Figuring out what to wear for engagement photos can be challenging! I know this because, as a wedding and portrait photographer, couples frequently ask me for recommendations and advice. Well, you’ve come to the right place – I’ve got some ideas and inspiration for you!

A couple walks hand in hand along a granite ridge during engagement photos near Donner Peak.
Engagement photoshoot with Rhododendron flowers.
A joyful moment during a surprise wedding proposal in Lake Tahoe during winter.

Dress for Comfort

Twenty years from now, your photos will tell a story. That’s what I aim for in every engagement session. As someone who’s been behind the lens for a while now, I know the most important part is capturing you. Not just your smiles, but the way you two connect, the little moments that make you a couple.

Feeling awkward in front of the camera? I totally get it! I take the time to chat and get to know you as a couple. It’s about capturing real moments, not staged poses. When you feel comfortable and confident in your clothes, it shows in the photos. The result? Pictures that capture you at your best, naturally.

Practically speaking, the most picturesque locations are often off the beaten path. During your shoot, we might embark on a short hike to reach a panoramic vista. Whether we’re on a sandy beach or a grassy meadow, comfortable shoes and clothes that allow for movement are key.

A couple enjoys a moment on the wooden swing on Old Highway 40 above Donner Lake.
A comfy, oversized sweater for a photoshoot in the mountains.
A wide-angle view of a seated couple during an engagement photoshoot in a meadow with Cypress trees in the background.
Matching long UGG Marlene Sherpa fleece jackets for an LGBT engagement photoshoot.

Dress for the Season and the Weather

With comfort in mind (yours and mine), I start checking the weather forecast 6-7 days before every engagement session. Living in Lake Tahoe, I’ve become a pro at adapting to the weather’s whims. Raging snowstorms aside, I agree with the Scandanavians who say, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”.

Don’t be surprised if I’m sporting a winter coat in summer or rocking flip-flops during winter – you never know what the day might bring in this beautiful, yet unpredictable, location. For up-to-date predictions and a detailed forecast discussion, I go straight to the National Weather Service.

Some of the best places for engagement photos have wide open views, which can be particularly exposed to the wind. This is an important consideration for locations high up on the Sierra Crest, as well as beaches along the east shore of the Lake Tahoe. So, I always check the wind forecast as well. Windfinder is a wind forecasting website with detailed forecasts.

As you can see by looking around my website, I also photograph engagement photos in the Bay Area. And as you know, a foggy day in San Francisco can chill you to the bone when the breeze picks up!

Cold or windy weather doesn’t necessarily mean a postponed photoshoot. But if you want to be comfortable, you have to be dressed appropriately for the conditions. If it’s cold, bring a few layers and warm options. Hats also look great in photos, so bring one or two along!

Warm Golden Hour sunlight at a Lake Tahoe engagement shoot.
Exploring a winter landscape during a Truckee couples portrait session.
A couple uses a blanket to stay warm during engagement photos in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Tips for Engagement Photo Outfits

Now that we’ve covered the essentials for comfort, let’s dive into outfit ideas that’ll make you feel confident and looking your best in your photos.

I recommend you bring 2-4 outfit options and choose your favorites during the shoot. Since we will likely be outdoors the whole time, consider styles that are easy to change without needing a dedicated changing room (think layers or separates).

Uncertain about any of these suggestions? Feel free to message me, and I’d be happy to offer more tailored advice!

A romantic photoshoot at a beach in Lake Tahoe.
A romantic engagement photoshoot at Sand Harbor State Park.

Showcase your Style

Embrace your unique style, by wearing with outfits that are a touch more elevated than your everyday wear. Many couples bring one outfit that feels more casual, plus another set of clothes that feels more dressy.

A colorful engagement portrait in a red vineyard with red leaves.
A joyful moment during a Donner Summit engagement photoshoot, captured by photographer Chris Werner.
A barefoot engagement photo session at a beach in Lake Tahoe.

Coordinate but Don’t Match

Most couples look better in photos as a coordinated pair, rather than as a set of twins. If one of you wears a pattern, the other person can wear solid colors that complement that pattern.

Black and grey color palette for engagement photo outfits.

Since we’re talking about patterns, remember that clothing with fine details can cause moiré pattern in your photos. Avoid shirts, blouses, or jackets with intricate patterns like pinstripes or mini dots. Moiré occurs when a fabric contains repetitive details (such as lines, dots, etc) that exceed the camera’s sensor resolution. As a result, the camera produces strange-looking wavy patterns.

Pop Against the Scenery

Nature offers a stunning backdrop for couple portraits, but you don’t want to disappear into it.

Opt for outfits that complement the natural surroundings without getting lost. For example, choose bolder colors or interesting patterns that complement, rather than camouflage you, in the environment.

Baker Beach engagement photoshoot in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Colorful scarf idea for engagement photos.
Floral print dress for engagement photos in a forest.

Bring Your Adventurous Spirit

Many of my favorite photos capture the natural beauty of the environment. Imagine wading into a crystal-clear lake, hand-in-hand, or venturing across a babbling stream for a photo next to a waterfall. More often than not, a bit of adventure plus your special connection equals unforgettable moments and gorgeous photos.

Getting in the water during an engagement photoshoot on the beach.
A romantic moment for a couple during an engagement photoshoot on a mountaintop with forests and a lake in the background.
Walking hand-in-hand along a rocky shoreline during a Carmel engagement photoshoot with the ocean in the background.
A couple enjoys a quiet moment during their Lake Tahoe canoe engagement photo session.

Chris Werner Photography

Are you looking for some of the best places for engagement photos in Lake Tahoe? I’d love to help out! Head over to my contact page and shoot me a message so we can get the conversation started.

To see more examples of my work, check out my engagement photography portfolio.

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