Mistakes Make Magic

9 Tips for Photographing a Wedding Party

October 12, 2022

I’m Catherine.
A New Orleans based wedding photographer and educator. We are excited you are here and cannot wait to connect with you!.
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Want to know one of the parts of a wedding day that used to give me anxiety? 

Wedding parties. Have you felt the same way before?!

Thankfully, by now, I’ve become more comfortable and I don’t get those nerves anymore. But honestly, I remember what it was like to show up in front of a big group of people and have to wrangle everybody together… for the part of the day that they don’t really love. 😵‍💫

Over time, I was able to learn some tips and tricks to make the wedding party block of the day run smoothly and efficiently – and now I want to give those tips to you! 

Read on for 9 tips for photographing a wedding party.

1. Establish Yourself as the Authority

The first thing I do when I’m photographing wedding party formals is go in and establish myself as the authority. 

Now, this does not mean I go in bossing everyone around. This means I go in and kindly introduce myself!

I say something like, “Hey guys! I’m Catherine, and I’m going to be photographing your wedding party formals. Don’t worry, we’re going to be doing these really quickly and concisely, so if I could have your cooperation for the next little bit of time, we’re going to work through the formal list as soon as possible!”

When they hear I’m on their side and I’m trying to get these done as quickly as possible, it usually gets their attention and helps us move things along really fast 🐇

2. Address Everyone by Name

Rather than having to say, “Ok, you with your hair up, can you move a little bit closer to the girl next to you – the one with her hair down?” 🙈

That doesn’t sound as confident and personable as, “Ok, Tiffany, can you move a little closer to Erin?”

Something about that just seems like you know everyone, you know the group, and you’re in with the crew. The better you have learned everyone’s names, the better off you’ll be!

The way that I personally do that is when I arrive on the wedding day, the first thing I do is try to get as many names as possible. As I’m learning their names, I’m asking how they know the client. 

So for example, if Erin is the client and she introduces me to Tiffany, I’ll ask Tiffany, “So how do you know Erin?” and as she’s telling me, I’m looking at Tiffany and in my brain, I’m thinking, “Tiffany, Tiffany, Tiffany…” over and over. That way, when I see Tiffany’s face, her name is locked in my brain!🧠

3. Have a Good Understanding of Dynamics

At the final meeting with the client, which usually takes place 1-2 weeks before the wedding, I’m asking the client who is who in the wedding party.

I’m asking if there is anyone who they’re closer to, and if there’s anyone they maybe have a special relationship with who they’d like to stand closer to in the photos. 
The purpose of this is two-fold: it’s going to help you make better photos for the client, AND it’s going to help you be more confident when you’re setting up the photos, because you already understand the dynamics.

4. Make Sure the MOH is Closest to the Client

…or the matron of honor, best man, or best lady! Any of these special people should be positioned closest to the client in your photos. 

Again, before the wedding, I already have the first names of these people – and when I get there in person, I’m going to match the face of that person to their name.   

Once I have that established, anytime I’m posing – even those that are technically candid but we’re somewhat stepping in to help with – I’ll get those people closest to the client involved in those images. I guarantee, doing this will make your clients love their images! 💌

5. Know If There’s a Couple in the Wedding Party

If I’m photographing the bridesmaid and the groomsmen and if there’s a relationship between them – if they’re dating, married, or if they have children – I try to pair them together if the pose lends itself to that. 

This adds an extra dynamic in the photo, and one they’ll cherish in the end. Those small details make a BIG difference to the client and the people in the wedding party.

What you’ll begin to see – if you haven’t seen this already – is that your future clients (or maybe even your past clients) often are in the wedding party. 

That is one of the beautiful things about the referral system: you get to know not only the client, but those they love as well. 💞 

6. Know These Posing Tips

As far as positioning goes, I make sure everyone is folded in toward the center (which is going to be the couple) for that main, standard portrait. 

Things I like to do for posing include:

  • Everyone smiling and looking at the camera
  • Everyone’s bodies are angled toward the couple
  • If their hands are free, their hands are loose by their sides
  • If they’re holding bouquets, the will hold them a little bit below their waist 
  • All females bend their legs closest to the camera

This is the standard classic pose you want to make sure you get at every wedding. 

🌸Note about flowers: Make sure the bouquet’s face side is facing the camera. Typically, with an arrangement or a bouquet, there is a side that is the front. When the bridesmaids are holding their flowers, I like to make sure the front, or the pretty side, is facing toward the camera. 

🤵🏼Note about groomsmen: For the gentlemen, I like to make sure they have just the top button buttoned. If we want a more casual photo, I’ll have them unbutton and slip their hand in their pocket… but typically, for that first standard photo, I’ll have them start all buttoned up and looking their best. 🎩 

And if you want my 5 go-to wedding day couples portrait poses, you can find them here!

7. Know Your Client’s Favorite Side

Oftentimes, your client (and maybe their partner) will have a favorite side. Hopefully each member of the couple’s favorite side compliments one another… but I let them work that out among themselves. 😉 

Once we’ve established the client’s favorite side, everyone else will follow suit. Meaning, I don’t always pose people on either side of the client the exact same way… I’ll instead always prioritize the client’s favorite side and build the photo out from there.

8. Include Rather Than Exclude

If I’m ever unsure if someone – like the ushers or the house party – is included in the photo, I always include rather than exclude them in the photo. 

Now, usually I’m sure, because we’ve worked on that timeline and photo list ahead of the wedding date. But if I’m ever in doubt, it’s better to err on the side of caution. 

What do I mean by that? If there is one usher, for example, and the rest of the party are groomsmen, unless the client specifically requests that the usher not be included in the photo… I would go ahead and include them in the picture so as not to leave one person out. 

During the final meeting, if I’m asking questions about the photos and something like this comes up, I will provide encouragement and guidance to the client so they know how to avoid any potential opportunities to accidentally hurt someone’s feelings or leave them out… even if it’s not intentional 💌

9. Write Everything Down

I know I’ve said this before, but it’s just SO important! 📢 

When you’re writing a timeline/photo list of the day, make sure you write things down. I will write down first names and who they are to the client. There are a lot of moving parts on a wedding day (as you know!) and I never want to be questioning whether or not someone is the right person. 

Maybe there’s more than one person of the same name that day (maybe there are two people with the name Anna). I’ll write down Anna S. and Anna T. – just so there’s no confusion!

Get Your Posing Guide Now

When it comes to photography, it’s very easy to hurt people’s feelings. The best way we can avoid doing that is by knowing the information in advance and taking very clear and consolidated notes. 

This way, on the day of the wedding, the client doesn’t have to think. They can trust us to make sure we’re executing the proper plan and having a smooth, wonderful, joy-filled day. 🤍

Maybe as you read through this, the posing tips really resonated with you. Do you ever feel stuck or nervous trying to come up with poses on the spot? Or maybe you use the same poses over and over and need something new? 

I’ve been there… and now I’m sharing what I’ve learned to help you! My Posing Guide below will allow you to:

  • Build confidence so your clients know EXACTLY what to do
  • Have “go-to” poses to create consistent, strong images
  • Never feel stuck or on-the-spot – you’ll have a posing flow!

Check out the Posing Guide below. ⤵️

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