The Dos and Don'ts of Wedding Photography Poses

We spoke to several professional wedding photographers to get their take on what the best and worst wedding picture poses are, as well as their insider tips on how to get the best photos.

By Anni Irish

The Dos and Don'ts of Wedding Photography Poses
Photo by Althea Garden Photography

It's perfectly natural to feel a little uncomfortable in front of the camera, but on your wedding day you’ll want every click of the camera shutter to capture you and your new spouse looking your best, as well as documenting the beautiful venue that you’ve chosen and your overjoyed guests celebrating your love. Planning for this moment may feel overwhelming, but part of getting those memorable shots is also knowing how to pose. To ensure that you have a wedding album filled with gorgeous prints to cherish for years to come, there are a few things that you can do to make your wedding day posing both normal and natural.

Keep in mind, when it comes to getting all those great photographs, the most important task is hiring a photographer who can deliver on the aesthetic that you’re going for on your big day, while making you and your partner feel comfortable. When working with someone that you feel at ease with, the images that he or she captures will reflect that mutual respect and comfort.

We spoke to several professional wedding photographers to get their take on what the best and worst wedding picture poses are, as well as their insider tips on how to get the best photos. Here's what they had to say:

Dos: Finding the Best Photographer for You

First and foremost, before you consider poses and location, finding the best photographer for your big day is one of the most important parts of wedding planning. There are a lot of details to consider when looking for a photographer, including: similar aesthetic to the one that you envision for your wedding pictures, a budget-friendly price, local to your area, and a respectful personality. Depending on your situation, other factors may come into play, but these are some of the larger elements to keep in mind.

So, where do you begin on your wedding photographer search? First, do some research on some prospective photographers for the job. Look at their portfolios online, as well as their Instagram accounts. If possible, try to talk to friends and/or family who have worked with them, as you can get some helpful suggestions as to what they experienced, plus they can show you their wedding day gallery images. From there you may want to reach out and schedule a time to speak with them via phone or in person.

“Take time to get to know them and see if you can feel comfortable just talking to them. A photographer really is an artist to help draw out your love for each other and be able to capture your wedding day well,” said Lumalia Emmy Armstrong, photographer and owner of Celebrate Again.

Dos and Donts Wedding Poses Celebrate Again Photo Credit // Celebrate Again

A photographer is someone who will work incredibly closely with you and your partner, as well as your family and friends, therefore finding someone you are comfortable with is key. By meeting either virtually or in person this can give you a clearer idea of what they are like and how their personality meshes with yours. Owner and Creative Director of Tulieve Photography Medhi Genest suggests setting up an engagement session prior to the big day so that you can get a sense of how you will work together. This time will help you determine if the photographer is a good fit, plus it will help you practice for the wedding.

Another important factor to consider during your search for the perfect photographer is how much he or she charges for their services. The old saying you get what you pay for is true, and while it may be tempting to go with the cheapest option, this could end up costing you more in the end. Allowing more wiggle room in your budget for photos will be worth it so that you’re able to get exactly the kind of photos that you want. “Consider how important photography is to you and set a realistic budget. How upset would you be if your wedding photos were missing or mediocre? If the photos are important to you, plan to spend more than the average price of wedding photography in your area,” said N'neka Scruggs, photographer and owner of Images by N'neka based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Dont's: What to Avoid in Preparation of Your Wedding Photo Shoot

A huge part of getting great wedding day photos is preparation. To ensure that you get the best photos possible, here are some things to avoid doing:

