best wedding and engagement photographer in Portland Oregon and PNW floral detail photograph

everything you need to know to help you pick the perfect outfit for your engagement session.

Golden hour Forest engagement pics near Detroit Lake Oregon by wedding photographer Dionne Kraus

Holy crap... I know it can feel kind of daunting to pick what to wear for your engagement photos. Don't you worry, I'm here to help! These are a few guidelines I’ve put together so you can be sure to look amazing and feel like Beyonce, while still making sure the images FEEL and LOOK like you. Remember, these are only GUIDELINES, not rules! They are just what I’ve found to work best from trial and error from past shoots. You can show up wearing potato sacks for all I care. (wait, I take that back. I WOULD care. Please don't actually wear a potato sack.)

Most of the time, you probably don't even need to go shopping for new outfits. Bring clothes you normally wear, stuff that’s already in your closet that you love and feel yourselves in. An old band t shirt and ripped jeans? Perfect. A big, knit, oversized sweater and combat boots? Awesome. That funky blazer you've been trying to pull off? Please. Or something a little dressier with a long flowing skirt and a leather jacket? I'm a fan. Can't decide? Bring them both.

Not only are you going to LOOK amazing, you're gonna FEEL amazing. And your photos will be amazing as a result.

Oregon Elopement photographer backdrop

Here’s a few guidelines to help if you’re feeling lost about what to wear :

Bring multiple outfits! There's nothing that says you have to stick to just one set of clothing for your shoot. Many of my couples opt to wear a dressier outfit AND a more casual option. If you need help narrowing your options down, feel free to bring them all with you and I'd love to help you decide. I’ll help you pick and pull from the options you bring to change into for each backdrop we shoot at. This way I can make sure the outfits compliment the environment so that the focus is on you two, not on any distractions, which yes, can be your outfits. All you have to do is make sure you bring stuff that you feel like a million bucks in that we can pick from!

Don’t bring your whole closet though. It will take too much time for me to go through everything and will take time away from your session. Just a few different options and then you can bring dresses, accessories, jackets and whatnot as well. Also, just know that depending on where we are shooting, you’ll most likely be changing in the back of the car on the side of the road, or in my handy-dandy pop up changing tent. If you aren’t down with that, that’s totally fine and you can just bring one outfit! Just make sure to text me a few photos of the outfit options you have and we can pick it out together beforehand.

Engagement session couple walking along the rocky Cannon Beach Oregon during sunset


Engagement outfit guide for couples planning their pre wedding photos

location + comfort.

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Engagement outfit guide for couples planning their pre wedding photos

Think about the conditions and locations we are going to be shooting in and plan around it. Make sure what you are wearing makes sense for where we are. If we are going to be hiking around the mountains, bring shoes that you can walk around in. If we are shooting on a sandy beach, you'll most likely want to be barefoot. Heels are almost always a bad idea in most scenarios, unless you’re freakishly good at walking in them OR you plan to change into them before shooting. If it’s freezing cold outside, bring lots of layers and boots. If it’s going to be hot, bring clothes that can breathe more so you don’t have sweaty pit stains in the photos. Be as comfortable as you can be!

PNW photography workshops and mentoring with Oregon wedding photography


Engagement and elopement photography in the Pacific Northwest PNW
Engagement Outfit inspiration guide with couple in fall colors orange, yellow and green Oregon

color do's + don'ts.

I recommend you lean towards neutrals, earthy tones, and metallics. This doesn't mean that you're just limited to creams, browns, and grays. There are neutrals to every single color! Instead of green, go for a soft forest green. Instead of red, go with a deep maroon. Instead of yellow, choose a mustard yellow.

Think about your session location. What colors can you see in the backdrop there? Wear neutral colors within those same tones. That way you'll fit perfectly with your surroundings.

