What to wear for engagement photos to help create memories you'll cherish forever

Not sure what to wear for engagement photos? Allow us to guide you towards a look that ticks boxes for style, romance and comfort.

What to wear for engagement photos
(Image credit: Getty)

There’s an understandable pressure that comes with deciding what to wear for engagement photos. Images you'll treasure forever, there's a lot of thought that goes into the perfect look.

When it comes to bridal style, there are certain traditions and conventions that most brides adhere to for the big day, whether its the best bridal shoes or stylish rehearsal dinner dresses. However, when it comes to what to wear for engagement photos, the same sartorial rules need not apply. 

While your wedding day photos are likely to be much more formal, for engagement photos, you have the opportunity to create beautiful images that are more relaxed and a little more 'you'. There might also be the opportunity for outfit changes, so plan in advance with your photographer how many looks and the vibe you would like to get from the day and then you can start planning accordingly.

What to wear for engagement photos according to a style expert

If the idea of engagement photos is new to you, it's essentially a pre-wedding shoot. Many couples use the imagery for 'Save the Date' cards or for other pieces of wedding stationery. They're  a great way of banishing pre-wedding jitters if you're nervous about being in front of the camera. 

“Couples who book engagement shoots with me tend to either not enjoy being photographed or are feeling very anxious about the part of their wedding day that involves portraits,” explains professional wedding photographer Charlotte Kitchenside of Three Flowers Photography. “They want to know exactly what to expect on the big day and have a lovely gallery of photos to keep.”

Before deciding what to wear for engagement photos, you need to establish the location and how the weather will impact this.

“Where I shoot depends a lot on the couple but often they’ll ask me for recommendations,” says Charlotte. “I suggest favorite walks, perhaps the proposal location or any places that are meaningful to them. For more nervous couples, I’d suggest a country park or a river walk where we’re not too in view of the public - I find I tend to shoot more engagement sessions in rural locations because of this factor.” Once you know the location for your engagement photos and the time of year, you can start putting an outfit together. 

1. What to wear for engagement photos in the city

What to wear for engagement photos city

(Image credit: Getty)

What you need…

  • Leather jacket
  • Printed midi skirt
  • Trainers 

As engagement photos tend to be very whimsical, shooting with the backdrop of a busy city really adds an edge. “(In London), Shoreditch is quite popular, as it’s super vibrant with lots of cool graffiti to use as backdrops” says Charlotte. If you need to stand out against the grey of the sidewalks, look to bright color clothes to ensure you're the center of attention. It could be as simple as a patterned skirt or a bold handbag. Shrug off any workwear associations by shunning tailoring in favor of laid-back silhouettes complete with a pair of the best white trainers

A styling tip… For fall outfit ideas for this theme, look at robing your best leather jacket over your shoulders for a stylish, but weather-appropriate look.

Fashion editor’s picks…

2. What to wear for engagement photos for casual

What to wear for engagement photos casual

(Image credit: Getty)

What you need…

  • A slogan sweatshirt 
  • Light wash jeans 
  • Sleek trainers 

Not into formal wear? If you feel most comfortable in your best leggings or jeans, and a t-shirt or sweatshirt then that's the side of your personality you should let shine. Smart casual outfit ideas are great for ensuring you'll feel at ease at your engagement shoot, which in the long run will make for better photos. From nailing how to style baggy jeans, for a directional feel or adding extra polish by learning how to style flared jeans, choose the silhouette that's right for you.

With an almost sports luxe finish, team laidback denim with loose-fitting, oversized tops. You can always go for a French tuck (tucked at the front only) to avoid overwhelming your frame. As for footwear, opt for comfortable flats. A ballet pump will feel a little dressier, while a box-fresh white trainer will look crisp and cool. 

A styling tip… The fashion trends 2023 are once again championing sports luxe as a key look and slogan tops will remain key to this trend. A great way to make a statement, look for designs that reflect the mood of the shoot eg. 'Love' or a place you’ve traveled to together.

Fashion editor’s picks…

3. What to wear for engagement photos At the beach

What to wear for engagement photos at the beach

(Image credit: Getty)

What you need…

  • Floaty summer dress 
  • Straw bag 
  • Gold jewelry 

The image of strolling hand-in-hand along the beach is the very picture of romance, so what better place to capture your engagement photos than by the ocean? Lean into the theme by dressing in lightweight clothing, these pictures will work particularly well if you plan to use them for stationery for a summer nuptials too. 

