7 Easy Ways to Feel Confident While Posing For Wedding & Bridal Portraits

We got the scoop from industry pros.
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
by Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Associate Editor
  • Sarah is an Associate Digital Editor for The Knot, with special focuses in fashion, pop culture and wedding trends.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Apr 14, 2021

In addition to exchanging vows and celebrating at the reception, taking formal portraits is one of the most important activities on your wedding day. You'll look back on wedding pictures for years to come, so it's necessary to dedicate enough time in your schedule for photos with your bridesmaids, groomsmen and family members. But if getting in front of the camera makes you feel nervous, you're not alone.

Posing for formal bridal photos and wedding portraits isn't like posing for Instagram pictures. (But we've got plenty of inspiration for the 'gram too). Your photographer will snap plenty of images throughout the day, from candid action shots to group photos. They'll also take formal portraits too; these are often posed or close-up images that highlight your fashion, like your wedding dress or suit, as well as additional details like style accessories, floral accents like bouquets or boutonnières, and your venue. If you're comfortable in the spotlight, posing for formal wedding portraits may feel like a breeze—but it's normal to have a few photoshoot jitters. Instead of stressing about your wedding day portrait session, we're here to help. We tapped industry experts to learn how to feel like your best self for bridal photos and wedding pictures. Take note of their best tips below, and prepare to feel as confident as ever on your big day.

Hire a Pro You Trust

The first step to feeling confident while posing for wedding portraits is hiring a pro you trust. It's important to work with vendors that align with your values and your wedding vision. They're the professionals who will help bring your big day to life, so it's essential to hire people who make you feel understood and supported. This is a key consideration to keep in mind when searching for all vendors, but especially your wedding photographer. Posing for photos doesn't always come naturally, but a great photographer will help you feel comfortable and capture you and your S.O. in a way that feels genuine. "Hire a photographer that gets you," suggests California-based photographer Brandi Rollins. "If they speak your language, you can trust that they'll deliver photos that will last a lifetime."

Take some time to browse through photographers' portfolios and galleries during the hiring process. This is a great way to make sure your wedding photo vision aligns with their photography style, and it'll make you feel confident during all of your wedding photoshoots. "Couples should browse wedding photos for inspiration to learn what they want so they pick the right wedding photographer," suggests Detroit-based photographer Olivia Wenzel. Use tools like The Knot Marketplace to find local vendors that fit your ideal wedding aesthetic, and read reviews from real couples to help finalize your search. You can also browse real wedding galleries to narrow down your favorite wedding photography styles and poses, which your pro will help you emulate.

Take Engagement Photos First

You might feel a little nervous during your wedding photo session if it's your first time in front of the camera. To help eliminate wedding day portrait jitters, book an engagement photo session with your photographer. Consider this a test run for the photoshoot on your actual wedding day. Not only will you learn more about your photographer's shooting style, an engagement session is a perfect time for them to observe how you and your S.O. act together, which will help them capture stunning wedding portraits. "An engagement session is a great opportunity for you and your photographer to get to know one another and try some of the poses you may recreate on the wedding day," says Wenzel.

Just like you might schedule a beauty trial with your makeup artist or stylist to finalize your look before the wedding, an engagement portrait session will help you plan a few poses and get comfortable with your photographer. By the time the big day arrives, you and your pro will fall into a natural rhythm that you previously established during your engagement shoot.

Prepare a Shot List

Your wedding pros are masters of their crafts, meaning you can rely on their expertise throughout the planning process—but that's not to say you shouldn't do some planning on your end too. Preparing a wedding photo shot list is one of the best ways to maximize your time together on the wedding day. Your pro will guide you through common wedding and bridal portrait poses, but take some time to bring a few ideas to the photoshoot too. In fact, gathering inspiration beforehand will give you enough guidance so that you don't feel lost when it's time to start taking photos.

"It's always great to come to a session with some idea of your photo style and aesthetic preference," says NYC-based photographer Gianna Leo Falcon. Adds Rollins: "If I can sense that my clients have a specific vision about their photos, I do recommend that they do an inspiration board. That way, they can clearly communicate what they want."

Avoid Over-Practicing

While you should come prepared with bridal photo ideas, try to avoid over-practicing before the big day. It may seem like practicing your poses is the best way to boost your confidence, but it can actually be counter-productive if you think too hard about nailing the shot in the moment. "When couples are too focused on creating specific photos, they miss out on enjoying the experience," Wenzel advises, noting that your pro will ensure you capture all of the most important photographs. "Experienced wedding photographers will have their own master shot list to make sure they don't miss any details."

Your photographer will be able to guide you and your S.O. throughout the wedding portrait session to capture photos that fulfill your shot list and feel natural. "I observe my couples first to see how they move, and then I pose them in ways that are consistent with their natural demeanor," Rollins explains. "Then, I just allow them to be themselves. I call this natural posing, and it works."

Move Naturally

When it's time to start smiling for the camera, you'll be grateful to have a few wedding and bridal portrait pose ideas on hand—but don't underestimate the power of talking and laughing naturally with your partner. Even simple movements like walking together or putting your arms around each other will result in genuine wedding portraits that don't feel overly posed or forced.

If you do feel yourself tensing up for close-up shots, take a minute to refocus your energy on your partner instead. Allow yourself to relax in their presence, and your photographer will work their magic to produce heartfelt candid photos that you'll cherish.

Designate Enough Time

Making your wedding day timeline is an essential task to complete in the weeks leading up to the big day. While it's important to allot enough time for the big moments, like your wedding ceremony, cocktail hour, reception speeches and dancing, setting aside time for portraits and bridal photos is a must. After all, feeling rushed may impact your confidence throughout your photo session. Give yourself ample time to take group photos with your wedding party and family members, but set aside time for solo shots too. You might want to consider doing a first look, along with a private photo session, before the ceremony. Or, dedicate part of the photo schedule just for you, your S.O. and your photographer so the three of you can cross off all the portrait ideas on your shot list.

The ideal photoshoot time isn't one-size-fits-all, but there are some general guidelines to follow. "Every wedding timeline is different and determined by multiple factors including the sunset, the location and the ceremony time," explains Wenzel. "For a tight timeline, I include a minimum of 30 minutes of shooting time for wedding portraits. Sixty minutes is my preference though, especially if there is more flexibility in the day. Work with your wedding photographer to create a timeline that works best for you."

Communicate With Your Photographer

Ultimately, the best thing you can do to feel confident while posing for wedding pictures and bridal portraits is to communicate with your photographer. "Don't hesitate to tell your photographer what you want, or if you're not feeling what they're doing," suggests Falcon. "This is all about you, and we're there to capture it." Adds Rollins: "One way to eliminate any insecurities is to voice them to their photographer. The last thing I want a couple to say while viewing wedding photos is, 'I love this photo, but...'"

If you're feeling nervous about any aspect of your wedding photoshoot, ask to see one or two shots to confirm that you're on the right path. "I often show my couples their pictures as I am taking them," Rollins says. "That way, they can see how amazing they look and feel more comfortable."

And, as with any other wedding pro, it's important to trust their expertise. "Understand it is completely normal to feel awkward or uncomfortable when you get in front of the camera," advises Wenzel. "For many couples, this is their first time having professional photos taken and I expect them to feel uneasy when we start. Trust your photographer and don't be afraid to communicate what you do or don't like."

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