Wedding Party Photo Ideas: Everything You Need to Know

21 min read

From planning to posing to keeping your sanity, here’s everything you need to know about taking wedding party photos. (Featuring EASTERDAY CREATIVE, LOVE IS GREATER PHOTOGRAPHY, and SARAH JAY PHOTOGRAPHY)

Everything You Need to Know About Wedding Party Photo Ideas

The wedding party photos are some of the most challenging images you’ll make at a wedding. In a wedding, it’s not uncommon to have ten minutes to wrangle twenty semi-sober adults into some semblance of order. Oh! And keep it fun, and make sure everyone is smiling, and catch everyone’s eyes open, and show off the flowers, and watch the bride’s train, the flower girls, and… well, there’s a ton of stuff to remember in a wedding, and you now have 38 seconds to actually take the bridal party shot.

Because the wedding party pictures are such an important part of most wedding celebrations, we put together this guide to making great bridal party portraits.

A bride and groom stroll arm-in-arm across a lawn with their bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Sarah Jay Photography

Part One: Plan and Prepare

These bridal party planning hints and tips help to ensure fun, stress-free wedding party photo ideas – for your clients and you!

#1: You’re Literally Photographing Strangers

“You’ve probably developed a relationship with the bride and groom, but you’re technically just a stranger to their friends and family,” says Las Vegas photographer Sarah Jay – which is pretty weird when you think about the importance of the wedding day. That’s why you need to have your game face on at bridal party portrait time. You have mere minutes to warm everyone up, convince them to pay attention to you, and make album-worthy photos of the wedding party. You’ve got this!

A bride looks back over her shoulder as her bridesmaids walk in front of her toward an antebellum mansion.

Easterday Creative

#2: Get Your Plan in Place

If you want the wedding photos to go smoothly, you have to plan your bridal party ahead. “We talk with our couples before the wedding day to let them know how long photos should take and when will work best in their timeline,” shares Ohio photographer Stacey Carter of Love is Greater Photography. This means communicating about:

  • how many people are in the wedding party
  • which groupings and / or poses matter to the bride and groom for the photos of the wedding party
  • where the wedding photos will take place
  • how long your clients can reasonably expect these wedding photos to take

Our FREE Wedding Timeline Planner can help you get the details you need!

A bride and groom kiss as their wedding party stands in the background.

Love is Greater Photography

#3: Big Parties Require Even Bigger Planning

Be honest: your ideal bridal party only has two bridesmaids, two groomsmen, a flower girl and a ring bearer, no kids, and *maybe* a couple of llamas. Alas, wedding photographers don’t get to pick the bridal party. We simply swallow our panic when our clients tell us how a mere 48 of their “closest friends” will stand with them at their wedding. (Oh, and 11 nieces and nephews, none of whom are old enough to arrive without grape juice on their faces. It’s gonna be great.)

When you have a huge bridal party to contend with, you have to invest extra planning your wedding party photo ideas, because this throng of besties won’t all fit on the church dais, let alone in one limo. When discussing wedding party photo ideas, find out:

  • Who are the best man/woman and maid/man of honor? You’ll want to pose them close to the bride and groom on the big day.
  • Are there any siblings or other relatives in the bridal party?
  • Any couples among the wedding crew?

Take tons of notes, and take the time to consider posing possibilities and your wedding party photo ideas well-before photo time.

A bride and groom stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their wedding party in the middle of a city.

Love is Greater Photography

#4: Know Everyone’s Names

“Learn their names!” advises Sarah. “Knowing names will make the wedding party feel important, too.”

It’s easy to make note of names and relationships during the planning phase of your wedding party photo ideas. Then, during the wedding, strive to call people by name as much as possible. If you’re especially bad at remembering names, nicknames can do the trick; just take Sarah’s advice to “know your audience.” Some people love being called “sweetie;” others might find it awkward or offensive. However you handle your bridal party, show each person in the wedding respect, and have fun!

A wedding party walks through Las Vegas wearing sunglasses.