Complimentary = GOOD, matching = BAD. Gone are the days of blue jeans and matching white polos. You only want to wear complimentary colors with each other, don't match one another's outfits perfectly. Complimentary means the variety of colors, textures, accessories, patterns, and tones all coordinate together while there is still separation from each.

Engagement outfit guide for couples planning their pre wedding photos


Oregon wedding photographer white arrow picture

pattern + textures.

Avoid big, loud, crazy patterns. The smaller and more subtle, the better! If the pattern is too loud, it will distract from your faces. Flannels and floral patterns are okay, but use them sparingly. And in very neutral tones. I usually try to avoid pairing too many patterns together because, as I'm sure you can guess, it makes the photos feel hectic and distracting.

If you've hung out with me for any length of time you will hear me say over and over how important the textures of your clothing are. If it FEELS cool and interesting to the touch, it will LOOK cool and interesting in your photo. Knit sweaters, textured tights, worn corduroy pants, velvet blazers, and leather jackets all are examples of interesting clothing textures. And I'm a fan.

Pro Tip: Anything that can show movement or catch the wind is a big fat YES. The movement of dresses, skirts, or scarves add so much energy and beauty to your images.

Oregon coast engagement session with warm flannel shirt and flowy dress inspiration outfits
Oregon photographer engagement outfit inspiration shoot


Engagement and elopement photography in the Pacific Northwest PNW
Engagement Outfit inspiration guide with couple at Horsethief Butte WA with cream and tan colors

accessories + props.

Accessories are always encouraged and can be such a fun element to add. Rad hats, cool sunglasses, fun scarves, and jewelry can add more interest to your outfits. Plus, as in the case with items such as hats and sunglasses, they also give you something extra to do with your hands which is always a good thing in photos.

Avoid chalkboards and other similar "props". Instead, opt for a cozy blanket, a campfire, bouquet, skateboards, your naked cats (*pup steals the show, fine with it*), etc. If you have a motorcycle or rad vintage car or truck, you better bring that too or I'll be pissed. Props don't have to be cheesy and they can really add some rad elements to your session.

PRO TIP: As much as we all love our Apple watch (or any watch for that matter) take them off for your photographs.

Engagement Outfit inspiration guide with couple at Horsethief Butte WA with paddleboard props on the water
Engagement outfit guide for couples planning their pre wedding photos


Oregon wedding photographer white arrow picture
top photo locations for couples engagement shoot in the columbia river gorge

hair + makeup.

Engagement outfit guide for couples planning their pre wedding photos

A lot of people ask me whether or not they should get your hair and makeup done by a pro. My answer is always “whatever will make you feel best, do that.” It’s NOT necessary whatsoever, but if you want your hair and makeup done, then definitely do it. The most important thing is that you FEEL confident and beautiful. Just make sure that you tell the hair and makeup artist to go natural and light, because we want you to still LOOK like you! Don't over do it or go too heavy on the makeup if that is not something you normally do.

And if your skin is whiter than toothpaste like me and you want a tan, be sure to get a suuuuper natural airbrushed spray tan rather than one from a salon/tanning place. We don’t want you looking like an oompa loompa!

Engagement outfit guide for couples planning their pre wedding photos


Check out this Pinterest board for some more engagement outfit inspiration! >>>

Engagement session photograph during sunset on the top of a cliff at Horsethief Butte in Washington by Portland Photographer
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Whelp, that's all folks.

That's it! Just apply the outfit guidelines from above and your engagement outfits are going to ROCK.

If you have anymore questions, don’t hesitate to let me know! If you’re still freaking out about what to wear feel free to shoot me a pic or two of what you’re thinking and I can help you decide. But overall, just wear what you’re comfortable in and feel like you in. A pair of Vans you’ve had since 8th grade? Cool. A long maxi skirt that you love to twirl around in? Great. A sweater you wore for basically a month straight? Awesome. A hat that you know your mom hates? Perfect. You do you, and I promise the photos will turn out amazing.


ready to schedule your own engagement session? Let's chat!