Tips for Styling your Engagement Photos

stephanie williams

We have such a fun treat for you lovelies today! We know that right now and springtime are the most popular time for engagement photos, so we are thrilled to have the immensely talented Stephanie Williams sharing four essential tips for styling your engagement shoot and picking out your wardrobe! Stephanie recently published her book, This Modern Romance, which is all about engagement photos. I have a copy and it’s such a great book for photographers looking to capture the artistry of engagement photos – including how to capture the love between a couple as well as techniques + business tips.

For all of you lovely engaged couples – your engagement photos are the perfect time to find a fun backdrop + grab some incredible images that really capture your excitement for your upcoming wedding. We get lots of emails about what to wear and what type of props should they use, so I hope these tips from Stephanie are helpful! :)  So without further ado, I’ll let Stephanie take it from here…

gold love balloons


1. Props – Adding props into you photos can be a fun way to provide some personal insight into a relationship. When used simply, and in moderation, props can add an engaging element to your shoot through additional storytelling and thematic cohesion. Think of props as an element of design used to bring the shoot together, by tying together a theme and/or complimenting the story of your love. Your photographer or blogs like this one is often a great resource to direct you to prop rental companies. There are different types of props that can be used during an engagement photography shoot. Personal props generally have special significance (like a family heirloom) or reflect the couple’s lives together, like a vintage car or Vespa scooter. Creative or cute props are used with the intention of adding whimsy and flair to the shoot. For instance, a large colorful balloon or handmade banner adds a pop of color and a graphic element. Finally, location-based props, like a rowboat on a lake, come with your chosen location.

xo letters

stephanie williams


2. Storyboarding – Storyboarding is a tool often used in filmmaking, which also works really well when planning out an editorial session that has a certain intended flow to the story. A storyboard is a layout of the various shots you want to get throughout shooting, from beginning to end. Creating a storyboard does more than just help you plan your session, it stimulates your inventive mind, nurturing new ideas, colors, and direction.

stephanie williams styling


3Mood Boards – If you’re looking to capture your lifestyle in your shoot, consider creating a mood board. Mood boards are generally a collage created out of related colors, images, and textures as a design palette. If you’re creating a mood board for inspiration, try starting with an image that is central to your relationship or your chosen theme and build from there. Pinterest is an excellent tool to create a moodboard and share it with your vendors, so they can give you feedback or suggestions and get a good idea of the style you are going for.

stephanie williams

stephanie williams


4. Wardrobe + Styling – One of the first questions couples ask their photographers is “What should we wear?” Keep in mind that many photographers aren’t stylists. Stylists are a wonderful resource that you can collaborate with to come up with the perfect wardrobe for your shoot. If these kinds of services are too pricey, companies like J. Crew and Nordstrom’s offer free personal shoppers to help pick out clothing that flatters your shape and complement each other. Besides looking through inspiration on blogs and photographer’s websites, Pinterest (you can tell I love Pinterest!) is also an amazing resource, and you can get lots of inspirational images by typing in search words like ‘engagement outfits’ or ‘What to wear for an engagement.’ Shooting in a few different outfits allows you to have lots of options when buying/framing prints for your walls or lots of visual interest when creating an album of your session afterwards. But most importantly, make sure your clothes represent who you are.

stephanie williams styling

yellow balloons


Some tricks of the trade include: taking eye drops one hour before the shoot to take the red out of your eyes, always get your hair and make-up professionally done – you’ll look and feel fabulous! Try to stay with a certain color palette or scheme with your props and wardrobe, avoid tiny or busy prints and ultra thin lines since they tend not to photograph well, have lots of fun, be playful, and relax and let your photographer guide you!

stephanie williams styling


Big thanks to Stephanie for sharing so much awesome information with us today! How many of you have an engagement session planned in the next couple months? Share your own tips + plans in the comment section below!

ThisModernRomance_book


Award-winning photographer Stephanie Williams, who recently released her first book “This Modern Romance” from Focal Press, runs her own wedding and fashion photography studio, This Modern Romance, in California. She was listed as one of the Top 20 Destination Wedding Photographers in the world by Destination Weddings and Honeymoons as well as one of PDN’s Rising Stars in Wedding Photography. View her work at This Modern Romance.

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Kate Bosworth + Michael Polish’s Wedding

Kate Bosworth Wedding

If you’ve already picked up a copy of the winter issue of Martha Stewart Weddings, you may have caught a glimpse, or possibly poured over, Kate Bosworth + Michael Polish’s gorgeous Montana wedding. We’re excited to share a few of our favorite photos with you today (taken by John Dolan), and you’ll definitely want to pick up a copy of the magazine to see the entire wedding in all of its grandeur!

