From planning to posing to keeping your sanity, here’s everything you need to know about taking wedding party photos.
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.
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.
#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
#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.
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.
#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.
#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!
#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.
#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.
#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.”
#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.”
#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, backward 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!
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.
#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 connections.
#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.
#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!
#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!
#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.
#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!
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.
#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!”
When a wedding party is willing to be extra-silly, take extra photos so you don’t miss a moment of the hilarity!
#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.
#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.
Keep Your Couples Coming Back For More!
Albums and framed prints are the most popular photography products offered by the wedding photographers.
As a photographer, you can ensure healthy product sales by instructing simple wedding poses customers will love.