Engagement Session Styling Tips

It can be hard to settle on a style for your engagement photographs.  It’s a chance to say so much about yourselves, and can quickly get overwhelming, especially if you start looking through lots of other engagement photographs!  I’ve put together a small list of tips, tricks, questions to ask yourself, and things to avoid when planning your engagement session outfits.

How can your outfit compliment the location you’ve chosen?

Think about your outfits in relation to the location you’ve chosen for your engagement photographs.  This will quickly help pare down your options.  If we’re going hiking, maybe put those summer dresses back in the closet, if we’re at the cottage then suddenly a bathing suit sequence could be part of the shoot, and if we’re going out to your favourite wine bar for a night on the town, consider opting for something a bit more dressy than your daily jeans and white T-shirt combo.  

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 Dress like yourselves

Don’t try to put on a persona for your engagement photographs.  This is an opportunity to document who you are in your lives together at this point in time.  If you’re feeling cool and want to ride your motorcycle around the neighborhood for your shoot, let’s do that in your favorite worn in leather jackets.   If you’re outdoorsy and live in your Patagonia half zip, then let’s go hiking in Tobermory and wear those fleece tops!  If you love hats, wear a hat, if you never put on dresses then why squeeze into one for your shoot? Above all, you want to look back on these photographs, sigh contentedly, and say ‘hot dam those photos are so US’.

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 Be comfortable

I always say ‘don’t be fidgety and don’t be freezing’.  This is pretty self explanatory, if you don’t feel comfortable in your clothing, you won’t look comfortable in your photographs!  If we’re taking winter engagement photographs, steer clear of shorts and summer rompers, wear your favorite cashmere turtleneck and camel coat instead.  If you really want to wear that new top you just bought, but feel like you have to keep tucking your boobs back in, maybe save it for a night out and not your engagement photographs.  If you have to keep worrying and fidgeting with your outfit you will have a hard time getting into the flow and relaxed movement of an engagement session.

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Lean towards lighter colours

If you’ve chosen me to be your photographer because you like the light and bright style of my photographs, then style your engagement session to play this up.  Choose clothing that is lighter coloured, and more pastel in hue.  If you’re deciding between black jeans or light wash, go for the light wash.  If you’re deciding between your fave LBD or and organic flowing linen number you love, go for the linen.  My work is very organic, soft, and light coloured, and if you love this we should make sure to style your engagement session appropriately.  The exception to this is of course if you prefer wearing dark colours, anything works to photograph in the right environment! 

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 Book your hair and makeup trial

Sometimes people book their hair and makeup trial for the same date as their engagement photographs.  This is a great idea IF the hair and makeup style you choose compliments your outfit and activity (glam buns and lashes out to there will look out of place at the park with your dog).  If you’re booking your hair and makeup trial just to get to know your stylist more, then opt for a look that will compliment your engagement photographs instead of serving as practice for your wedding day.

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Things to avoid

While I never want to tell people what not to do (there are always exceptions to every rule!) here are a few things I’ve found are usually best to avoid when styling your engagement session outfits.  We want to actually be able to see your face in your engagement photographs, so avoid covering up with something like a ball cap.  Hats are okay, and can play perfectly into your style, just make sure we’ll be able to see you easily and without too much dark shadow over your eyes.  Avoid neon colours.  Again, this might play up your style, in which case go wild, however I generally find that really bright and neon colours reflect light up onto your face and create strange skin tones that are difficult to normalize.  If you don’t absolutely love it, steer clear of that pylon orange t-shirt.  Finally, I recommend avoiding extremely large and graphic logos.  They look distracting in portrait photography, and could say something or represent a brand that you’re not going to love so much years from now.  Unless you’re high up on the Levi’s food chain and want to rep that company, maybe opt for the simple white T instead. 

Danielle & Anthony: Record Shops, Coffee, and Tacos, a Collingwood Engagement

I get to photograph Danielle & Anthony’s wedding just outside of Toronto, in Kleinburg in just a few weeks, so I thought it was a fitting time to share photos from the amazing engagement session we shot together a year ago! These two have spent so much time together at their family cottage up around Collingwood that they wanted to plan an engagement session exploring the area and enjoying some of their favourite things together. 

            These two knocked their engagement session out of the park, and planned the perfect combination of activities to shake things up, add variety, and really enjoy their time together.  I always recommend that people plan engagement sessions like their ideal date day together (with me tagging along as third wheel), and let me tell you, these two have amazing date days together!

            We started out meeting at Mad Dog coffee in Collingwood, a coffee shop/old time rock and roll record and paraphernalia shop.  We sipped dark coffee while browsing their favourite records, admired old Pink Floyd posters that cover the walls, and chatted music shows.  Next up was lattes in the sun at one of Collingwood’s best coffee shops, the Espresso Post, followed by a delicious dinner of tacos and nachos at the most fun, stylish, and trendy spot in town, Bent Taco. 

            To finish up, as the sun was getting low in the sky we drove over the Sunset Point, a beautiful shale beach with crystal clear water where they enjoyed exploring the shore line together, and dipping their toes in the cool Georgian Bay water.  Whether you’re taking engagement photographs or not, I recommend your next trip to Collingwood follow the same plan as these two, like I said, they nailed it.  