Sarah Jay Photography

#5: Photograph the Kids First

Kids – especially young kids – have approximately no attention span when it comes time for family and photos on a bridal party. Arguably, it’s harder to get a drunk groomsman to look at the camera than it is to wrangle a toddler at a wedding, but that’s not the point. In a bridal party session, what matters is that you get the kids in and out as quickly as possible so they can take a bathroom break and squeeze in a much-needed nap.

Prioritize which wedding photos of the bridal party must include the kiddos, and take those bridal party pictures first!

A bride poses with her flower girls who wear yellow dresses and flower crowns.

Sarah Jay Photography

#6: Are Your Clients Formal or Fun?

In a wedding, some of the fanciest folks you ever photograph will be the most irreverent, while your laid-back, salt-of-the-earth clients may surprise you with their formality. But the way someone behaves isn’t always a great indicator of how they’d like to be seen. Have conversations ahead of time about what your clients want their photos on their bridal party to look like.

This is also a great time to ask for example bridal party images. Remind your clients that you don’t ever duplicate another wedding party photographer’s work, but that seeing the kinds of wedding party photos ideas they’re attracted to will help you create the right wedding party vibe with your own wedding party images on that day.

Bridesmaids wearing fall colors pose with the bride beneath a natural wooden arbor.

Sarah Jay Photography

#7: Watch Out for Awkward Pairings

If you’ve never accidentally posed a divorced couple side-by-side for a group wedding photo, you haven’t lived.

But really: posing faux pas are easy to encounter when you’re wrangling a mob of strangers at a wedding. The rule of thumb: never assume to know who anyone is. That young lady may actually be the groom’s new stepmom. And those howling hyenas may, in fact, be the bride’s nephews. You just never know.

Before the day of the wedding, ask preemptively if there are any couples among your bridal party so you can pose partners together. And, in your wedding party planning phase, ask the couple:

  • “Are there any people who should not be posed together?”
  • “Do I need to be sensitive to any deaths or divorces among the portrait groupings?”

These simple questions will help you avoid any embarrassment or discomfort in the wedding party.

A bride and groom kiss in the middle of the street as their wedding party walks behind them.

Love is Greater Photography

#8: Explain What’s Going On

Let the group in on your wedding photo idea, and show them the results! “If you know you just got some ‘group magic’ in your camera, share it with the wedding party,” Sarah recommends. “This will develop trust between you and the group, and they will be even more responsive to your direction as you proceed.”

A bride poses with her bridesmaids in pink dresses wearing sunglasses.

Sarah Jay Photography

#9: Take Charge

During the bridal party photos is no time to blend in and be a fly on the wall. You have to take charge!

“Being a Las Vegas wedding photographer, I get my fair share of drunken groomsmen and selfie queens for bridesmaids!” laughs Sarah. “Find a balance between being a playful photographer and one who can reign them in when time is of the essence or attitudes are not their best.”

Sarah also advises wedding photographers to communicate with both honesty and humor. “Don’t be afraid to call them out and remind them, ‘I can fix a lot in Photoshop, but I can’t fix your facial expression!’ ” As long as you know your audience and can laugh at the situation, people will respond in kind.

A bride and her bridesmaids sit on a bar with beers in their hands.

Sarah Jay Photography

#10: Stay On Top of the Details

“It will only take a minute or two to make sure the little things are perfect, but that effort will truly make your images stand out!” says Sarah.

She recommends keeping an eye out for errant hairs, backwards necklaces, crooked ties, falling boutonnieres, off-kilter bouquets, and those pesky black hair ties so many women wear on their wrists. Most imperfections will go unnoticed in the final photo, but the wedding party will appreciate your effort!

A wedding party poses with the bride and groom in the middle of their line-up kissing.

Love is Greater Photography

#11: Keep the Energy Flowing

“We want to show personalities in the images – and we want the wedding party to have a blast!” shares Stacey. “We’ve been known to bring along a portable speaker and put on some jams to give the group something to dance to. Of course we deliver some traditional, ‘everyone smile at the camera’ images, but we always encourage the party to have a little fun too!”

A wedding party dressed all in black poses before a brick cathedral.

Easterday Creative

Part Two: Wedding Party Poses

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You just have to get some great wedding photos of your clients’ best friends looking fabulous! Here are some tried-and-true setups to inspire you.