  • Not trusting your photographer. You want to work with someone that will not only capture the best images, but who will also make you and your SO feel comfortable.
  • Drinking too much beforehand. The camera doesn't lie, and while it is a celebratory day, one thing that you and your guests want to avoid is drinking too much. Let the focus be on your special day and, if needed, ask your friends and family to be respectful of that to ensure that you’re able to get beautiful images of your guests looking their best.
  • Not discussing locations and planning the necessary travel time. Communication is key, so try to be as clear as you can in terms of what you need, what the photographer needs, and what information your wedding party needs, so as to avoid people being late, or missing gorgeous outdoor lighting like golden hour.
  • Rushing too much. With so much going on during your wedding day it's easy to get swept up in everything, but try to take some time away with your partner to really enjoy the moment as you build your new life together.
  • Not having the right kind of shoes. If you’re planning to shoot photos in a few different locations and you don't plan ahead, your feet may begin to ache (especially if you’re wearing heels or uncomfortable shoes). Be sure to pack an extra pair of comfy shoes so that you have all your bases covered.
Images by N'neka Dos aand Donts wedding Poses Photo Credit // Images by N'neka

Do: Be Natural

While this may be easier said than done, one of the best things that you can do in front of the camera is to act and pose naturally. The more you act like yourself, the closer the images will mirror this and capture the beauty of the day.

“As a photographer, the more you can give your couples permission to be themselves the more they will feel confident with you there. It's really never about asking anyone to do anything, [but] more about helping them be themselves with you around” Armstrong said. “Really engag[e] with them as people, start a simple conversation first, giv[e] them space to feel like they are hanging out with a friend versus someone with a camera,” she added.

When it comes to putting couples at ease to get the perfect shot, Scruggs also has a similar approach. “Don't worry about performing for the camera. Focus on your new spouse [and] the moment. A skilled photographer will guide you in posing, but the best photos are from genuine emotions.”

Relying on your photographer’s expertise is important, and a good one will help guide you to get the exact images that you’re after. Try to meet your photographer ahead of time, as it can help you to feel relaxed and act naturally around them. It's also important to trust them. Typically, they will ease you into the photos and will give couples simple directions—such as holding hands and walking together—to get them comfortable being behind the camera, as well as also getting them into the moment. “Trust your photographer and follow the lead. The worst thing you can do is try and be too serious about it all, or try to control every little detail, especially the weather. You won't remember all the little details of the day, but you will remember how you felt when you look back through your photos. So, just relax, have fun, and enjoy it,” said Genest.

Dos: How to Pose Naturally in Wedding Photos

Feeling confident and posing naturally in front of a camera can be difficult, as people can feel nervous and aren't sure what to do. If you’re uneasy and anxious about getting photographed for your wedding, the truth is everyone gets those jitters. There are some things that you can do to help you feel more at ease and also get gorgeous photos in the process. Here are some insider tips from veteran wedding photographers:

  • Be yourself. Being yourself is key especially when it comes to your wedding photos. You want your personality to come out in whatever form that is, so being true to who you are well really helps get the best photos you can.
  • Let the movements flow. Try to move your body in a way that feels comfortable and natural for you. Instead, try to just concentrate on what is going on in the moment and move in whatever way you see fit.
  • Try not to consider what is going on around you. It can be easy to get swept up in the moment; however, when you’re being photographed, one of the best things you can do is focus on the task at hand, and not be concerned with what is going on around you.
  • Relax and listen to your photographer. Your wedding photographer is a professional, so one of the best things that you can try to do when you’re getting your picture taken is to relax and listen to them. Try to follow their lead.
  • Feel confident in who you are as a person and couple. Confidence is one of those things that really translates in a photograph, therefore the more secure that you can feel in yourself and as a couple, the better the images will be. If you feel comfortable with one another and your photographer, the confidence will also come.
  • Don't force the moment. Try not to force what is happening in a photo. If you can take a deep breath, and really try to be in the moment, these small things will help to make a really great photograph.
  • Give yourself time to feel comfortable in front of the camera. Sometimes you just need a little more time to feel good behind the camera. It's not something that is usually instant for most people, so communicate with your photographer and let him or her know that you might want a longer warm up.