For the ideal beach-ready look, opt for the best summer dresses preferably with fuller skirts, to allow for gentle movement in the breeze, which will translate beautifully in the pictures. The background of the sea is pretty neutral, so you can choose any color you like. Top with a linen shirt or cropped, chunky knit jumper for an extra layer, leaning on the Coastal Grandmother trend for inspiration if needed. Going barefoot will bring a bohemian feel to the photos, so embrace the sandy toes, as this enhances the happy and carefree feel of beach engagement pictures. 

A styling tip… A floral headband or floppy hat might feel like the perfect beach accessory, but make sure you get some photos without one too. Make sure to take the photos without the hat first, in case the headpiece flattens your hair. 

Fashion editor’s picks…

4. What to wear for engagement photos outdoors

What to wear for engagement photos outdoors

(Image credit: Getty)

What you need…

  • Padded jacket
  • Leggings 
  • Chunky boots 

When it comes to what to wear for engagement photos in the great outdoors, make sure to look the part and dress appropriately. Use the Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, as your style inspiration for this look and think padded coats, wax Barbour-style jackets, form-fitting leggings or trousers, and knee-high boots. The contrast of the layered top half with the form-fitting bottom half will make your legs look longer too. A great ensemble for an outdoorsy couple, it will help to bring your passion into the pictures too. Khaki greens, black and beige are the shades to gravitate towards here, and if you do want to add a print into the mix, make it check or plaid. 

A styling tip… Invest in a pair of this season’s chunky, track-soled boots, such as the best Chelsea boots with a lug sole for a nod to the fall winter shoe trends 2022.

Fashion editor’s picks…

5. What to wear for engagement photos in the fall

What to wear for engagement photos in the fall

(Image credit: Getty)

What you need…

  • Jumper dress
  • Heeled boots 
  • Printed scarf 

The change in nature’s colors makes fall a gorgeous time to capture your engagement photos. Take your cues for what to wear for engagement photos in the fall from your surroundings and choose a neutral palette of brown and beige topped with accents of burnt orange, russet red, and deep burgundy. 

The weather can be hit-and-miss in fall, so layers are a smart choice. Think a short-sleeve dress with long winter boots or a crisp white shirt, chinos, and a pump or loafer. You might want to bring your best sunglasses too, as those crisp fall mornings and hazy evenings (some of the best times for photos is golden hour) can be surprisingly sunny. 

A styling tip… Mixing both tones and textures in your outfit will create a premium feel. Look to fall/winter fabrics such as wool, faux fur and leather for a luxe mix.

Fashion editor’s picks…

6. What to wear for engagement photos in the winter

What to wear for engagement photos in winter

(Image credit: Getty)

What you need…

  • Cozy coat 
  • Simple dress
  • Ankle boots 

Although the summer is often billed as 'wedding season', with warmer months the most popular for couples to exchange vows, we do love a winter wedding, which means we're big fans of a winter engagement photoshoot too. Take advantage of the colder weather by wrapping up in cozy winter coats and luxe, tactile layers. Faux fur, teddy bear fabrics, and boucle are top picks for texture and warmth, adding depth to photos instantly. Keep it classic with neutral tones of black, beige, and cream, and add a pop of color with the help of contrasting detailing or a statement accessory. The closer you book your engagement photoshoot to the holiday season, the prettier towns and cities will look and you can take advantage of the festive atmosphere too. 

A styling tip… If you're worried about layers swamping your figure, look for high quality, tailored coats to ensure you're warm enough without losing your shape. 

Fashion editor’s picks…

7. What to wear for engagement photos in the spring

What to wear for engagement photos in spring

(Image credit: Getty)

What you need…

  • Romantic blouse
  • Tailored pants
  • Statement sunglasses 

Spring is the season with the most sartorial promise, as we shake off our winter layers and swap them for something lighter and brighter. It’s the perfect time to wear sugary pastel shades like lemon yellow, dainty blues, and powdery pinks. You might even want to wear a hue similar to the one you're planning on for the best bridesmaid dresses to continue the theme across your photography. 

A high-low feel of mixing feminine pieces with sharp tailoring will make for a chic outfit. Team a pair of tailored pants with a floaty, romantic blouse - complete with detailing such as an oversized collar, flowing sleeves, or frilled cuffs. Or, pair a floral midi dress with a tailored blazer. 

A styling tip… If you’re opting for a scoop or V-neckline, make the most of the extra skin on show by layering necklaces. 

