Wedding Portraits

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Although my wedding portfolio emphasizes unposed moments, nearly all weddings also include some posed portraits, usually called the formal wedding photos, or “formals”.  I encourage clients to schedule some time for these photos for family historical purposes.  Formals usually include the bride and groom, their parents, immediate families and wedding party.

Five Key Formals

For most weddings, there are five key formals (which may be all you need):

  1. Bride and Groom
  2. Bride and Groom with Parents
  3. Bride and Groom with Bride’s Family
  4. Bride and Groom with Groom’s Family
  5. Bride and Groom with Wedding Party

The family photos may be just immediate family and/or extended family. Each family and each wedding is different, so feel free to make a portrait list that is unique to your wedding. Some weddings don’t have a wedding party, etc. Just be sure to schedule enough time for the portraits that you’ll want — about 3 minutes per photo is usually good, but more for the bride and groom, and more if there are big groups. Here are some examples of the five key formals at one wedding:

Bride and Groom
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents
Bride and Groom with Groom’s Parents
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Family
Bride and Groom with Wedding Party
Bride and Groom with Wedding Party (a little less formal)

Other Possible Formals and How They Affect the Schedule

Of course, many other formals are possible. If you would like more than the five key formals, be sure to schedule more time, and make sure the needed people will be present. With everything happening at a wedding, staying on schedule is often the biggest challenge. Keep in mind that more portraits may mean less time for other activities, and subjects tend to get tired if they have be in many posed photos. A list of five key formals may take just 15 minutes to complete, while a list of 30 formals may realistically take 90 minutes! If you have more time, here are just some of the many possible variations:

Bride with Bridesmaids
Groom with Groomsmen
Bride with Maid of Honor
Bride with Bridesmaid
Bride with Bride’s Family
Bride with Mother
Bride’s Parents
Bride and Groom with Bride’s extended Family
Bride and Groom with Groom’s extended Family
Group photo during cocktail hour
Family group photo during cocktail hour (large group photos inevitably take some time while key people are found and assembled)
Family group photo during cocktail hour (large group photos inevitably take some time while key people are found and assembled)

 Examples of Wedding Formals from Various Weddings

The above examples are all from the same wedding. Let’s look at some examples of formals from other weddings:

Bride and Bridesmaids

Of course, formals sometimes have fun “in-between” moments:

Bride and Bridesmaids
Bride and Groom with Groom’s Family
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Family
Bride and Groom
Bride and Groom
Groom and Bride
Groom and Bride
Bride and Bridesmaid
Bride with Sisters
Bride
Bride and Bridesmaids
Bride and Bridesmaids
Groom and Groomsmen
Groom and Groomsmen
Bride and Groom with Wedding Party
Bride and Groom with Wedding Party
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents and extended Family

Wedding Formals Indoors

The above examples are all outdoors and in daylight. Outdoors is generally preferable, but wedding formals can also be done indoors. Sometimes the weather is a factor, or the sunset is early, or indoors is just more practical. Here are some examples of indoor wedding formals:

Bride
Bride and Bridesmaids
Bride’s Mother and Bride
Bride with Bridesmaids
Bride and Groom with Wedding Party
Bride and Groom with their Parents
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Family
Bride and Groom with Nieces and Nephews
Bride and Groom with Bride’s extended Family

Wedding Formals in Black and White

Wedding formals are usually in color but can also be in black and white:

Groom and Groomsmen
Bride and Groom with Groomsmen

Wedding Portraits Without Looking at the Camera

Wedding formals are generally of people looking toward the camera, but posed photos sometimes have the subjects looking at each other:

Bride and Groom

Or looking away:

Bride

Casual Portraits

Of course, weddings offer opportunities for many casual portraits or unplanned portraits that are not part of the formals (click on any photo for a larger view):