You’ve already sent out the requisite “Will you be my…?” gift boxes, and everyone you love has said “I do” to being part of your wedding party. Now it’s time to start envisioning what your wedding ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and more will look like—including how each moment of your special day will be captured.
In this guide, we’ll outline 10 creative wedding party photo ideas, plus tips on how to find the best wedding photographer for your personal aesthetic—and budget.
We’ll also run through best practices for seeking out other vendors, such as beauty professionals who can tackle the glam needs of your entire wedding party.
Your wedding party may include everyone from your partner’s twin sister to your own best friend from elementary school.
Photographing such a diverse group of people from different points in your lives can be tricky—there are a lot of personalities to capture. But, don’t worry, your trusty, experienced photographer (more on how to hire one of those below) will understand this photo shoots intuitively.
Check out the following 10 ideas for unforgettable wedding party photos, then relay to your photographer which poses are on your “must-have” wedding photo shot list. He or she will probably have some of his or her creative poses to try out, too.
Even if your style is more off-the-cuff and wild child than straight lines and symmetry, you may want to consider posing for one, classic symmetrical shot with the entire wedding party.
Probably best shot pre-ceremony (unless you’re doing a first look walking down the aisle), this will be a jazzed-up group photo, with the bridesmaids to one side and the groomsmen to the other, flanking the radiant stars who will stand center stage.
While you’re in position, don’t forget to show off some personality. Have both sides of the wedding party lean in slightly and look toward each other. Allow fake laughs to become real laughs, and voila, you have a stunning (and hilarious) keepsake for the books.
This can be a great way to get the wedding party to relax and have fun with each other early in the evening before the real fun begins.
This photo opp has the groomsmen and bridesmaids mixed so that you end up with a lovely portrait of contrasting colors, patterns, and friends.
The “bride looking back pose while the wedding party walks ahead” is fairly traditional, but that certainly doesn't make it trite. This can be a great opportunity to bring out the personality of the bride, letting her revel in all the love and joy around her before she heads to the altar.
When in doubt, seek out the nearest set of stairs. Stairs bring depth to a photo, offering some contrast to the traditional symmetrical look. This can be an opportunity for a posed-candid, with the wedding party slung casually against the steps, with elbows propped and bodies turned towards each other like they’re mid-way through a hilarious anecdote, or it can be kept classy—the choice is yours.
Note: When it comes to aesthetically symmetrical photography, stairs can help even the playing field for wedding party members of all different heights. Have your wedding party arranged from tallest to shortest, with the shortest individuals higher up on the staircase.
Depending on your style and the style of your photographer, you may want to set up your wedding party for some posed shots—think of a poster of your favorite adventure saga or romantic drama.
This artsy arrangement may involve the bridesmaids sitting seriously to one side, peeking over the shoulder of their bride while the groomsmen linger moodily to the corner behind the groom. Think “Sopranos,” but more wedding-friendly.
Having your wedding party rally around you and your partner as you share a kiss is another great photo opportunity that can be sweet and sentimental (although it’s also a great option for a silly photo). Your wedding party can look at you in awe, or they can whoop and holler behind you, throwing up bouquets.
Who doesn’t love a good (moderately posed) moving shot? Most experienced wedding photographers have mastered the fine art of walking backward, which they’ll put to good use to capture this shot.
As you and your crew make your way to or from the ceremony, or perhaps from cocktail hour to the reception, have your shutterbug capture everyone walking in stride, smiling big with the sun soft behind you.
There will be plenty of cheering throughout the day, from the time everyone starts getting ready with mimosas to the end of the evening when Uncle Joe becomes a mixologist.
Before your friends break off into separate huddles on the dancefloor, have your photographer get one epic wedding toast with every member of the party raising a glass.
Photographers love candid moments, but they also love a solid, pre-planned action shot.
Before or after the ceremony, consider having the wedding party come together with the bride, groom, or an expert saber-popping a bottle of bubbly.
If you want to throw in one more classically inspired shot for good measure, have your photographer capture a wide-angle shot of the entire wedding party bidding adieu to the happy, newly married couple.
Now that we’ve covered how you should photograph your fun-loving group, let’s delve into who should make up your illustrious wedding party. Keep in mind, the size and scope of your wedding party are entirely up to you. Just because you have 20 first cousins who live within a 15-mile radius of you doesn’t mean that you have to include every single person in your ceremony.
Typically, couples will want to include their best friends and any dear family members. Don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings when you’re deciding who to include in your wedding party—think about who will best support you and bring the best energy to the day.
Let’s look at some of the traditional roles within the wedding party, what these individuals are expected to do on your big day, and how to incorporate them into your photoshoot:
Maid (or man) of honor: The best friend and confidante extraordinaire of the bride holds an all-important position in the wedding party. This person is typically someone who has already played a key role in wedding planning up to the actual day of the nuptials. You’ll want him or her by your side for the wedding party photos.
Best man (or best woman): The best man is the groom’s equivalent to the maid of honor. This individual can also be a man or woman and will have already played a vital role in getting the groom from the bachelor party to the tuxedo fitting and, lastly, to the altar. On the day of the wedding, the best man will likely have a speech ready to give at the reception. As the maid of honor, he or she will be integral in your wedding party photos.
Bridesmaids: It’s 2021, you can have a dozen bridesmaids or zero—the choice is yours. Bridesmaids can also be men or women, it depends on who your closest loved ones are. Bridesmaids will often help the maid of honor to plan pre-wedding events such as showers and weekend getaways, and will likely chip in financially for anything the bride needs (such as day-of mimosas). Ensure that you plan a dedicated photo with each bridesmaid to show your appreciation of his or her love and support through the ages.
