This year, my smallest bridal party consisted only of the bride and groom, Maid of Honor and Best Man. My largest? 22 people. Just like family portraits (did you see our feature on those? –> 6 Tips for Quick and Easy Family Portraits at a Wedding ), photos with the bridal party, no matter how big or small, rely on organization and building a sense of comfort and ease.
1. Mix it up
If you just line 12 people up and tell them to smile, you might get a decent shot, but it likely won’t be a “wow” shot. So, mix it up a little. Get your serious or “standard” ones out of the way — bride and groom in the middle, bridesmaids lined up to her side and groomsmen spreading out from him — and then switch things around a little. Alternate man-woman, man-woman, have them link arms, stagger them a bit or even form a “V” instead of a straight line.
2. Loosen up a bit
I make a fool out of myself a lot while photographing weddings, but not as much any other time of day as I do during bridal party photos. I’ve been known to jump, make faces, grab my second shooter’s arm and who knows what else, just to be silly and show what I mean. I’ve started to wrap up my standard formals with a game: I tell them I’m going to count to three and they have to do the first silly thing that comes to mind. Since they don’t consult with anyone else usually, there’s always an element of surprise and fun. People get picked up, faces are made and it’s just a fun experience that makes everyone, including me, loosen up a bit.
3. Slim it down
Definitely get your large group shots, but don’t forget about each bridal party member with the bride and/or groom. They all have a story to tell and a special bond, formed by friendship, school or even family and marriage. Just like with the group shots, I make sure to get a mix of serious and silly.
4. Keep it real
You’ve gotten your shots and you’re on to the reception. But just because they’re on the dance floor doesn’t mean you should forget about them. Their outfits help them stand out and there’s always some fun characters doing the YMCA or the conga line. Capture them watching their best friend or delivering their speech but don’t forget about them later on, too.
5. Keeping them in line
No, not like a lined up line, although that’s important, too.
Bridal parties have been some of the easiest and best people to work with but also sometimes the most difficult ones. They may not like being at the center of attention, they may have body issues etc. Whatever the case, if someone is being the one bad apple in the bunch, stay professional and courteous but remind them if you have to that it’s not about anything but making the couple — their friends — happy. And then point your finger (gently) and tell them (nicely) to get back on in there.
6. The little things and behind-the-scenes
There’s a whole section about details of the day, but the bridal party offers a lot of details and behind-the-scenes glimpses, too. It can be the bows of the flower girl’s hair, the handmade bouquet she’s given or the personalized robes or shirts they’re wearing. Have a cropped-in image of a bridesmaid holding the bouquet against her dress or a boutonniere against a lapel. It’s as much about the big groups as it is about the littlest details!
Enjoy our multi-part blog series on wedding photography:
Be sure to take a look at the entire wedding series featured at Sixth Bloom
- An engagement session to set the scene- 6 Tips for a Successful Engagement Session
- A successful day starts with a timeline – Creating a Wedding Timeline to Avoid a Disaster
- Communication and creativity with other vendors- Brilliant Ideas for Working with Wedding Vendors
- To First Look or Not to First Look- The Great Debate: A First Look or No First Look
- Must-Have Pictures of the Bride – 6 Must Have Pictures to get of the Bride
- Capturing Moments with the Groom- 5 Pictures to Capture of the Groom
- Quick and Easy Family Portraits – 6 Tips for Quick and Easy Family Portraits at a Wedding
- Keeping Bridal Party Photos Smooth and Fresh – 6 Tips to Keep Bridal Party Photos Smooth and Fresh
- All About the Little Things — Details of the Day 68 Details To Photograph at a Wedding
- Wrapping it up with kindness and care 6 Tips Photographers Need to put the Final Touch on a Wedding