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. 

Sophia & Terrence: A Summer Engagement Session on the Toronto Islands

Sophia and Terrence met at camp when they were teenagers, and have carried on the most beautiful long distance relationship between two different countries ever since. You can’t help but fall in love with these two when you meet them in person and see them interact!  I met them at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminals at the Toronto Harbourfront to fit in an engagement session while Sophia was visiting in Toronto.  We hopped on the ferry together and spent the afternoon exploring the Toronto islands, sipping coffee, walking with the sand between our toes, and enjoying some ice cream before Sophia boarded her plane back to Chicago.

            I had so much fun shooting with these two, and they have way too much fun hanging out together.  I can’t wait to share more photographs from their winter wedding in downtown Toronto right before Christmas last year!

xo
-c

Beth & Alex: A Sunny Engagement Shoot at their Georgian Bay Island Cottage

We spent an afternoon enjoying the warm summer breeze at Beth and Alex’s private family cottage on an island in Honey Harbour.

I first met Beth and Alex after work at Rooster Coffee in downtown Toronto, and instantly knew I wanted to work with them as soon as we started chatting dogs and cottages.  They have a friendly, laid back, Canadian-cottager vibe that carried through to all aspects of their relaxed and fun-loving engagement and wedding.   Alex is an avid outdoorsman, and Beth nurtures a secret talent for woodworking, learned from her grandfather and honed during summers at the cottage.  I could talk camping trips for hours, and am instantly awed by anyone with creative talent, so I couldn’t wait to spend time with these two over the course of our working together!

They invited me up to their family cottage to take their engagement photographs, tucked away in the islands of Honey Harbour. On a hot and sunny summer day, I was picked up in a little tin fishing boat at the nearby marina to start the afternoon. We cruised through sparkling waterways, past classic Canadian shield islands dotting the waters of Georgian Bay to reach their cottage. The family home was perched on top of a rocky island, and came complete with a welcoming crew of family and dogs.  These two clearly come by their friendly, happy natures honestly, how could you not when coming home to the cottage means being greeted on the dock by dogs, beer, and cookies!

I always ask couples to incorporate activities they love or places that are important to them into the engagement session, and Beth and Alex knocked it out of the park planning this shoot!  We started off across the island, fishing rods and beer in hand, heading to their favourite watering hole overlooking Giants Tomb across the bay.  The fish weren’t biting, but their pup, Brodie was happily occupied swimming after each cast, trying to catch the bait himself.  They enjoyed beers on the rocks, toes splashing in the warm water, took the tin boat out for a cruise, and finished by hiking through the island to a small wooden platform in the woods, furnished with Muskoka chairs, with a view over the bay.  This is where Alex proposed to Beth, surrounded by tea lights in wooden candle holders she had made that summer, smelling like pine trees, and with a view over the most meaningful place in the world to them. It’s so much fun to visit the spot where a couple got engaged and spend some time reminiscing together!

We had the best time taking their engagement photographs together, and I can’t wait to show you details from their relaxed and heartfelt wedding I photographed in Toronto this summer!l

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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! 

Vivian & Curtis's Downtown Toronto Engagement

One of the foundations of what I do is getting to know my couples as well as possible in the time leading up to their wedding.  As such, I always include an engagement session in my wedding photography packages, and encourage couples to plan an engagement session with me that really feels like 'them'.  Instead of what you typically envision when you think of engagement photos, I try to treat these shoots like mini wedding day practice sessions, slash a massive couple/photographer hangout time, and do my utmost to keep it all as relaxed and 'un-posed' as possible.  This makes my job much easier when I show up for a wedding day and already know who I'm photographing, and I get to have a wonderful time getting to hangout and photograph so many unique and interesting couples!

Vivian and Curtis are getting married later this summer and I absolutely can't wait to see what they're creating for their wedding after photographing this awesome and unique engagement session with them.  They really took it to heart when I suggested picking several locations around the city that resonated with them as a couple, and we ended up moving around three locations in the east end of Toronto, Odin Coffee, Wonder Pens, and Cherry Beach.  I always love starting at coffee shops or cafes where we can sit down for a drink, chat, and take a few photographs on the side to get everyone relaxed and feeling comfortable.  From there we headed down to their favorite pen store they visit whenever they're in the area, and got to learn more about Vivian's love for calligraphy and her budding creative business.  Finally, we finished by taking our shoes off and strolling along Cherry Beach, taking photographs, and talking more, because who doesn't love being barefoot by the water on a warm summer day? 

Take a look through some of their photographs below, and don't hesitate to get in touch about brainstorming the best engagement session activities and locations for you.  Whether that's making dinner at home, walking your dog in the park, or mountain climbing, I'm always up for any kind of adventure and am already looking forward to getting to know you!

xo
-c

Engagement Session at The Beaches

Meredith and Oliver came into the city to meet me for their engagement session in Riverdale and the Beaches.  We had so much fun exploring and shooting together, I walked away head over heels in love with this couple, and absolutely can't wait to photograph their wedding this upcoming summer!  Highlight: every time he told her she was beautiful, he would follow it up with something like 'and smart' or 'and you make me laugh', Meredith, well done ;).

Port Stanley Engagement Session

Sara and Luke's engagement session in Port Stanley was well worth the drive from Toronto, I have to send a shout-out to CAA for making it happen!  None of us had ever been to Port Stanley before, and we were all excited to checkout the beaches, quaint little town streets, and waterfront houses during the off-season.  It really is a fabulous area, and we were lucky to go in the shoulder season to miss the crowds and have miles of white sand beach to ourselves as the sun was setting!  These two were so fun to photograph and explore a new area with, and really I don't think anything can beat sunset photos on a beach by the lake-shore.  I can't wait to kick my wedding season off to an amazing start with these two in just a few more weeks!

Vintage Inspired Bridal Shoot Featuring the Copper Collective

I worked on this amazing bridal editorial shoot in collaboration with the talented girls who own The Copper Collective, a curated online vintage clothing company based out of Collingwood, Ontario.  After finding a gorgeous second hand wedding dress on one of their shopping trips, we started pulling together plans for a clean and rustic styled shoot focused on their amazing vintage find. As with all inspired creative projects, the pieces for this shoot fell into place beautifully, and I had the most fabulous time working with such a talented group of people to pull off our first styled bridal shoot!

Vintage wedding dress:  The Copper Collective
Florals:  Janna Dekker of Wildernis Florals
Calligraphy:  Alex Ruston of Honour Bright
Hair: Pure Organic Hair
Venue:  Tremont Cafe
Jewelry: Jessica Wolfe Design
Model: Claire Woodhouse

Thank you all so much!

xo
- c
 

Creemore Engagement Shoot

Katie and Jamie planned the perfect engagement session up in Creemore this fall.  Starting out with a beer tasting at the Creemore brewery, we then moved into a quaint Creemore coffee shop, and eventually finished up with an evening at Wasaga Beach with miles of white sand to ourselves.  I love shooting fun engagement sessions that represent a couple, the places that are important to them, and things that represent them together.  These two absolutely killed it, and finishing off with this engagement session has made me so excited already to keep working with my amazing clients in the new year!