Dont's: What Poses to Avoid During the Photo Shoot

There are definitely poses that couples want to avoid for their wedding photos. You want to look back on your images and have great memories, instead of photos that make you think twice. Here are what our experts advise couples (and fellow photographers) not to do:

  • Close-eyed kissing
  • Too much kissing
  • Moving too fast
  • Practicing the posing too much
  • Not telling the photographer your preferences
  • Asking a couple to pause a special moment so that you can get a shot
  • Not giving the couple space to just be together. Oftentimes the only alone time a couple gets is when they are with their photographer. Giving them space to soak in the glorious reality of it being their wedding day can make a huge difference in their experience of working with you.
  • Walking in front of guests during their ceremony.
  • Photographing the couple from behind their ceremony (if you’re in a traditional venue).
  • Being obtrusive to their wedding day. Very talented photographers blend in throughout a couples day, but also know how to take charge when it's their time to guide couples or groups.
Lulan Wedding Photography And Videography Photo poses Photo Credit // Lulan Wedding Photography And Videography

Dos: Best Wedding Pose Ideas

When it comes to the best wedding pose ideas, there are a lot of ways to approach this. Much of what will be decided comes down to the photographer, and also what kind of photos the couple wants. Whether you’re going for a more classic look or you want something more fun and unconventional, there are countless ways to get the kind of photographs that can help make your special day be something that you will always want to look back on with a smile on your face.

For Armstrong, here are some of her go-to pose ideas when she is working with a couple:

  1. Walking or running to give each other a hug like it's the first time you’ve seen each other in a long time.
  2. The kitchen sink hug: having one partner stand relaxed and then having the other partner walk up to hug the first partner from behind.
  3. If a couple is really playful, having them pretend to frolic.
  4. Standing apart just slightly, and, if the couple feels safe, asking them to close their eyes then slowly try to feel for each other. This can add some versatility and keep them moving towards one another and also incorporate those intimate looks between one another.
  5. Sitting down while one partner sits behind and the other wraps themselves around the other. This can add a really intimate moment and also give the happy couple another candid loving moment.
  6. Giving kisses starting at the top of the head all the way down to one partner's neck. This can be done in a few different shots and make for a fun mini-segment in the wedding book.
  7. Having a couple walking hand in hand with one person leading. Doing this while also adding a pause to gaze back at each other can give it another layer. Simple elegance can really create timeless photos.
  8. One partner holding the other’s arm can really add a sweet moment for the camera.
  9. Another option is when one partner has their arms pulled in like they are cold and the other partner wraps themselves around the other.

Here are some of Gerest’s go-to wedding poses:

  1. The handhold: this is classic and also really sweet with a couple holding hands. There are also a lot of ways to set the shot up, so versatility is key.
  2. Having a couple that is strolling together is also another great option that puts them both side by side and has them moving together.
  3. When it comes to the wedding day, another classic image is when the rings are exchanged. This is a moment that you will want to remember forever, so timing is key for this one.
  4. Having a couple that is also walking down the aisle together after the ceremony and also in another location is another great option. This can be set up a few different ways and gives couples a few ways to play with it.
  5. Whether you are on the dance floor, or just had a romantic kiss, the dip is another really beautiful pose. Usually one partner is dipping another and can show a fun and lighter side of the wedding.
  6. The kiss is also a huge moment in a wedding that needs to be captured. This is a big build up in the ceremony and usually the first kiss the couple has after being officially married.
  7. The veil: The veil is a really gorgeous detail of a wedding outfit that deserves a few shots of its own. Often ornate and really danity, it can give the person wearing it a chance to really show off their outfit and this gorgeous item in another way.
  8. The nose touch: This is a really sweet moment for couples, and one that can add another beautiful image. It’s really touching and also endearing and really captures the moment.
  9. The cheek kiss: This is another great pose that can be used for multiple people. It's great for the couple getting married, but also for family and friends. It can create some really sweet moments for everyone.

