As a Denver Wedding Photographer, I have taken my fair share of posed photos. I know that those posed photos are of the utmost importance on a wedding day, but can also seem like a pain-in-the-you-know-what when you just want to party! For most couples, family and bridal party pictures are a must – whether for their own future nostalgia or simply to appease mom – but can seem like the Big Bad Wolf of the festivities. This shot of you and Grandma; it just huffed and puffed and blew down your ice cold beer. That silly pic of you with your bridesmaids; it just gobbled up your refreshing signature drink. But, there is a way to get all those posed shots, and still make it in time to catch cocktail hour; there will be no huffing and puffing and blowing down your pre-reception buzz if you follow these five tips!
1. Plan Ahead
This first tip is literally number one. It seems obvious, but so many brides skip this step, thinking it would be easier to go with the flow come the big day. But I have to tell you, when our couples don’t plan, that wolf creeps in. A posed portrait session that would take 20 minutes when planned ahead becomes an hour long decision making time-eater. We recommend making a list (or better yet, a spreadsheet) of each posed shot you would like.
For example: Bride and Groom with bride’s immediate family: Mom, dad, stepmom, sister. Having each person in each shot listed out makes it an easy and quick process for your photographer to politely arrange each photo without having to pause and discover what you’d like next.
2. Ask Mom and Dad
As you create your posed shot list, don’t forget to solicit the opinions of those whom you know will – undoubtedly – share theirs. This may seem counter-productive if you’re trying to save time, but believe me; if you don’t ask, they will speak up just when you think it’s time to head to your party. For most couples, moms are the ones with specific family shots they must have. However, think carefully about the important old-schoolers in your life; this could be mom or it could be grandpa. To them, the posed shots are what wedding photography is all about! And if you want them to be happy, and not hijack your cocktail hour, ask them in advance. If their desired shots are planned for in your list, you may tac a mere five minutes to the posed session. However, if they ask in the midst of shutter clicks (because you didn’t ask in advance), family members may need to be tracked down. Clarifying questions will need to be asked. You may as well count 30 additional party minutes as gobbled up. And that brings me to number three:
3. Inform Everyone
OK, so you’ve asked Grandma which posed shots she’d like and you created a super organized spreadsheet for your photographer to reference. Now, you need to inform anyone who will be in any of the posed photos. Send them an email letting them know they are part of your posed photos and telling them where to be and when. The single thing that can eat up the most time is hunting for a lost relative – forget hunting for little pigs. More on that later.
4. Select a Family Ambassador
I know this will come as a great surprise, but your photographer will not know all of your wedding party or family members’ names come time for posed portraits. That is why we always recommend selecting two family ambassadors- one for the groom’s side and one for the bride’s side. Choose someone who knows everyone on your side of the family and in your wedding party. Also important: someone who doesn’t mind telling said people what to do. If anyone goes astray, or the photographer needs help placing someone, your ambassador will come to the rescue! And you won’t have to do a thing.
5. Don’t let anyone escape!
The case of the escaped family member is one every wedding photographer knows all too well. Just call Uncle Bob grabbing a glass of rose before saying cheese “Little Pig Eater”. Yes, your dear uncle who has escaped “momentarily” to the bar will probably cost you at least 20 minutes of sweet, sweet party time. Uncle Bob received your email telling him where to be and when to be there… but sometimes things go astray. The best way to make sure no one on your list disappears is to take all posed photos immediately before or immediately after your ceremony. That way, your family ambassador can keep an eye on everyone… no disappearing acts allowed.
You have now built your party house of brick. The Big Bad Wolf cannot blow it over and gobble up your party time. (Or in my husband’s and my case, alone time in the bridal suite). With the rising trend of the bride and groom attending cocktail hour, following these tips is more important than ever. And why shouldn’t you get to sip on your cleverly named signature drink and lay eyes on your carefully crafted escort card display? One thing’s for sure; do not, by any hair on your chiny-chin-chin (or hopefully those on your fiance’s handsome jaw), let a moment of enjoyment be eaten up by building your posed portraits session of straw.
About Irving Photography: Mathew and Ariel are a married wedding photography duo based in Denver, Colorado. They take a modern approach to romance and derive photographic inspiration from each couple's unique love story.