So, the big day has arrived. You are at the wedding venue at the prescribed time, you are ready with gear in hand, batteries charged up, and if you are lucky, a second shooter is ready to go. Suddenly, it hits you. You are in charge of preserving this sacred day. It’s important you have your list of wedding poses already thought out before you arrive at this moment.
I find it really helpful to have a prefabricated list of must-have shots and poses before the panic overcomes my ability to think clearly. If you are are thinking about starting a career in wedding photography or want to sharpen up your skills as a wedding photographer, this guide is for you.
Table of Contents
- How to Prepare
- Tips to Keep Poses Natural
- Wedding Posing Mistakes
- Ideas for Wedding Photography Poses
- More Must-Have Wedding Poses
How to Prepare
Just like any job, there are certain steps you can take to better prepare yourself for the workday. Here’s a list of some of my favorite steps to take to better prepare for a wedding day photoshoot. Including meeting the couple before the big day and scheduling an engagement session so they can get a feel for how I shoot before the wedding.
Meeting Before the Wedding Day
As often as possible I like to have a pre-wedding consult a few weeks prior to the actual wedding day with the bride and groom. We sit down and discuss the timeline for their event, the ideas they have, and any must-have shots and portraits that they would like on their wedding day. Not only does this give me a detailed list to work from when shooting the formal shots, but it often gives me a glimpse into the family dynamics and relationships between the people who are going to be attending.
It’s always a good idea to include an engagement session in your wedding photography packages. Most wedding photographers use this session a feeler for how the couples will be on their wedding day. This is a much less stressful situation as well to learn how the couples interact with each other, how much direction they need, and if they are laid back or have a lot of shots in mind before.
As a wedding photographer I love spending this time to chat away with my couples and learn more about them. On the wedding day, you will have little time to talk and learn more about them, take this time to build a friendship.
When the couple trusts you, they will give you more on the wedding day including genuine smiles and a relaxed attitude knowing they can depend on you to capture thier wedding photos.
Tips to Keep Poses Natural
Have you ever felt awkward trying to pose a wedding day couple? Many times the bride and groom are not accustom to posing together. It’s your job to give verbal cues and examples to help them find their way to natural positioning. There are many ways to accomplish this. Lets explore some here.
Pay attention to their body language
The first thing you should be paying attention to is how the couple interact with each other. Are they shy? Do they look uncomfortable in front of the camera? Or are they the total opposite, eating up the attention and moving freely, not caring whose watching? Pay attention to their body language.
It’s important to respect how the couple interacts with the camera becuase you never want to force a bride and groom to pose in a way they are not comfortable with. Some couples hate cheesy forehead kisses while others adore making hearts with their hands and kissing forgetting anyone else exist. By learning how the couple interacts with each other you will have a better idea of what to ask of them on the big day and in return they will give you natural and genuine posing.
Also, remember to give the couple little cues to get natural laughter. I love telling my couples to look into each others eyes for 20 seconds without looking away. They usually end up breaking into laughter. Another great tip is to have the groom tell the bride how he felt the first time he saw her, or recall their first date, the first time he knew he loved her. These are emotional cues that will create laughter, tears, and genuine facial expressions.
Lastly, if you can be discreet ask the bride to squeeze the groom’s butt. This gets a burst of laughter always from both of them. These are some great natural ways to help a wedding couple relax and have fun in their portraits. As the wedding photographer, it’s your job to give them help and capture breathtaking wedding photographs and images to last a lifetime.
Wedding Posing Mistakes
Many wedding photographers will disagree on poses that should or shouldn’t be used during a wedding photoshoot. But these are a few things you want to avoid doing at weddings so your poses look their best.
- Remind couples to close their eyes and relax their shoulders.
Many wedding couples become nervous when you shove a camera in their face. Often they will forget to close their eyes when kissing and bunch their shoulders close to their chin. It’s important you take note of this quickly and remind the couple to relax and have fun.
- Give a cue a take a step back.
There’s nothing worse than a photographer talking while the couple is getting relaxed and intimate, giving the camera the best opportunity for images. Some photographers nervously chat throughout the shoot. Remember to give the couple a verbal cue such as “practice your first dance” and then step back and let them relish in the moment without your voice interrupting. The goal is that they forget you are there.
There are so many important moments happenign on a wedding day that sometimes it feels like all is rushed and the wedding is over before it even began. Remind yourself and your bride and groom to relax, be in the moment and slow down as you give each wedding pose idea.
- Manage Expectations.
Let your bride and groom know before the wedding that they can tell you any insecurities or poses they hate or dislike. It’s important to be clear that they won’t be hurting your feelings and that you want to know the type of photography they enjoy. Tell them not to be shy when it comes to poses they want. Brides especially sometimes need that extra push to speak up about the composition they are expecting.
Ideas for Wedding Photography Poses
There are many ways to use different wedding poses on the big day. As mentioned above you will want to shoot an engagement session and speak openly with the bride and groom before to understand their desires and ideas.
But here are some of the most popular wedding photography poses that most brides will love on their wedding day. Try to choose three to five for one wedding and never try to shoot all on one wedding day. This will take forever and leave the bride and groom exhausted missing their cocktail hour.
The First Look
This is the biggest pose I push for for as a wedding photographer. I always remind my brides that it’s nice to have that intimate alone moment with the groom before all eyes are on them and they have to spend the rest of the day chatting with guests leaving little one on one time for the rest of the day.
The first look is intimate and brings many grooms to tears. You are guaranteed to have a genuine reaction from both the bride and groom and capture one of the most important wedding photos of the day.