#1: Mix and Match

Instead of posing all the dress-wearers on one side and all the suit-wearers on the other, mix and match your wedding party people for a more interesting look. Be sure to ask if there are any couples among the crew so you can pose partners together.

A wedding party in colorful dresses and black tuxes poses in front of a vine-covered wall.

Love is Greater Photography

#2: Keep ’em Moving

Who says wedding party portraits have to be stiff and formal? Get your wedding party to walk, skip, jump, or just snuggle “close-close-CLOSER!” until you get great photographs of huge smiles and authentic connection.

Groomsmen in tan suits walk casually across a tree-lined parking lot.

Easterday Creative

#3: Posing with Stairs

Ask any non-photographer and they’ll say, “Oh, this huge staircase will be perfect for photographing the wedding party!” But most staircases actually aren’t a great spot for portraits. Uneven light, close quarters, and a diminishing perspective are the major challenges. If you simply must photograph on stairs, try to obtain a small ladder so you can mitigate the perspective issues, and come prepared to add a bit of light to the folks near the back.

One exception is wide, outdoor staircases. If you can pose your group on no more than three steps, you’ll avoid the perspective issues, and the natural light should highlight everyone’s faces evenly. Or, as shown in the photograph below, shooting down the stairs can be a great solution when working in a smaller space!

A wedding party poses at the food of a staircase in a bright, naturally-lit studio space.

Easterday Creative

#4: Have a Seat

You’ll have way more posing options if you include some seating. If you’re inside, you can usually locate a cool sofa or bench. If you’re outside, snag a few folding chairs or seek out a low garden wall. Just be sure no one sits in pollen or dirt – especially not anyone wearing a white wedding dress!

Bridesmaids and groomsmen stand and sit in a formal portrait pose in the grass at the edge of a sun-filled forest.

Sarah Jay Photography

#5: Find the Story

If you’re shooting in a crowded city, let the natural activity and energy inform your images. Unplanned-for moments and surprise photo bombers can enhance the story and provide your clients with a wonderful collection of memories!

A wedding party poses beneath a theater marquee as a man rides by on his bike.

Easterday Creative

#6: Know Your Power Poses

“We’re not afraid to incorporate different angles and movements into the images,” says Stacey. “It’s not uncommon for us to pose guys in more powerful stances with a lower camera angle.”

Photographing someone from a low angle makes them appear large and looming – thus, more powerful. This is a strong pose, well-suited to any confident wedding party.

A row of groomsmen in black suits walk across a brick courtyard.

Love is Greater Photography

#7: Cheek to Cheek

Bring your subjects cheek-to-cheek and focus on their smiling faces for a sweet, simple portrait. “We often have the bridesmaids cuddle in close and show off their pretty florals,” Stacey describes. The florist will also love any images that shows off their hard work!

Bridesmaids in pink dresses surround a collection of pastel bouquets.

Love is Greater Photography

Consider photographing from above for a look that’s more focused on the faces. To show off the wedding party’s wardrobe, use a longer lens and photograph at a less dramatic angle.

A wedding party dressed in red and navy gathers around the bride and groom who are seated in a chair under a tree.

Love is Greater Photography

#8: Catch the Reaction

The Love is Greater Photography team loves to give their wedding parties a task. Sometimes they’ll ask them to strike a pose on the count of three, bust out their favorite dance move, or walk from point A to point B. “We’re not necessarily looking to deliver an image of that dance move,” admits Stacey, “but rather the genuine reactions and laughs that happen after!”

A wedding party strikes a pose on a baseball field.

Love is Greater Photography

When a wedding party is willing to be extra-silly, take extra photos so you don’t miss a moment of the hilarity!

A wedding party does a silly pose in front of a turquoise restaurant wall.

Easterday Creative

#9: Fake Laughs can be Real Fun

You know that adorable laughing wedding photo you see in magazines? You don’t have to wait for that to happen naturally! On the big day, position your wedding party as desired, then instruct them to laugh – ridiculously, loudly, and with total abandon. They’ll feel silly at first, but those fake laughs will quickly turn genuine, giving you ample opportunity to score some sweet, silly moments.

A bride and her bridesmaids walk arm in arm in front of an old farmhouse.

