Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Wedding Party Photos

Most couples I work with have LOTS of questions about wedding parties. Everything from how many people to include, to what they should wear, to whether they need to create giant lists of all the photos that they want. Today’s post lays out all my wedding party knowledge for you, including five very important things that influence your photos in a surprising way.

In this (extra-long and info-packed) post, you’ll learn:

  1. My favorite (surprising!) wedding party photography tips

  2. My basic wedding party photo timeline

  3. Real couple Q&A: Answers to common wedding party photo questions

5 Useful and Surprising Wedding Party Tips

  1. Comfortable shoes are a big deal for photos. While I sometimes get questions about dress styles and colors, what I really wish couples would ask me about is shoes. Sometimes wedding shoes are chosen because they’re beautiful, or they match, but trust me when I say that if your attendants are miserable and uncomfortable in their shoes they’re also going to be cranky, sad and forced-looking in photos. Having reasonably comfy footwear makes a huge difference in people’s overall vibe. Also stash bandaids, just in case of blisters.

  2. Eat real food. All people should eat before a wedding. Especially if you’re toasting with cocktails or bubbles. Make sure you and your attendants get healthy(ish) lunch and fill your getting-ready space with non-messy snacks and water. Just like with the shoes, people look happy and beautiful and carefree in photos when they’re well fed and relaxed.

  3. Smile, flowers down. While walking down the aisle, people with bouquets tend to get a little nervous and carry their bouquets up high in front of their chest, annnd then it looks like you’re hiding behind your flowers. Practice carrying flowers lower than you think, usually right around your belly button.  And when you’re walking down the aisle, just repeat in your head “smile, flowers down.”

  4. Get a veil demo. Having your mom or your maid of honor put on your veil is such a sweet moment. My tip is to make sure whoever is putting in your veil gets a demo from whoever is doing the bride’s hair. Learn where the veil should go and how it should be attached. Sometimes the comb-attachments on veils are really counterintuitive and it’s always unfortunate when a veil goes flying because it wasn’t attached properly.

  5. Plan the story. Do you have special family traditions happening on the day? Are you giving your wedding party sweet gifts or momentos, do you have a best friend that you really want to celebrate with? Tell your photographer so they can help capture all those lovely moments to better tell the story of your wedding day.

My Basic Wedding Party Photo Flow

Most couples I chat with want a good mix of posed wedding party photos and candids. Here’s how I structure the flow to capture a mix of both, and make a fun atmosphere. Depending on your priorities as a couple and how many people and locations these chapters of your wedding day include, we’ll plan an exact timeline (with times!) when we meet. While these details are structured for a hetero couple, much of this flow still works for queer partnerships.

Getting ready photos

Getting ready photos are a lovely way for you and you attendants to get comfortable being photographed. I always love how getting ready photos are full of energy and lots of candid goofiness while you hang out, maybe have a toast or a snack and lots of sweet moments with the people you care about.

Directed wedding party photos

With more posed or directed wedding party photos, my focus is on know what photos are really important to you, having those be beautiful and stress-free and then moving on quickly. No one loves standing around posing for photos, so I try and make this part really smooth. Usually I plan these for right after a bride and groom’s first-look.

  • Bridesfolk with bride

  • Groomsfolk with groom

  • Bride and groom with all attendants

  • Photos with individual attendants if desired

  • Photos with flower girl(s), ring bearer(s), ushers and personal attendants as needed.

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A little walk with the wedding party

After the posed photos, I love to spend a little time roaming around with you and your wedding party. Usually people are getting married in beautiful places and building in a little time to take a walk, explore, have a drink and just hang out together makes for a super-fun relaxed moment for you, and lots of really lovely, natural candid photos. Basically you’re having a fun pocket of time with your favorite people and I’m just along for the ride.

Real couple Q&A: Answers to Common Wedding Party Photo Questions

Couples ask: Do I need a wedding party photo checklist?

Many couples I work with have a really common misconception that they need to give me a list of every photo they want taken at their wedding. I think a few wedding-help websites let you download a generic list and couples sometimes think it’s their responsibility to plan everything out.

And, while I love that my couples are considerate and proactive, you do not need to send the list. For one really important reason: you are unique, what’s important to you is unique and there isn’t one list that fits every wedding. Your wedding day is about relationships and, as your photographer, we’ll actually sit down together to chat with you about what photos you want to have to remember your wedding day. I’ll create a list WITH you to document the people and relationships are important to you to capture and highlight.

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Couples ask: How many people should I have in my wedding party? Do both partners’ sides need to be even?

I believe you should have all the people in your wedding party that you want to be with you on your wedding day. There’s not a magic number that looks especially good in photographs and your photographer will be able to capture amazing photos whether you have two attendants or twelve, whether you have matching numbers of bridesfolk and groomsfolk or a few more of one or the other.

What you should think about is time and the vibe you want around you on your wedding day. Big wedding parties are fun and loud and boisterous - almost like you have a party going on all around you and your partner all day long. If you have a large wedding party everything can take a little more time, and is a little more complicated; there are more people to coordinate in photos, more people to wrangle and transport and, if you happen to have a large group of attendants, definitely chat with your photographer so that you plan enough time so that photos are relaxed and stress-free. By contrast, smaller wedding parties are calmer, more intimate. They’re not as complex to coordinate and just create a completely different vibe. So think about how you want to feel on your wedding day and let your photographer help you plan the right timing.

Couples ask: What about mixed-gender or gender non-conforming wedding parties?

I think strict “ladies on the bride’s side, men on the groom’s side” wedding parties are a thing of the past. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier. Having some bridesmen or groomsmaids, or a whole group of folx up stand up with you on your wedding day is rad. As your photographer, I want to make sure that everyone looks beautiful and has a relaxed time no matter what. So don’t stress.

Couples ask: What should we do about kids in the wedding party?

For couples that have a small person joining the wedding party, maybe a ring bearer or a flowergirl, my advice is always to (as much as you can) plan around the kid’s schedule. Especially if you’ve got super-little ones or toddlers involved, have a chat with parents about their routines and naptimes so that you can set them up for success. Trust me, skipping a two-year-old’s nap so they can be in photos is a recipe for a sad, crying baby - not fun.

Generally I recommend to group together any photos that little ones will be in, so they can take 3 or 4 photos all in a burst and then go play! Also, special, non-messy snacks are a must to keep toddlers engaged.

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That my big huge list of wedding party tips and tricks. Have a question I didn’t answer about wedding parties? Feel free to reach out on my contact page.

Alyssa L-K