in spring

This is a PRIME example of what I mentioned with water earlier! Bailey is wearing pink, which looks so pretty against the blue. Notice that this is a great example of incorporating a fun color, but in the right way: it’s a muted, pastel pink, not a hot or bright print! Justin is wearing a simple white shirt that will match anything, and darker blue pants that don’t blend in with the blue of the sky or water! Bailey’s pink dress even matched the pink hint in the sunset, but that was just pure luck 🙂 . I also want to point out that Bailey’s dress may look fancy, but she could still run, jump, and spin in it; and even though Justin had on a dress shirt, it was one he could pick her up in without ripping.

what to wear for engagement photos in summer

Both partners wearing patterns? Whaaaa?! Remember, I said smaller patterns, nothing big and obnoxious, and balance them out? Brooke + Seth nailed that! Brooke’s pants are adorable, but the colors of the stripes and the width are enough to be cute, but not loud! Seth has a small pattern on his blue shirt as well. *hint: when in doubt, put the man in navy!* They’re both in patterns and colors that aren’t bright, which is perfect with all of the green green grass already around them!

what to wear for engagement photos in fall
what to wear in an engagement photo shoot

These are both great examples of letting the background do the talking! Amanda & Brady (top) and Carly & Adam (bottom) both picked incredible scenic and colorful locations. If they would have worn a ton of color, it would have been wayyyyy too much and also taken away from the setting that they so intentionally picked! Amanda & Carly both wore white dresses, and while they are still beautiful, attractive, fashionable, and look great with the setting, they don’t take away from it! Notice Brady is dressed up all fancy too in his suit, but in a neutral gray that also is not distracting!

what color to wear in engagement photos

I love this example because it shows that you CAN wear a showstopping outfit with patterns and colors, but it still not take away from your photos! Annie wore a fucking gorgeous free people dress covered in a floral print, but it worked because the colors were earthy: burnt orange, deep red, tan, light pink, and the background of the dress was black. They balanced it out by having Michael wear a super simple outfit: black jeans and a gray tee. It still matched Annie, but brought simplicity into their photos to balance out her busyness!

what to wear in fall engagement photos

These two are a perfect example of earth tones! Their photos were outfit in the mountains, and they picked colors that coordinated so well. Erin’s burnt orange shirt compliments the greenery really well, and the golden color of the grass. Obviously her blue jean jacket and pants, and Adam’s white tee act as a great neutrals! She threw on a neutral brown hat to add another fun element.


That was a lot of information! But I really tried to think back to every single outfit related question I’ve ever been asked, and throw them allllll together in this post! I know fashion isn’t the easiest thing for a lot of people, so I hope this took a lot of the stress away! If all else fails and you dunno what to put your guy in, a plain t-shirt and nice jeans will do just fine, TRUST ME. Okay, now I have a few last final words:

Wear what you feel like yourself in. Wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident. Express YOURSELF. Complement your surroundings.

Okay, now go plan those outfits!!!

If you want additional inspiration: go browse my sessions on the blog, or view my pinterest outfit inspo board!

hayley gaertner

adventurous wedding and elopement photographer based out of colorado.