Annie & Colin's at Home Engagement in The Beaches

I met Annie and Colin for a sunrise engagement session at their home in my favourite neighbourhood of Toronto, the Beaches.  We settled down at their kitchen table to enjoy a cup of coffee together to wake up and start out shoot on the right foot.  I was immediately smitten with them both.  Their home is filled with music and instruments, displaying Colin’s profession, and decorated with all things retro, folky, and funny, true to Annie’s unique style.  They have a large painted portrait of The Dude over their fireplace, next to a piano, across from a mid century modern sofa, where they sat sipping a second cup of coffee from some of Annie’s antique mugs.  I adore these guys.

            As the sun rose higher we headed out the front door for a short walk to the beach where we strolled the shoreline together, skipped stones, and sat on the breakwater soaking up the early morning sun.  Sunrise engagement sessions are always the best start to the day, and getting to work with these two made it even better.  Looking at them you can just tell that they are one another’s person, they just fit, and I absolutely can’t wait to share photographs from their beautiful, musical wedding on the waterfront later this past summer. 

xo
-c

An Adventurous Engagement Session in the Canadian Rocky Mountains

I was SO excited to plan this shoot as soon as I found out that Megan and Kyle lived close to the mountains out west.  I love getting out to hike in the Rockies, and was stoked that these two were game to plan an adventurous engagement session and climb up a mountain with me!  Megan and Kyle, you guys really made one of my dreams come true!

These two sweeties picked me up at the Calgary Airport, and we immediately set off towards the mountains in the distance.  We were headed for Canmore, to climb up to an alpine lake hidden among the peaks in Kannanaskis country.  Our final destination had sparkling clear alpine water, craggy wintery peaks towering even higher above us, and a beautiful scenic climb leading us up to the lake.

One of my favourite parts of shooting engagement sessions is the chance to spend some time with each couple, getting to know them, who they are together, and chatting about any and all non-wedding related life.  The drive out together was the perfect opportunity to get to know one another, and we made some extra time to stop for a warm meal together before bundling up and starting our long hike upwards. 

We reached the lake after the sun had ducked below the peaks, and had the place absolutely to ourselves after other hikers had already started their descent down, racing the sun.   It was perfectly still all around us aside, and we shot for a while in the fading alpine glow before heading back down the mountain.  Getting back down it was nearly completely dark, but we decided to shoot for a bit longer and captured some of my favourite shots just outside the parking lot, where a snow covered logging road ran off into the distance between neighbouring peaks towering up into the sky.

Megan and Kyle are my dream couple, adventurous, sweet, easygoing, and so incredibly happy to be together and going out on an adventure.  I have to give them major brownie points for being game to hike straight up an icy mountain with me in February!  They are so incredibly lovely together, and had endlessly positive and supportive things to say to one another as we hiked up through the ice and snow.  I can’t wait to share these photographs, and am even more excited to share their wedding photographs that I shot later this summer!

Megan and Kyle, you guys made one of my dreams come true to shoot in the mountains, and are truly the type of people who re-affirm why I love this job so damn much!

Xo
-c

Brownstones and Bagels, an East-Village New York Engagement Session.

I met Emily and Kaegan in New York for their urban engagement shoot, downtown in the East Village neighborhood where Kaegan was living at the time.  It could not have been a more perfect location for such a jet-setting, adventurous, and well-traveled couple.  Their love story began when they first met in university, completing their degrees in architecture, and they have since lived and worked all over the world, pursuing their careers as international architects. 

Throughout their relationship they’ve lived and worked, together and separately, from New York, to Japan, to North Bay, to Toronto, and beyond.  I was lucky to catch up with them early one morning outside of Kaegan’s flat in the East Village, when Emily and I both flew down for a visit.  They were game to get up ungodly early to spend some time exploring their neighborhood before everything got too busy (major brownie points for being so game guys!).  New York might be known as the city that never sleeps, but we didn’t run into too many people at 5:30 in the morning!  The next few hours were spent wandering classic brownstone-lined streets, visiting their favorite neighborhood haunts, and watching the city (and it’s many dog residents) come alive to start their day.   When we finally waved goodbye, they were off to get a bagel for breakfast, and Kaegan was musing about what kind of pizza he wanted to have later that day.  It could not have been any more classic New York. 

I first met Emily at The White Squirrel Coffee shop in Toronto, and knew we would get along right away when she told me she would be coming straight over from having brunch with friends.  I had no idea how awesome the two of them are together though until we started shooting together.  I should have known that they were going to be a tonne of fun by how game they were to arrange our early morning engagement session in New York, but I was still blown away by their creative and free spirited natures that came out to shine on their wedding day.  I’m still working on editing all of their wedding photographs from a few weekends ago, but I can’t wait to share photographs from our sunset session, you’re going to be so inspired by what down to earth and relaxed people they are, even tromping through the muddy woods on their wedding day!

Melody & Edmond's Elegant Engagement at Queen's University, Kingston

Melody & Edmond traveled from Hong Kong to meet me in Kingston where they first met, on the campus of Queen's University.  We explored their their old stomping grounds and favorite haunts around campus, including the library where they spent hour after hour sitting and studying across from each other, before heading into Kingston.  In town we explored the cutest cobbled streets, open squares lined with gorgeous parliament buildings and restaurants, and visited Melody's favorite buildings (I was amazed by how European Kingston can feel!).  We walked past the go-to restaurants of their university days and reminisced, before finishing our shoot together at the waterfront on Lake Ontario.  I love taking a walk down memory lane together with my clients during their engagement sessions, and it was an added treat to be guided around Kingston together with these two!

I can't wait for you to scroll through and see how sweet these two are together, and I guarantee you're going to fall in love with each of Melody's stunning custom dresses.  She even had some of her talented friends come along to do her hair, makeup, and floral crown during the shoot!