Are you a couple who has never gotten pictures taken professionally? Not sure what time it would be best to do an engagement photo session? Not sure what to wear to an engagement photo shoot? This guide will relieve some of the pre-photo-shoot stress. 

What Should I Wear to an Engagement Photo Shoot Session?

Dress casual or formal, it is up to you. I recommend my couples to wear something that is both casual and fashionable, so that it is flattering and also easy for you to move around. 

Stand Out from the Distracting Background

As photographers, we aim to create a contrast between the subject and the background, thus making the subject “pop” instead of blending in with the background. Therefore, if the setting you chose is a park with lots of greenery, you will want to wear solid colors so you stand out from the background. Try to avoid plaids, florals, patterns. Some couples color-coordinate their outfits to the point of looking a bit matchy, but that is totally fine! If you are not sure of what color scheme to use, try talking to your planner, photographer, and makeup artist.

Outfit Tips For Women

First, the outfit should match your personality. You would want to feel glamorous, fabulous, and extra, and YOU. So it is important to choose something you know will fit your taste and style. You can pick up a cocktail dress or a dress that is a bit more formal than your usual daytime wear, which still suits your tastes and personality. Heels never fail to make women feel taller, leaner, and have killer legs. If you are not used to wearing heels, be sure to prepare comfy shoes in your bag so you can change back into them when you need to walk around between shots. Secondly, the outfits should match the setting. For example, if you are shooting in front of the lincoln memorial, you might want to consider wearing something more classy and formal, instead of something too sporty and streetwear.

Outfit Tips For Men

Most engagement photographers find that men look their best in suits or designer casual clothes. Also, avoid plaids and patterns as it might not help with distinguishing you and the background. A solid color sweater and fitted pants with a pair of polished shoes will go a long way. If you have doubts, Instagram is always useful when it comes to #menswear. 


You would want to bring your engagement ring. You could consider bringing your earrings and necklaces, but keep your jewelry ultrasimple to avoid flashy distractions in your pics. For men, that means any flashy watch, rings, and sunglasses may not look good in the pictures. Unless you are going for a different vibe, then by all means. 


Many of my bride-to-be’s decide to get their nails, hair, and makeup done the day before our shoot. A tidy, elegant hairstyle usually looks good with a background like Kennedy Center and Lincoln Memorial. Foundation, eye makeup and blush are good choices for ladies, so consider getting your makeup professionally done before the shoot. For gentlemen, consider getting hair groomed and styled before the shoot.

When Should the Photo Shoot Take Place?

The timing of the shoot is very important. If you choose to take pictures at noon, phew, your photographer is going to have a hard time finding shade, unless they use an off-camera flash or a light diffuser, which I have both but I prefer to shoot under natural light. The sunlight at 12 o’clock is very harsh and it is something that every photographer wants to avoid as long as their schedule permits it. Not only the harsh light is unflattering to the faces, the people being photographed often have a hard time opening their eyes. Tell your photographer that you want to be photographed during golden hour, and they will say aw yeah. The golden hour is usually during sunrise and before sunset, typically before 7am and after 6pm. 

Elaine Li Photography

DC, MD, VA based portrait / engagement / Local & Destination Weddings Photographer