Groomsmen: The groomsmen are the groom’s closest allies. They assist the best man with planning the bachelor party, and on the day of the wedding, they’ll often serve as ushers, if need be. Be sure to plan a groom and groomsmen photo shoot while the groom is suiting up to capture this iconic friendship.
When the day of the wedding is upon you, you’ll want to ensure that you booked enough time for you and your wedding party to have their photoshoot. Create your perfect agenda and then share it with all your wedding guests on your wedding program. Zola makes it easy to customize your agenda to your exact needs, which means including “wedding party photoshoot time” on your programs.
Unless you’re headed to city hall, you probably have at least half a dozen vendor decisions to make. These may include:
Different couples have different priorities, and you’ll want to discuss which wedding vendors you’re willing to spend the most effort finding and money on before you launch an active search.
If capturing high-quality wedding party photos is of utmost importance to you, you’ll probably want to prioritize both a photographer and a beauty professional (so that everyone looks and feels their best).
These days it seems that everyone is a photographer.
From your 13-year-old neighbor who went viral on TikTok to your retired uncle who is rediscovering a passion for film photography, there’s a self-proclaimed photographer everywhere you turn.
The very best professional photographers and professional wedding photographers are not a dime a dozen, though. The stunning spreads you see in glossy magazines were not shot by an amateur, they were shot by an artist who knows exactly what they’re doing.
To find the best photographer to meet your wedding day needs, consider the following:
Ask your friends: Chances are that you know someone who has gotten married recently or someone who has hired a pro to shoot their budding food service business or dog washing gig. Your friends can be honest with you about their experience, as well as what they thought of as far as the pricing—was it fair? Would they use this photographer again?
Stalk Instagram: Social media can be a rabbit hole, we know, but this is one time when you can let yourself get lost for hours scrolling through your favorite accounts. Start by using the Explore function to search hashtags, from #weddingphotography to more specific designations, such as “wedding photography in ___ city.” You can also use other vendors as a launching point, looking at who has been tagged in photos at your wedding venue, using your caterer, or wearing a gown from the local bridal shop where you purchased yours.
Use Zola’s vendor search: Zola is the matriarch of meet-cutes. She wants to help couples and professionals make a meaningful connection so that wedding bliss can be a reality for people on both sides of the aisle. Zola’s easy-to-use, free vendor search allows couples to plug in when and where they’d like to get married, plus what their style is and how to choose your wedding photographer (laid-back versus direct, for example).
Settle on a style: Once you’ve narrowed down some top professionals in your area, the final piece of the photographer puzzle is determining which photography style makes your heart flutter. If you aren’t sure how to describe what you like (“I’ll know it when I see it”), don’t worry, we’ve fleshed out some of the most popular styles, and the names they go by, below.
Professional photographers take their craft very seriously. Just as you wouldn’t commission a sculptor to sketch you a graphic novel, you wouldn’t ask a photojournalistic photographer to capture strictly traditional photos at your wedding.
While some pros dabble in a few different styles, be sure to ask your photographer candidates what their experience and comfort level is with each style before hiring.
Some of these styles include:
Photojournalistic: Think of photojournalistic wedding photos as “National Geographic,” but with finely dressed humans as the subjects instead of roving wildlife. If you want pure, raw, unfiltered emotion and action captured on your wedding day, this is the style for you.
Fine art: This style of photography is often shot using film, which gives the resulting photos a grainy quality. These photos can be highly composed and dramatic, which may be exactly what you’re looking for, especially if you want to hang these photos on your wall like pieces of... fine art. Keep in mind that film will often cost your photographer much more to shoot and process, which may be reflected in their pricing unless a film is a passion and they decide to use it no matter the cost.
Traditional: If you want hundreds of shots of your wedding party, bridal portraits, family portraits, ceremony photos, and living-it-up-on-the-dance-floor shots sent to you after your wedding, traditional photography is the style for you. Your photographer will probably have a stable of poses in mind and will have a plan to capture everyone from every angle.
Natural light: Natural light photography, as the name implies, uses the soft light provided by Mother Nature to reflect the warm glow you’re feeling on your special day. This style is best reserved for outdoor weddings taking place while the sun is up, or setting. If your reception will kick off in the dark of night, be sure to ask you are natural light photographer if they’re willing to use some artificial light to capture the antics on the dancefloor.
Finding a beauty professional who can handle the various needs of your wedding party should certainly be on your list of vendor considerations. With Zola’s vendor search, you can narrow down the makeup and hair artists in your area by:
If you’re set on treating your entire wedding party to hair and makeup services, you can determine who is available and at what price far in advance of your wedding day, helping you to move around the rest of your budget, if needed.
Capturing the personalities of your entire wedding party may be one of the most memorable aspects of your wedding day. Your expert photographer will likely have an arsenal of tried-and-true wedding party photos that he or she wants to stage, and you can always coordinate with him or her to include poses that you’ve researched and fallen in love with.
Here at Zola, we want wedding planning to be a breeze. We know you’ll still have a few headaches and hiccups here and there—nothing’s ever foolproof—but we're here to walk you through every high and low that you may experience in advance of your big day.
With Zola’s free and easy-to-use tools, such as the vendor search, and our resource guides, such as the Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist & Timeline, we hope to set our couples and the professionals they hire up for success.
Ready to make Zola part of your wedding party?