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How To Shoot Bridal Party Portraits

Last year I made a series of changes in my business to better my couples’ wedding experience. One of the changes I made was creating a system that allowed me to pose the bridal party in a timely manner. We all know that on a wedding day things usually get delayed, the timeline gets off track, and as a result it cuts into the amount of time we had allocated for portraits. If you know in advance the things that you need to accomplish, you manage for even a very short amount of time to work in your favor.

When it comes to posing the bridal party, I follow this list I created for myself to ensure that I have a wide variety of poses. I can normally knock out the wedding party photos in about 10-15 minutes, although I always allow at least 30 minutes in the timeline for the bridal party portraits.

During last year’s wedding season, I had the opportunity to work with a great wedding coordinator that allowed for extra time in the timeline for all the bridal party portraits, first look, and bride and groom photos. This sounds like every photographer’s dream, right? The only catch was that these portraits were scheduled midday, in full sun light and everybody was hot and didn’t want to be outside for very long. Especially the ladies, after having their makeup freshly done. So what I did was take advantage of the posing system I created for the bridal party, and got the photos taken in a timely manner. The bridal party was then able to go inside, cool down, and freshen up before the ceremony. The wedding coordinator was shocked that we were so fast because “most photographers take a long time”. Oh, did I mention this bridal party had 12 bridesmaids and 9 groomsmen?! It wasn’t easy, but here’s what I did!

The first thing I do is place the ladies on one side and the groomsmen on the other. Then…

  1. I have everybody face me. The bride and groom can hold hands if they want, and I usually tell the guys to hold their hands left over right or put them in their pockets, and the girls to hold their bouquets at their waist.

bridal party

2. Again, girls on one side, guys on the other. The ladies have the bouquets held at their waist and the gentlemen are holding their hands left over right. This time I have them turn slightly towards the bride and groom. Like so:

trump winery charlottesville wedding

3. Pose #3 is similar to the above pose, but this time I have the bridal party pair up on both sides of the bride and groom. To make things easier, you can ask them to pair up the same way they are walking down the aisle, if the number of bridesmaids is the same as the number of the groomsmen.

trump winery

4. From pose #3 I just ask the bride and groom to kiss while the bridal party will cheer. They can look towards the bride and groom or towards each other.

trump winery wedding

5. In my final pose I ask the bride and groom, as well as the bridal party to walk towards the camera smiling and laughing while looking towards each other.

sierra vista wedding

I usually ask the couple to make two steps ahead of everyone and stop and kiss while the bridal party is still walking behind them.

West Manor wedding

These are my 5 core poses when it comes to posing the entire bridal party. If the time allows it, I sometimes add in a “cheering” pose (similar to pose #4) while I still have the ladies on one side and the gentleman on the other.

trump winery wedding

I might also try to do a “funny face” pose. This is usually one of my favorites and it gets everyone to be more relaxed!

trump winery

Another bonus shot would be what I call the “selfie” shot. Basically I get the bridal party together like they are about to take a selfie of themselves. Then I either have them all smile or do something silly. Aaand it turns out like this! Haha!

lynchburg wedding photographer

To add more variety and deliver extra photos, have your second shooter take photos of the same poses from a different angle. Like so:

sorella farms

Or, if you’re not shooting in a tight space, always shoot a pose both horizontal and vertical. This will help a lot when you design a wedding album :)

west manor estate forest va

And there you have it! Here is how I memorized the 5 core poses: 2 shots with the ladies on one side and gentleman on the other, 2 shots with the bridal party paired up on both sides of the bride and groom, and 1 shot of them walking towards the camera. That’s it!
While everybody is walking towards the camera, you can get multiple shots, especially if you ask the bride and groom to stop and kiss while the bridal party is walking behind them.

So, the extra poses would be: the cheering pose, the funny face pose, and the selfie pose.

That is 9 different shots to use when you are in a rut. If your second shooter shoots the same poses from different angles, you have 18 totally different shots to deliver to your bride and groom. Shoot both vertically and horizontally and you are going to have at least 27 images of just the bridal party, not including the shots of the bride+bridesmaids and groom+groomsmen. I have a system in place for those as well. I use 8 core poses for the ladies and 8 core poses for the gentleman.

If this post has helped you, and you would like to find out how I pose the bridesmaids+bride and groomsmen+groom, let me know in the comment box below and I will make sure to provide that resource to you as well!

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  • January 8, 2016 - 3:35 pm

    Colby - I love this article! Definitely, helpful to have a few core poses. Would love to hear about your poses for maids and groomsmen!ReplyCancel

    • January 8, 2016 - 6:28 pm

      Alina Thomas - So glad you love it, Colby! I will work on those in the following weeks as well.ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2016 - 3:45 pm

    Aimee - Yes please do a blog post for the other poses! This was so helpful, I really appreciate you sharing <3ReplyCancel

    • January 8, 2016 - 6:27 pm

      Alina Thomas - I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the article, Aimee! I am going to share the other poses in the following weeks. Make sure to come back and let me know your thoughts!ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2016 - 4:14 pm

    alex - Thank you so much for this! Great job. Any posts on posing are gold in my book!ReplyCancel

    • January 8, 2016 - 6:23 pm

      Alina Thomas - Posing can be challenging if you don’t have a system in place. I’m glad you enjoyed it!ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2016 - 5:28 pm

    Evan + Lee - Thanks you for this post! I’m bookmarking it for our reference!!ReplyCancel

  • January 9, 2016 - 11:46 am

    Deb - Love this… I look forward to hearing about your next core poses for bridal party. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2016 - 7:01 pm

      Alina Thomas - I’m so happy you love it, Deb! The next post is coming up soon.ReplyCancel

  • January 9, 2016 - 12:45 pm

    Aimee G - Such a great post!!! As a planner, it’s so helpful when the photographer is organized and can keep things moving so the wedding party or family members don’t start to wilt or get weary. I would love to have a quick chat or collaborate with you on a post about the family portraits during a wedding. I’ve helped photographers corral families of 75+ – would love your insight and to have an open conversation about this part of the wedding day.ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2016 - 7:03 pm

      Alina Thomas - Hi Aimee! I would love to discuss that with you. I have a system in place for the family portraits as well. Email me @ alina@alinathomas.com. I’m always happy to help!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2016 - 9:28 pm

    Melissa Batman - Thank you Alina for posting this! I would also love to hear about your 8 core poses for the ladies and guys. I am a huge fan of your work!ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2016 - 7:04 pm

      Alina Thomas - Thank you, Melissa! You are too sweet. I’m excited to share the other core poses soon.ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2016 - 3:44 pm

    Courtney - Great post! Love the images!ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2016 - 3:46 pm

    Samantha - Great post! I LOVE posts for posing for photographers! So many great tips for bridal parties because they can be so scary sometimes! Thanks for the thoughtful article :)ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2016 - 7:06 pm

      Alina Thomas - They sure can. The trick is to stay in control and have a system in place.ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2016 - 3:49 pm

    Hannah - Perfect! Great idea to get it down into a groove.ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2016 - 5:30 pm

    Theresa Rasmussen - Great idea and poses! Would love to know about your bride/bridesmaid and groom/groomsman poses as well!
    Do you have a sample like this for couple or family poses?

    Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2016 - 7:08 pm

      Alina Thomas - Hi Theresa, I do have something similar that I use for couples and family portraits. I am going to talk more about it in the upcoming blog post.ReplyCancel

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