Fashion editor’s picks…

8. In the summer

What to wear for engagement photos in summer

(Image credit: Getty)

What you need…

  • Summer dress
  • Slider sandals
  • Crossbody bag

The arrival of summer means really embracing color. You’ll most likely be wearing white (or similar) on your wedding day, so now’s the time to really experiment with different hues - the brighter the better. Sunset-inspired shades are perfect for the time of year and the occasion, so let a palette of pinks, reds, oranges, and yellows be your starting point. Puff sleeves and square or sweetheart necklines remain popular this season, with asymmetric necklines making a comeback too. A high pie-crust neck or shirt dress are failsafe choices that won’t date, just add slip-on sandals, trainers, or strappy heels to finish the look.  

A styling tip… Keep your accessories in the same tones as your dress to avoid stealing focus in the photos. 

Fashion editor’s picks…

What are the best colors to wear for engagement photos?

“Some consideration should be given to your shoot location in regards to outfit colors,” says Charlotte. “If you’re headed to the beach, wear lighter colors, and shoes that you can easily take off to walk in the sand or along the water in. You could also consider the season and try and coordinate with the colors you might come across in nature. Pastels or creams for blossom trees in spring if you’re in a park and reds, oranges, and browns in the fall. I find that bold colors look good against darker greens, so if you’re in the woods for your engagement shoot, you’ll really pop against the backdrop.” If you’re planning to use the photographs as part of your wedding (such as on the invites or favors) then it's also a good idea to make sure your outfits coordinate (or at least don’t clash) with your color scheme. 

What should couples wear for engagement photos?

Putting together one outfit is hard enough, without having to think about your partner’s outfit too. Ideally, you want them to feel in synergy with each other, without looking too matchy-matchy or forced - as you don't want to look like '90s pop band. But equally, it’s going to look pretty mismatched if one of you is clad in black tie or the best cocktail dresses while the other is rocking their favorite jeans and trainers combination. Try to coordinate colors or at least choose complementary hues to ensure your looks gel. You could also both opt for a neutral or monochrome palette with a splash of the same color or similar tones and certainly not clash. For example, if you’re wearing pale blue, and your partner is in navy, that will work really well.

“Don’t feel like you have to go over the top or buy something new,” advises Zoë Burke, Wedding Expert, and Editor at Hitched.co.uk (opens in new tab). “You want these pictures to represent you as a couple and feel timeless. Depending on the location you choose and the time you have with your photographer, you could always pack an outfit change or two so you have options.”

“It’s worth considering what you’ll use these photos for too,” continues Zoë. “If they’re going on an invitation or being used in any wedding signage, then you might want to include a more wedding-y outfit in the mix.”

Do you have to wear a dress for engagement photos?

The question of whether you have to wear a dress for engagement photos is a big, responding, say-it-louder-for-the-people-at-the-back “no!”. Just as some brides might feel more comfortable in a tailored two-piece or a flattering jumpsuit than a frothy frock on their wedding day, there is no pressure to slip into a frock for your engagement photos either. Dress according to your personal style, not any preconceived ideas of what’s expected. If you are opting for a dress, just keep the hemline in mind, as a mini dress can quickly become a hindrance if you’re posing sitting down or shooting on a windy day. A midi dress is often a good compromise, teaming fashion with functionality. 

What not to wear for engagement photos

Like a rogue relative that’s snaffled one too many free drinks at a wedding reception, there are some outfits to steer clear of for your engagement photos. But it’s not as simple as sharing advice like “don’t wear black” or “avoid hats”, as it’s ultimately down to what makes you feel most comfortable. Everyone is different, and what makes one person feel another might leave another tense and awkward (which, frustratingly, will be reflected in the photos). “I wouldn’t rule anything out, but I would say be sure to pick clothes you feel comfortable and confident in,” advises Zoë. “If that’s glamorous formalwear, go for it! If it’s your favorite shorts and a nice top combo, then wear that. Your engagement photos are meant to be natural and represent this happy time in your relationship, so if you’re all trussed up in something you wouldn’t normally wear then you might not get that vibe!”

“Wearing an outfit you feel good in will take a big part of the worry away so you can concentrate on being directed by the photographer and having a great time with your partner,” adds Charlotte.

Jess Beech is an experienced fashion and beauty editor, with more than eight years experience in the publishing industry. She has written for woman&home, GoodtoKnow, Now, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own and Chat, and is a former Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor at Future PLC. A beauty obsessive, Jess has tried everything from cryotherapy to chemical peels (minus the Samantha in Sex and The City-worthy redness) and interviewed experts including Jo Malone and Trinny Woodall.