Spring is finally here, which means the grass is turning green, the trees are budding, birds are chirping, and of course, engagement sessions! I absolutely love shooting engagement, anniversary, and couple's sessions with my adventurous couples. It's so fun to explore, hang out, get to know each other and enjoy nature without the added pressure of a timeline on a wedding day!
Since these sessions aren't appointments that we regularly schedule, I know it can sometimes feel awkward to be in front of the lens (I still am). That's what I'm here for- to guide you and help make your session a comfortable and fun experience for both you and your fiancé/significant other! One of the best ways to feel more comfortable at the session is to plan out what you'll be wearing.
Of course, most of the photos you see below are from engagement sessions, but I wanted to note that it translates to anniversary or couple's sessions as well! Any portrait session where there are two of you to coordinate/prepare!
The most important thing to think about when choosing your engagement outfits is comfort! If you and your fiancé/significant other don't feel comfortable in the clothes you're wearing, it may show in the photos. I love it when couples relax through the poses and into each other, almost as if they're not even at a session and are just doing what they love together and enjoying each other's company. If you're wearing a shirt that you don't like or shoes that are uncomfortable, it may show through your expressions and body language. Also, keep in mind that while some articles of clothing may be comfortable to some couples, they may not be comfortable to all couples! Some women find dresses to be a super easy piece to wear, where some women may hate dresses and prefer jeans and boots!
Shoes are a big factor when it comes to comfort. Not only do your feet need to feel comfortable and not hurt at the session, but they also need to be practical for the location. Obviously, heels are not the best choice if we're planning on hiking up a mountain to some soft grassy balds. We can, however, throw them in a backpack and take them up the trail with us and then have you put them on whenever we stop to shoot. Boots, boat shoes, flats, and sandals seem to be the most popular pick among couples. Not only do the feel great, but they're perfect for traversing all types of land- mountains, trails, rocky areas, water, sand, etc. As you guys know, Chacos are my own shoe of choice for sessions (weather permitting)!
Colors & Patterns
Now, I will put a disclaimer here: I am not a fashionista by any means! Fashion, make-up and today's trends are not my thing, so everything here is from personal experience and what I've noticed works well with my couples!
Whenever I get any questions from my couples regarding what to wear to their session, it most of the time is about what colors and patterns they should look into (or not wear). I think a lot of couples tend to overthink patterns and often shy away from them, but I definitely think they can be a gorgeous choice!
One of my personal favorite patterns is the plaid/flannel + solid coordinating color combo (Lyndsey and Josh did it perfectly above). There is just something so classic about it and it goes so well with outdoors locations and adventures! Floral pattern dresses are also a really gorgeous option when paired with a solid coordinating color! Michelle wore a beautiful mustard floral maxi dress and paired Johnny in a solid gray, button down for their session.
If you're not a fan of patterns, solid colors are always a 'solid' way to go (yeah, I went there)! I, personally, am a lover of neutral and muted colors. Navy, burgundy, gray, tan, and even white are all gorgeous colors that go so well with nature's color palette. I love that Ryan and Sara (as seen below) went with soft, solid, colors- white and cornflower blue. It really added to the summery, lake, feel to their session!
The only colors that I ask couples to stray from are bright highlighter colors, and that's simply because the digital camera sensors have a hard time processing the actual color. In the photo to the right of the hot pink flowers, you'll see that with its color (and the harsh sunlight) that the camera had a tough time reading it. But that's to the extreme side of the color spectrum. Everything else is fair game!
It's also best to try not to be exactly, "matchy matchy." I'm talking about both of you wearing white shirts and khakis (kind of like those beach portraits you see families taking). It's great to have variety between the two of you! If you're wearing the exact same thing, it's possible you two will blend together in the poses.
Prepare for Weather & Exploring
I'll never forget when I met up with Alexis and John Michael for their engagement session at Grayson Highlands in Virginia. I always look at the weather forecast a few days before a session and try to plan accordingly. I believe there was a high wind warning, so I knew there would be a chance that we couldn't make it to the huge rocks that Grayson is known for.
Alexis and John Michael had traveled from Georgia to Tennessee for the weekend, specifically for their session, so I knew there was no way we could re-schedule! We had to roll with the weather we were given! John Michael just happened to grab his grandfather's blue jacket as they were running out of the door and by luck it completely matched Alexis' blue peacoat! Some people don't prefer the look of almost matching colors, but I think it really worked for this adventurous pair and popped them off of the foggy backdrop! Plus, they were nice and toasty and had no problem hanging out in the blustery cold!
What's an adventurous session without a little exploring? As most of my couples know, I LOVE going off the beaten path. Some of the best features in nature are found when you go "off-roading" and find them yourself. It's great to have this in mind when preparing for your session! Amanda and Kenny were champs and didn't even hesitate when I asked them if they would mind to take off their shoes and socks, roll up their jeans, and walk through a creek! Of course, safety is one of my top priorities at sessions, so if something looks a little on the edgy side or if you'd rather not walk through the creek, just tell me and we'll head to the next spot! I am also a follower of "Leave-No-Trace" principles and try to leave places exactly as we found them.
Don't Forget the Ring!
Accessories are a great addition to complete any outfit, but my favorite is your engagement (or wedding) ring! I love taking detail shots of your ring at the session, using something found in the area, like a stump, wood, flowers, leaves, or even pine tree limbs if possible.
It's not required, but if you'd like your ring to sparkle to the max for photos, try and get your ring cleaned the day before the session! They will clean off any finger prints or soap residue and will make your ring ready for my macro lens!
Most Importantly... BE YOU.
Overall, your engagement, anniversary or couple's session is all about the two of you and celebrating this time in your lives! No matter what, the photos should reflect each of your personalities and therefore, you should rock what you're comfortable in! Wear your favorite sweater and pair of jeans, or wear that pair of boots that you wear daily and feel like a badass in! Wear the necklaces or bracelets that you received from your significant other! Be your beautiful, genuine, self and have fun!