The wedding is coming closer. “The big day,” as the postie, milkman and Aunt Beryl call it, is upon you. Are you intent on keeping posey poses to a minimum? We would all love to just let spontanaity dictate the outcome with fresh and fancy-free candids on our wedding day. The truth is, even the most relaxed of compositions require some level of design and set-up.

Many years ago, a couple approached with a request for a “natural” portfolio for their “casual” wedding. No, no, absolutely no posing, no family sets, don’t tell me to look this way or that, don’t ask us to think of how we feel about each other while we stand at the entrance to lover’s lane, we want nothing but the moment by moment action taken from a voyeuristic distance (or up a tree if there happens to be one in the vicinity).

While at first it sounded like an auteurs dream, the practicalities of it made for some interesting, shall we say… situations. I’m terribly sorry, but I have to say that unless you get married under the clothes line in your tracky dacks, there is no such thing as a casual wedding.  Furthermore, your family, whether they show it or not, will be disappointed if they don’t get the formal, annual-team-shotesque family portraits for their mantle piece. It’s tradition. Do you really want to mess with it? Another thing – and very few of us are an exception to this matter of fact – is that not everyone is naturally photogenic. Hiring a photographer to capture you in your best light doesn’t have to make you a fashion victim, so find one whose portfolio appeals to you and put your trust in them.

Documentary style photographic work for weddings is a beautiful thing if done faithfully and stylishly. But even the Christian Oth’s of the industry  (who, might we add,  happens to invoice his clients a paltry 30 grand for the “casual” captivity of the action) have their ways of gently manipulating the outcome.

Without a certain sort of nudging, there will be something missing in your final album. No handsome, suave shots of the groom doing his best ‘blu steel’  before the curtain call; no efflorescent shots of the bride and her “simple” ($60 billion dollar) bouquet of hyacinths –  floral and fecund – staring down the barrel of the lens while the anticipation on her face – the very final shot before marriage becomes her –  is captured. No actual record of the entire bridal party convalescing in a quiet spot while bride and groom steal away for a little kissy wiss.

While preparations, ceremonies, congratulatory moments and bridal waltzes are best left unposed, the formal shots of the bride and groom, their family portraits and bridal party shots necessitate (at the very least) some direction.

Your wedding album will benefit significantly from a little pre-planning and the talent of an experienced photographer, who can bring the best out in you as a couple and as a party of friends and family. Formal shots don’t always have to be stiff, buckram, old-worlde reminders of how much everyone hates being in a school photo line up. In fact, some of the best formal shots you’II find appear completely impromptu – they just needed a little help getting there by a photographer who knows the difference between this angle, that angle and understands how the subject matters relate to each other.

Here are some insider tips to help you pre-visualise the outcome and to start thinking about what will be required of you on the day during the private location shoots.

Brides look best when shot with their bodies angled to the side (rather than front on). This naturally occurs during photos with the groom in an embrace, however for group or solo portraits, try to remember that you will look your best with your body angled to the side.

Try not to talk during your portraits. Talking can distort facial expressions – not a good look, really. People not used to being photographed often tend to get nervous and crack jokes or talk nervously to each other. Best to relax and smile (or gaze whimsically into the foreground)… Did you see that fly buzz by? Wasn’t it dreamy?

It looks best when arms aren’t pressed to their side (particularly when wearing an off the shoulder gown which emphasizes the shoulders). To avoid having “Oh no! Why didn’t my bridesmaids tell me I have such fat arms!” syndrome, keep your arms firmly on your bouquet, away from the body or rest your hand on your hips or behind your back.

Practice makes perfect.  Consider having a look at these signature poses and practicing a few of them with your fiancé and a mirror.

Signature Pose #1

I love this one. Groom’s embrace from behind. Bride’s arms slightly poised, cradling long-stemmed flowers. Both leaning against the wall with their shoulders and leaning cheek to cheek, just like the song.

Signature Pose #2

This one is particularly romantic and is often shot from afar. Bride and groom facing each other. Groom’s arms around her waist. Bride’s arms tucked into his, holding her bouquet. A little kiss and its all awwwwww.

Signature Pose #3

The boys love this one, it makes them look tough and suave. All you need is a chair. Straddle if necessary.

Signature Pose #4

Bride and groom look at each other while the photographer shoots from behind the “love seat.” His arm leaning around her on the seat and flowers slightly in view.

Signature Pose #5

This one’s a little bit Gone With The Wind dramatic, but when else in your life can you do it? He sweeps her over, back arched. His arms around her waist, supporting her, while the bride places her arms on his back. He leans in to kiss her neck.

Signature Pose #6

This one is a gorgeous shot, the “doorway darling”. One arm raised, the other, pressing the door. Tilt head to the side and look down. Looks great as a long shot with the full dress view as well.

Signature Pose #7

Sigh! A few steps apart, hold hands and lean forward from the waist up for a delicate kiss.

Signature Pose #8

Both groom’s arms around her waist with the bride’s hand on his back. She looks downward to the side in front of the camera while he kisses her neck.

Signature Pose #9

Veils are beautiful things. Don’t always feel you have to look to the camera, hold the veil out as low as you like or high. Eyes peeking through looks seductive and whimsical. When else will you get to play so dainty?

Signature Pose #10

Direct eye/camera contact can be uncomfortable, but this is your moment, so try it. Lay on the bed with your bouquet and allow your gaze to meet the lens. Lips together or mouth slightly ajar is your choice, both are flattering poses.

Signature Pose #11

Don’t be shy ladies. Hold your groom close, one sturdy arm around his neck, one supporting his back and look into his crystal Valentinas.

Signature Pose #12

Although you might have had your make up professionally fixed, a little bit of pretending never hurts. Pick up that mascara wand and do your best Marilyn Monroe mirror pose. Again, an easy way to slim the face is to lean forward in to the mirror.

Signature Pose #13

The neck kiss is always a winner. Make sure her face is closest to the camera.

Signature Pose #14

Pretend there’s a threshold and spin.

Signature Pose #15

Cheek to cheek is always a nice way to add intimacy to a portrait. Cuddle in to your loved ones during the day.

 Signature Pose #16

Always lean your face gently forward in your portraits to avoid double chins.

Last but definitely not least. Being photographed all day can be exhausting. Don’t be afraid to tell your photographer to give you a break here and there. Afterall, it’s your wedding day and you want to be able to relax and enjoy it without feeling self-conscious all day. By the same token, remember that your wedding photos will be one of the few lasting remnants of your wedding day in 20 years time, so take advantage of your photographer and remember that on your 40th anniversary you to see felicitous faces, tickled pink by the whole thing, not a bored bridal party who’d rather be drinking your dad’s hard-earned open bar at the reception. Hangovers last a day, photos last a lifetime.

By allowing your photographer to do their job and working together, you’ll be surprised how much you’II get out of it.

Photography by PictureBook Photographics


Ms Gingham says: Great advice. Strike a pose in front of the mirror to get used to it or if you can, organize to have an engagement shoot to help you loosen up. I think you’ll agree that some of these images prove that it’s worth the effort!

About Jacqueline of PictureBook Photographics: From regional Victoria. Trained formally in photography at the International College of Commercial Photography in Melbourne. Assistant to Kristian Gehradte. Shot dozens and dozens of weddings in all sorts of conditions and locations and loved (almost) every one.