Holding Hands Side by Side
You may see this pose a lot in wedding photography. Why? Because it’s simple and it works. Have your couple stand side by side by simply holding hands. They can look away from each other or at each other but the most important thing is that we can see both of their beautiful outfits and create a simplistic photo while evoking emotion.
Have the groom wrap his arms around the bride’s waist as she slightly tips her head down for a forhead kiss. Most grooms are taller than the brides so this works well. But if your bride is a bit taller than the groom you may want to skip this as it can quickly become awkward and not one of the best moments in the wedding albums.
Facing Each Other
This wedding pose is great for every couple. Have the groom and bride face each other with their arms wrapped around the back of their partner. You can have them tell each other a secret while you take photos and don’t get in the middle of their conversation. Have the bride look at you while the groom kisses her cheek for a variation of this shot.
You can also have them almost kiss while facing each other which will create a delicate love shot. Make sure their feet are close together and they aren’t falling over trying to hold their partner.
The kiss is the classic and one of the favorite wedding poses for photographers. It’s simple, tell the couple to kiss. You can change your composition by getting further away and bringing in some natural scenery or get in super close while their hands are wrapped around each other and their kiss transports them to another place.
The best way to get this wedding pose to work is to tell a joke. Be funny! Keep things light and playful. Or if you are not feeling very funny, you can tell the bride and groom to give their best fake laugh. Tell them to laugh as hard and as fake as possible then have your camera ready. Almost every time, the couple will feel silly, and this fake laugh will turn into real laughter leaving their faces illuminating with pure joy while you snap the best couple photography of the day!
Take a Walk
Telling the couple to take a walk is one of the top wedding poses because it’s simple and classic. If the bride is wearing a long dress, ask the groom to carry it from behind. You will want to get further back for this pose so you can capture their venue in the background.
This works especially well for large landscapes such as beaches, mountains, or a castle. One other way to shoot this is to move in close and snap lots of angles as they slowly walk towards you, you can back away from them as they move creating movement in your images.
Photographers love using the spinning poses on brides. This is especailly beautiful when the bride has a long veil. Have the bride pickup her dress and give you a little spin as the veil whirls around her. This pose creates an artistic wedding pose your bride will surely love. Make sure she is careful not to trip over her own feet while twirling. Have her let her arms go freely when possible for a light and airy feeling.
Over the Shoulder
Have your wedding couple face away from you holding hands. Then ask the bride to look back over her shoulder at the camera as the groom looks at her. This is a classic modern pose that tops our list of ideas because it’s easy to create and use at most any wedding. The more the bride twists the thinner she will appear as well, which all woman love!
What wedding photography would be complete without the first dance wedding pose. This pose is fun because you can tell your couple to practice their first dance before everyone is watching and judging them. It creates an intimate moment and a pose that brings tears to the couple’s eyes. Each image you snap while they sway will most likely be a keeper.
Make sure you pose your couple before they cut into the cake. Most wedding photographers know this is a shot that all couples will want, but usually the couple forgets to strike a pose and look at the camera before cutting in. So don’t forget to give more photography guidance on this and remind them just before to look at you and smile or kiss! Take lots of photos after too because at most weddings they usually end up smearing a litte on their partners face.
This photo is a favorite for me as a photographer because it always makes the bride giggle and smile. To make this wedding pose work ask the groom to lift the bride up under her butt so he has a firm grip on her and doesn’t drop her! Have the bride wrap her arms around his neck and hold on tight as she flies into the air. If you want to add a variation to this wedding photography consider having the groom spin as he holds her. This will get the veil flying around as you snap your photos.
For this wedding, pose ask the bride to take the groom’s hand and guide him away from the camera. Ask them to walk slowly as you trail behind. You will want to go wide on this shot and even ask the bride to look over her shoulder back at the groom and the photographer as they walk slowly and chat about their big day. The more photos you take here, the better.
The stacked photography pose is a favorite among posing couples. Have the groom stand behind the bride and wrap his arms around the top of her shoulders. Make sure he relaxes his elbows and arms just above her chest. Or you can switch this pose and have the bride stand behind the groom and have her wrap her arms around his waist or shoulders as they snuggle faces creating a timeless image.
You may be surprised by how many couples have never dipped before! Make sure you explain this pose well before snapping your photo. Have the groom put his hands firmly only her lower back as she wraps her arms around his neck and he gently dips her backwards. Add a kiss for an even better pose.
More Must-Have Wedding Poses
- Bride with bridesmaids getting ready.
- Bride’s bouquet.
- Any jewelry that the bride will be wearing.
- Wedding dress before the bride is wearing it.
- Mother of the bride helping bride prepare.
- Groom getting ready.
- Father of the Bride seeing his daughter in her wedding dress.
- Mother of Groom pinning on flowers.
- Ceremony site before the guests arrive.
- Details at the ceremony site.
- Reception venue.
- Any and all little details at the reception venue.
- Ring shots.
- Food, cake, table settings.
- Wide ambiance shot of the reception
- Grandparents dancing.
- Getaway car.
Often times I need to coach the couples on where to stand and pose, in order to get the best shots. Also, I often need a second shooter to make sure I get shots of the reception site before the guests arrive, and to help capture lots of important shots in between. The point is, it helps to have a plan, a cohesive guide of shots you already know you will get before you arrive. Make sure you pick the right wedding gear and pack the night before as well.
It is reassuring to know that you can get through the day, and leave feeling confident you captured all the important moments of the wedding. So before you head out to shoot that next wedding, sit down and make a list of wedding poses and photos you absolutely know you should take, and I promise, the panic will be so much more manageable.
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