Here are some of Scrugg's signature poses for couples and groups:

  1. A kiss on the forehead. This can be a really sweet moment between a couple on their wedding day. It can add a really intimate touch.
  2. A kiss on the neck or shoulder. This is another really subtle and lovely moment for the camera that can really add another beautiful moment for the couple for years to come.
  3. Walking the camera while their partner looks at them. This can have a few different versions and add some versatility while also giving each partner a chance to be in this pose.
  4. Walking towards the camera side-by-side holding hands. This is another shot that can give a couple a lot to work with depending on the setting and can be done a few different ways and at different points throughout the night.
  5. Kiss in front of the camera. This is another moment that couples don't want to miss. It can be done head on or from a different angle and also capture a beautiful memory.
  6. The first dance, if they're doing choreography. This can also be a great shot in general, but if they learned some moves it can be another thing to make sure to document.
  7. Group hugs. With wedding parties, sometimes group poses can be an issue, but a group hug is never a wrong way to go. It can really be a fun and lovely moment to get on camera and make everyone feel like they are a part of the big day.
  8. Walking towards the camera as a group. This can be another great way to capture a large group and also showcase everyone in their outfits. It can be really great to see different parts of the wedding, friends, and family this way and also lets them be part of everything going on.
  9. Freestyling their own poses. This can really give a group a chance to let their personality shine through. And it can also give people the opportunity to let loose and have some fun at your wedding in another way.
  10. Getting ready photos have become really classic and also add for some really touching moments with their friends and family. This is a great option for a lot of reasons and can give you some really versatile shots.
tulievephotography Wedding photo poses Photo Credit // Tulieve Photography
  1. Putting on shoes and also specific wardrobe items. People spend a lot of time on their wedding wardrobe, especially the dress, shoes, and suits, so why not have some photos that celebrate the overall look?
  2. Photos with wedding bouquets and flowers. Florals play a huge role in a wedding, especially when it comes to the bouquet. Taking some time to show them off, as well as really enjoying them can also add another layer to the photos and also capture other details like makeup and the big looks.
  3. Seeing one another for the first time. Usually the couple getting married won't see each other in their special outfits until the wedding, so having some photos to really take in the beauty of that moment is worth a lifetime of memories.
  4. Having candid photos of guests and the wedding party having fun. One of the most important elements of a wedding is celebrating with loved ones and family, so having photos to really commemorate that is amazing.
  5. Getting down on the dance floor. Usually at a wedding people love to bust a move on the dance floor so having some fun photos of everyone enjoying themselves and celebrating your big day will make it even more memorable.
  6. Subtle glance. Having those subtle intimate glances between one another as a couple and guests is a really go-to image for wedding photographers.
  7. The build up. Nothing says anticipation like a mounting glance. Having a few shots of a couple getting closer and closer as both faces tell the story can always make for a gorgeous shot.
  8. Having a couple whisper in one another's ear. This can be a really sweet and candid shot. It also is another way to feature the couple together in a way that is super cute and can really give you a deeper sense of them as a couple.
  9. The accessories. There are a lot of gorgeous accessories that are used at weddings from jewelry, broaches, earrings, rings, purses and more, so why not capture all the details? They are all really special items and will help you remember your wedding in another way.
  10. The décor. With all the planning that goes into a wedding, having some images that really take in all the décor, from the venue, lighting, menus, dishware and more, can also help you remember all the special details for the big day.
  11. The wedding party. The wedding party plays a huge role in the wedding, so having several shots of them together and separately also is another thing to photograph. There are lots of ways to get the group together and really get the spirit of the day on film.
  12. The family. Chosen or birth family are also VIPs at the wedding in their own way and also need to be captured. Try to have some one-on-one photos with special people in your life and also help make memories with them.
  13. The friends. Friends are also really important, so having photos that capture those special relationships are definitely ones that you want to capture at your wedding. This can be done both individually and in a group.

Photographs last a lifetime, so having ones that really document your wedding is vital. You want to look back on your big day and remember every special detail, yet also have images that really showcase your love as a couple, as well as your unforgettable day with friends and family. Finding a photographer that can do that is very important, as is doing what makes the most sense for you and your partner.

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