Knowing how to pose for wedding photos will help couples look picture-perfect in every shot, but the concept of posing may sound nerve-wracking. Brides and grooms already have enough to think about on their wedding day—now we’re adding posing to the mix?
Fear not: Wedding photographer Mikkel Woodruff says the trick to posing for wedding photos is to hardly pose at all. “The digital age allows us to take more images, which means we can encapsulate those candid moments in a beautiful way, more like photojournalism,” she says. “We want shots that aren’t forced, so I see myself as the art director of the day. I’ll gauge whether or not my couple needs more or less guidance.”
Meet the Expert
Mikkel Woodruff is a luxury and destination wedding photographer based on the East Coast.
Tips for Posing Naturally
Throughout her wedding photography career, Woodruff has noticed a few areas her couples need help with when it comes to posing naturally. One of the most frequent issues? Ending a candid, natural moment too soon. “I tell my couples if they’re inclined to do something or move in a natural way, don’t stop,” she says. “So much of the time I have couples smiling and laughing perfectly, and then they remember I’m there and stop to make sure they’re in the right position. Just keep going! If you don’t look good, the photographer should tell you.”
Another question Woodruff gets asked all the time is “Where should I put my arms?” While acting natural is essential for wedding photography poses, Woodruff says there are some dos and don’ts for arm placement—and yet again, it all comes down to relaxing. “Don’t press your arms against your body,” she says. “If the bride wants to hold her bouquet, she should keep her arms relaxed and elongated. Pressing her elbows tightly into her body could make her arms less flattering.”
For group shots with arms around each other, Woodruff says to keep the arms low and around the waist, not shoulders—which leads to stretched and stressed fabric.
Candid photos that capture personality are ideal, but producing those gorgeous, natural poses like laughing in a garden or giggling under the sunset may seem unattainable. Woodruff has some more silly tricks that work for nearly all of her couples. “If it’s discreet, do a little butt squeeze, the laughs from that are amazing,” she says. “Or, try looking in your partner’s eyes for 20 seconds straight. Inevitably one of you will start laughing! Or, my favorite: Think of a secret—dirty or clean—and whisper it in your partner’s ear. This one works splendidly.”
Wedding Pose Mistakes to Avoid
Most wedding pose mistakes come down to the couple acting stiff and unnatural. That’s why wedding photographers and videographers tell the couple to pretend they’re not there—but that’s easier said than done. So what are some easy fixes to pose naturally with cameras snapping?
- Close-eyed kissing: Kissing with open eyes is hardly natural, but couples nervously adopt this style on the wedding day. The photographer should remind you about this, Woodruff says, but when in doubt kiss naturally.
- Too much kissing: That said, it’s not a make-out session. “We want neat and clean kisses,” Woodruff says. “Also, turn your head enough so you’re not squishing your partner’s nose in. If it feels like you’re squishing, you probably are.”
- Moving too fast: Walking photos look great for couples and the larger bridal party, but you need to tread slowly. “It’s not a race,” Woodruff says. “So many times the wedding party ends up walking way ahead. Just slow down and interact with each other.”
- Practicing too much: Brides and grooms may want to perfect their smiles before the wedding day, but Woodruff recommends spending that time elsewhere. “Don’t practice smiling because then you’ll overthink it,” she says. “I can tell when couples have tried to practice their smiles, and they end up looking too self-conscious.”
- Not telling the photographer your preferences: If you have any insecurities or you have a side you prefer, tell the photographers. “It could be a height difference, a particular side you like photographed, or insecurities about, say, your arms or your stomach,” Woodruff says. “Be vocal about this with your photographer beforehand, then you both can be more successful with the final product.”
Ahead, we've highlighted popular wedding photo poses to consider for your big day.
Admiring the Dress
Brides spend months and years (some even a lifetime!) waiting to wear that perfect dress. That’s why photographers love capturing her admiring the wedding gown moments before putting it on.
Finishing the Vows
While there are plenty of must-have getting-ready shots to capture, we find photos of the to-be-weds finishing up their vows particularly sentimental. Plus, they're a great way to snap the getting-ready outfit without being too obvious.
Putting On Earrings
When the big day finally arrives, you won't want to miss a single detail. This particular pose is a creative action shot that focuses on the major accessories whether that's the earrings and engagement ring or heirloom bracelets and intricate bridal henna.
Slipping On the Shoes
Who amongst us doesn't believe a single pair of shoes can change their lives? (We can thank Cinderella for that one.) While you may not think a shot of you putting on your shoes is particularly noteworthy, photographers employ this angle to capture the footwear and get a fresh perspective of the dress details.
Buttoning Up the Suit
The quintessential buttoning-of-the-jacket pose is everywhere from red carpets to wedding aisles. And for good reason, the motion showcases the watch and cufflinks without getting too granular.
Tying the Bow Tie
When it comes to the groom, photographers love capturing key moments during wedding prep like tying the tie. Similar shots include lacing shoes and fastening the watch.
