• Sarah Soldau

So Cal Engagement Photos: What To Wear and Where to Shop for Brides

Congratulations, you’re engaged! Whether you want to get straight to planning your wedding or enjoy a long engagement, you may be thinking about getting engagement photos taken. Not only will they capture such a special time in your relationship, but you can put them to use when it comes to creating a save the date or personalizing your wedding website. One of the most common questions I see from brides is what in the world to wear for their engagement photos. The short answer: it depends.


You’ll want to think of a few things before deciding on an outfit. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is the location? Botanic garden, beach, wildflower field, mountains, or somewhere else meaningful to your relationship?

  2. What season is it? You’ll probably want to wear a different outfit on the beach in January than in August. I also challenge you to take this a step further: if you’re using these photos for your save the dates, what season will it be when you are sending them? What season will your wedding take place? If you’re a bit “extra” (like me), things like this may matter to you.

  3. What is your desired photoshoot style? Are you more of a laid-back couple or do you have an affinity for glitz and glamor? Again, if these photos will later be used in connection with your wedding, you may want to consider the style or theme of your day.


Once you’ve determined the type of vibe you’re going for, it’s time to start shopping! I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post how much I love shopping (I even have a shirt that says “Shopping is My Cardio” that I used to wear to the gym, back when going to the gym was a thing). While I love retail therapy, I love a good deal even more. For this reason, I rarely if ever shop online stores that do not offer free shipping and returns. I prefer to shop online for these types of occasions so I’m able to see the entirety of a store's inventory. My go-to stores for free shipping and returns are:

  1. Nordstrom- Of course. The gold standard in retail customer service. Free everything all the time.

  2. Target- One of my not-so-secret favorite places to shop for clothes (and everything else ever). Free shipping is included on orders over $35, or on any purchase if you have a RedCard. Free returns are granted within 90 days for all shoppers, with an additional 30 days as a RedCard member. Target owned brands can be returned up to a year after purchase!

  3. Revolve- Free shipping and returns within 60 days.

  4. Lulu’s- Free shipping over $50 and free returns within 10 days.

  5. ASOS- Free shipping over $50 and free returns within 28 days.

  6. Amazon- Only buy clothing with reviews that include photos, but you can find amazing items on Amazon with free Prime shipping and returns!


Now down to the nitty gritty. I’ve put together 4 looks to inspire your own outfits. These are all outfits that I would wear, so keep in mind that our personal styles may differ, but I hope this helps give you a better idea of what you might want to wear!


1. Pretty In Pink

A woman models a pink satin midi dress. There are also gold hoop earrings and a nude sandal featured.

I die for a good midi dress. And ASTR The Label makes just about the best. This lightweight, satin-style dress can be found at Nordstrom. For engagement photos, you really only have one main accessory, so I like to keep the jewelry simple, like with these twisted gold hoops from Amazon. These A New Day heeled sandals from Target are a very on-trend option similar to more expensive brands. I own them, and they’re pretty comfy from the first wear! This is a perfect spring engagement outfit for photos in city-setting or your favorite garden or monument.


2. Beach Goddess

A woman models a teal sheer maxi dress. There are accessories featured such as dainty gold, beach themed necklace, a gold cuff bracelet and gold anklets

This next one is the perfect look for a dramatic golden hour beach shoot. This dress from Revolve would look perfect blowing in the sea breeze or trailing in the water. Forgo the shoes and add simple anklets. I added a dainty gold necklace to compliment the deep-v neckline and a cuff bracelet, both with beachy vibes from ASOS. In Southern California, this could likely work year-round depending on the weather, but it just screams summer!


3. Cozy In Love

A woman models a cream oversized sweater and ripped jeans. There is a tan hat and white bootie featured.

Third, an option for colder weather (or for pretending it’s cold out like we do here). The slightly oversized sweater, straight leg distressed jeans and snake print ankle booties are all from Lulus.com. Finish it off with the Brixton Joanna Hat from Nordstrom. I love the clean, neutral color palette that will work with every location and background. It would really pop among greenery or pretty fall leaves!


4. Formal Flair

A woman models a nude and white, formal floor length gown. A rhinestone hairpiece and nude heeled sandals are also featured.

And lastly, an outfit for a more formal affair in this Dress the Population Sidney gown. I’ve been obsessed with this dress for a long, long time just waiting for an occasion to arise to justify purchasing it. It’s dreamy, fluttery and everything my modern fairytale princess dreams are made of. It comes in multiple colors, however the white overlay is perfect not only for your engagement photos, but also can double as a spectacular rehearsal dinner dress, or any other bridal event. The dress is a statement and while it is floor length, your shoes will always be visible. I’m always a fan of a simple nude heel, with Sam Edelman being my hands down favorite for a surprising amount of comfort. A smaller, sparkly hair accessory would add just the right amount of bling.


Your engagement photos should reflect who you are as an individual and as a couple. They’re an important part of your story, but shouldn’t be stressful or overwhelming. One more thing to consider is planning your hair or makeup trials for the day of your engagement photos, so all of that beautiful work doesn’t go to waste! Engagement photos are often used on save the date cards (or emails!) or just to keep as a memory. I hope this post helped to spark some inspiration or point you in the right direction.


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