Easterday Creative

If you’re photographing a particularly stoic crowd, follow Sarah’s lead and show the wedding party one of the wedding photos on the back of your camera. Once they see how fantastic they look, they won’t question you again!

A wedding party stands shoulder-to-shoulder laughing expressively.

Sarah Jay Photography

#10: Baby Got Back

Everyone loves a cute tushy – especially if it’s draped in a gorgeous gown or dapper tuxedo! In your wedding photos, show off flowing trains, gorgeous updos, elaborate veils, and stylish silhouettes with this over-the-shoulder pose.

A bride and her bridesmaids post in the middle of a rural road and look over their shoulders.

Easterday Creative

A sweet kiss from your wedding couple on their big day will add a center of focus to your from-behind group wedding photos. Also look for lovely landscape or architectural elements to enhance your composition.

A wedding party stands beneath a willow tree with their backs to the camera as the bride and groom kiss in the middle.

Love is Greater Photography

#11: Get Super Serious

Have fun with super-serious expressions and comically stiff poses. Tell your clients to “think: Wes Anderson,” and they’ll probably get what you’re going for: a fun, modern portrait that won’t look like anyone else’s.

A wedding party stands under a blue sky overlooking the mountains.

Easterday Creative

Solid colored walls make great backdrops for your wedding photos if you don’t have access to beautiful natural scenery. Make the most of shape and color to build bold wedding photos.

A wedding party stands side-by-side in front of a large white brick wall.

Easterday Creative

#12: All About the Landscape

Put the landscape front-and-center with party photos that are big on atmosphere. Keep the poses simple so you can focus on capturing (or creating) the incredible environment.

A bride and her bridesmaids stand in a widely-spaced line in a tree-lined parking lot.

Easterday Creative

When photographing tiny people in a large landscape, watch the horizon line, and try to keep your subjects’ heads in a clear spot.

A wedding party poses on the red rocks of a western landscape.

Sarah Jay Photography

Don’t forget to move closer-in for a few shots so your clients can actually see who’s who!

Wedding parties pose in front of their venues.

Easterday Creative

#13: The Action Shot

Not all party photos have to be perfect portraits! Incorporate some action into whatever grouping you’re photographing, and you’ll get pictures that show off the brilliant personalities in front of your camera.

A group of bridesmaids shrieks as a champagne bottle explodes on them.

Sarah Jay Photography

#14: Rock Band Poses

Tell any group that you need them to strike an “album cover pose,” and they’ll probably immediately fall into a cool, casual stance. This is a great way to guide a party into a more relaxed look that won’t feel boring.

A groom in a grey tuxedo stands slightly in front of his groomsmen.

Sarah Jay Photography

You can achieve that same “album cover” vibe with a large group by individually posing each person on different levels. You’ll want to carefully instruct each person on how to stand, hold their flowers, and tilt their heads for photos that are totally magazine-worthy.

A blue and grey-dressed wedding party stands on the front porch of an antebellum mansion.

Sarah Jay Photography

#15: Casual Line-up

If you have space, the simplest wedding party photo ideas are made using a straightforward line-up pose. On the big day, get everyone standing in a line, slightly apart, and look at the camera… then at each other… then back at the camera… then IT’S FAKE LAUGH TIME! You’ll get a variety of expressions and plenty of styles.

Groomsmen in shirts and suspenders stand casually in front of a barn wall.

Easterday Creative

On the big day, create a bit more connection in your line-up pose by encouraging everyone to link arms or lean an arm on their neighbor’s shoulder. This will keep everyone close without them looking like one big bridal party blob.

A wedding party wearing navy and black pose on the streets of Las Vegas.

Sarah Jay Photography

#16: Photos that are All About the Couple

Put your wedding couple in the middle of their friends and make those lovebirds your only focus. Tell the party to cheer as the couple kisses, or have the couple lead their party on a short walk toward the camera.

A bride and groom kiss at the center of a circle of bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Love is Greater Photography

Walking photos don’t usually capture everyone’s faces perfectly, so be sure to make a few traditional shots at the end of this pose!

A bride and groom lead the way across a field with their wedding party.

Love is Greater Photography

What are your tips for making great bridal party photos?

Share your wedding party photo ideas in the comments below!


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