I’ve been doing some complex mental math this month that I did not know was a thing until wedding planning started: picking engagement photo outfits. It turns out, Trevor and I are BOTH immensely picky and we don’t fit into most Pinterest tropes for engagement photos. We did not want to be matchy-matchy, we did not want to wear Americana plaid, and we did not want to look like a 90s prep photoshoot. These photos are cute, obviously! They’re just not really our style. So the question became: what do minimalists wear for engagement photos without looking totally austere? What do we wear in 2020 for such occasions? Besides the obvious answer, which is WHATEVER YOU WANT, we took this time to wear things that are fun, a little colorful, and still very us. Here are our ideas…
The first thing I did was create my dream clothes wishlist on Rent the Runway. I think engagement photos are a good time to be just a tad extra. Most of my clothes are neutral colors, so renting was a good option to try more colorful stuff that I would not usually buy, but like. I ended up with a big list of options that correlated with various settings we were thinking of taking pictures in. Our options were a record store, a greenhouse, and a downtown setting, so I aimed for clothes that had those general vibes. As we started thinking about how to kind of “go” together, though, I learned a bunch of valuable lessons. Like…
Start with the person with less clothes
This tip is swiped from Putting Me Together (who takes awesome family photos!). Start with the person with the least options–in this case, Trevor. We started with things Trevor owns that he likes and would want to have photos in, and his brown pants were one of the more colorful options. I riffed off the colors with oranges and yellows and we ended up with a kind of retro feel.
Another thing I’ve been thinking about is how the photos get used, usually on the wedding website and save the dates. Orange is one of our wedding colors (don’t judge hahaha), so I think these outfits will also set the tone for the wedding when we put the photos to use! For a casual outfit, I picked a striped sweater, but then thought the tones were a little strong, so I went for this option instead.
Look to the color wheel
The next thing I did was look at a lot of photos of where we would be taking pictures and what colors were present. We are going to do the city backdrop thing, but also a hotel with a lot of midcentury modern architecture and a stellar orange wall that people take great pictures in front of. This is where I got VERY SCIENTIFIC and looked for colors that were opposite of those on the color wheel so we wouldn’t be too matchy. I got really fixated on the orange wall, and then Trevor found this seafoam green shirt he liked, and that left me.
I decided some neutrals would be helpful here, but the other “color tip” I learned just from browsing is that too dramatic of a contrast (like black and white) is not the best combo. Unfortunately for the rules of photography, I had already become very fixated on polka dots, and this black and white dress in particular. So, I decided to soften that with jean jacket and add a little color with the shoes.
Overall, we’ve decided the aesthetic here is sort of retro, which I think will be fun with the orange wall and the midcentury modern architecture of the hotel.
Pick a complementary tone
I get why men end up in plaid shirts in these photos. With the right plaid, you can match a lot of things. At the same time, we’re not trying to look like we own a farm (respect if that’s your look and yes I know plaid doesn’t always look that way). This Kate Spade dress was on my list because red photographs SO well. Look at photos of women in red dresses. They are amazing! Which is why I now try to always bring a red sundress on vacation.
We picked a subtle plaid for Trevor (it has a red stripe in there, promise) and warm shoes/belt. Then I added a dark felt hat so we would have some nods to each other while not being totally matchy.
This outfit didn’t make the cut. But I will find another reason to rent this dress! We are getting photos taken next month so I’ll report back on how our choices work out. Do you have other tips for taking professional photos? Outfit choices? Ways to not look totally awkward??
Want to try Rent the Runway for your engagement pics? You can get $30 off if you’ve never ordered before by signing up here!