Kate + Mike choose Montana as a destination where their guests could come together to celebrate their love, but also truly unwind. The festivities spanned over a relaxing and joy-filled weekend, starting with a fun, “modern hoedown” for their rehearsal dinner. Kate wore an incredible vintage Chloé dress + love that Michael was fully decked out in Levi’s! :)

Kate Bosworth Wedding Dance

Kate Bosworth Rehearsal Dinner Menu


Here’s a peek at their rehearsal dinner decor, which featured enamelware plates, camp lanterns, custom monogram bandana napkins + horse shoe napkin anchors. The loosely arranged wildflower centerpeices evoked an equally casual + playful feel. Majorly love it!

Kate Bosworth Rehearsal Dinner

Kate Bosworth Wedding Dress


You can see more from the behind the scenes of their wedding on Martha Stewart Weddings. Kate + Michael’s wedding weekend is perfect inspiration for all of you newly engaged couples who are planning a rustic, outdoor wedding, so be sure to pick up the winter issue of Martha Stewart Weddings, on newsstands now, to see even more – including their welcome dinner, rehearsal dinner, ceremony + reception! Congrats to Kate + Michael on a truly gorgeous day!

Photos by John Dolan for Martha Stewart Weddings

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Sweet Yosemite Wedding: Noel + John

yosemite wedding

Noel + John have a deep love of the great outdoors and wanted that to show in their sweet, September Yosemite wedding. Their goal was for the decor to feel like a natural extension of their surroundings and for their guests to be captivated by the magic of the forest. They entrusted their talented team of vendors to bring their vision to life and I’d say Alison EventsBrown Paper Design were just the right group of gals for the job! I love how they decked out the rustic setting with punchy florals + romantic details to create a cozy + idyllic vibe…

Thanks so much to Jesse Leake Photography for sharing Noel + John’s beautiful day with us + big congrats to the happy couple!

woodland invitation

wedding pins

rustic boutonniere

bride and groom

pastel rustic bouquet

bride and groom

bride and groom

rustic bridesmaid bouquet


Love the bridesmaid’s flowy BHLDN frocks!

yosemite bridesmaids

yosemite cermony

yosemite cermony

vintage red truck

yosemite cermony

The most memorable moment of the day was standing up with John during the ceremony, looking at each other and knowing that moment was the beginning of forever. It is hard to describe the amount of love you feel from your partner and from your family and friends surrounding you. It's completely overwhelming - in the best way.

yosemite cermony

yosemite cermony

bride and groom

flower girls

cocktail lounge

cocktail lounge

compass escort cards

rustic yosemite reception


A gorgeous garland served as the perfect backdrop for the sweetheart table.

trunk centerpieces

rustic yosemite reception

rustic yosemite reception

rustic yosemite reception

fresh garland decor

vintage red truck

Hire a planner - And then, don't sweat the small stuff. You will hear it time and time again, because it's true.

Weeks before our wedding date, our venue almost burned down in the Rim Fire. We didn't know if our wedding would happen as planned, but we did know that no matter what, we would still get married and have the support of our loved ones.

If you can allow yourself to let go of the details and remember your wedding is about the two of you making a commitment to each other (everything else is a bonus), at the end of the day you will be left with the special moments and memories that really matter.

Don't get so caught up in the destination that you miss the journey. Planning the details of the wedding with John was such a special time in our relationship and I loved having him by my side for the ups and downs. I think the process made us grow as a couple and prepared us even more for our life together. Enjoying the planning process together made the big day that much sweeter.

photography: Jesse Leake Photography // venue + catering: Evergreen Lodge Yosemite National Park, California // event design + planning: Alison Events Planning & Design // florals: Brown Paper Design // wedding dress: Pergola by Pronovias from Novela Bridal in SF // custom pins: Kristin Ketola // shoes: Jimmy Choo // bridesmaid dresses: BHLDN // makeup: Sophia Coyne of Painted Ladies // hair: Kristin Maddox of Red Chair Salon // groom’s suit: Indochino // videography: Fish Eye Films // paper goods: Olive-Route Design & Letterpress // music: Matt Masih & the Messengers // DJ: Penninsula Mobile Music

This wedding features rad artists fromThe GWS Wedding Artist GalleryYosemite National Park is a Featured Artist in the GWS Artist Guide! Find more rad artists for your day in our Gallery
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