Looking Down at the Bouquet
Reverently peering down at the bridal bouquet is a pose you'll surely want to bookmark. Not only is it a beautiful moment, but it also shows off the eye makeup while appearing to be entirely candid.
Capturing the Train
If you sprung for the dramatic train, you'll definitely want to show it off. Instead of completely turning your back to the camera, angle yourself with a demure glance over the shoulder to add dimension and highlight both the bouquet and your profile.
Showing Off the Veil
Similarly, a grandiose veil should never go unnoticed—or unphotographed. Position yourself just so, with the light filtering through the fine material (for glow) and your arms billowing it out for extra shape.
The First Look
The wedding-day first look is one of the most important photographs, but couples shouldn’t even think about the photographer at all. Instead, let the moment unfold while truly embracing the emotions (tears and all) knowing the photographer will capture every detail along the way.
A Kiss on the Temple
One of the most photogenic kisses is a soft peck on the temples. Photographers commonly ask for at least a handful of these sweet poses during portrait photo sessions.
Wedding dresses look beautiful from every angle, but they really come to life while twirling. In this pose, the bride twirls around, almost like a ballerina. The final photograph is dazzling and full of movement.
For added dimension (and a hint of Disney-princess dreaminess), let your partner in on the fun. The shot of them spinning you around will create a playful scene that captures the dress in motion.
Jumping Into Each Other's Arms
Looking for more action? Have your partner literally sweep you off your feet. The endeavor will not only offer a whole new angle but also evoke some laughs. Note: You don't have to take a running start (à la Dirty Dancing) for this one.
Candid laughter always looks great on camera. Photographers tend to recommend these moments most during prep time but also during couple and wedding party portraits.
The Wind-Blown Veil
Whether it’s a windy day or not, photographers will want to capitalize on that gorgeous veil with a few creative poses that position it as a frame around you. Many photographers will have their assistant raise then drop the veil as the couple steals a kiss for an editorial shot worthy of any cover.
The Subtle Glance
Wedding photographers love to capture a subtle glance at the camera. Expect this photogenic pose throughout the day, from prep to couple photos, as well as bridal portraits.
The Forehead Kiss
Just like the temple kiss, a sweet forehead kiss is always a romantic favorite. The sentimental shot also serves to capture any dress or hair details from the back.
Face To Face
Depending on your personal love language and affection style, touching faces with your partner is either going to feel sort of funny or as natural as can be. But trust us, once you get into it the tender nuzzle of this iconic wedding shot will be completely organic.
A Playful Neck Kiss
While super-lusty neck kisses can be a tad cringe, this playful peck has us smiling from ear to ear. We can see why this bride is practically swept off her feet.
The Sweet Embrace
A tight hug has the ability to pull at our heartstrings and convey more raw emotion than any lip lock. Depending on the angle, this can also be a coy way of showing off an intricate bridal hairstyle from the back.
Getting Lost in Each Other's Eyes
Whether guided by your photographer or naturally pulled in, locking eyes with your partner may leave you completely entranced. It doesn't matter if you're standing still or in motion, the shot is always one for the books.
Leaning In for a Kiss
Once eye contact has been made, you'll probably find yourselves naturally inclined to kiss. Just lean into it—literally! Maybe even kick a foot up for added vintage pizzazz.
The Anticipation Shot
It's all about the buildup. As you get closer and closer to touching lips, an entire story of emotion is played out on your faces. The best wedding photographers are quick on the shutter speed to capture every chapter as it unfolds.
The Passionate Smooch
Houston, we have contact. Whether in an intimate, private moment or surrounded by onlooking guests, sharing a passionate kiss with your partner is a wedding-photo must. Don't try to stage it or recreate something you've seen. Just let it flow naturally for a memory that's true to you.
Holding hands and walking toward a new future together is a metaphor not lost on wedding photographers. These brides replicate the pose from the side while another iteration is having one partner, slightly in front of the other, leading their spouse toward the camera.
What's cuter than a shot of you whispering sweet nothings in each other's ears? While these candid moments are totally endearing, we've heard plenty of anecdotes of couples following the photographer's instructions and reciting silly sentences on cue.
The Dramatic Dip
The pure drama of a cinematic dip is difficult to top. Have your partner spin you around before bending into a romantic kiss with a flourish. If you're sporting a substantial train, have the photographer or an assistant smooth it around you for a sweeping effect.
Wrapped In Your Partner's Arms
Thanks to forever haunting awkward prom photos, the back-to-front embrace has garnered quite the negative stigma. These newlyweds, however, illustrate just how tender and natural (read: unforced!) the pose can be.
Dance Like No One Is Watching
While it may be difficult to forget that there's a photographer in your midst, it's nice to get lost in the moment and relish each other's company. Perhaps you'll find yourselves dancing to a silent tune that only you know.
The stroll captures some of the most intimate moments between the couple. This pose works everywhere from a street to a field, and it looks just as great in photos as it does in the wedding video.