Strike a pose!
It's not hard to see why couples love the candid photos from their weddings. The oh-so-sweet shot of the groom looking lovingly at his bride as she laughs on the dance floor or the father of the bride raising his eyebrows during the best man's speech convey emotion that cannot be staged.
But just as worthy are the formal portraits: those posed photos of the couple, the wedding party and family members.
“These are the images your family will 100 percent print out,” says Elle Reed of Brett Loves Elle Photography. “Lots of people love the artistic images, but they will frame the formal portraits in their homes and keep [them] as a memory to have in their family.”
Formal portraits have another purpose, says Nicole Dixon of Nicole Dixon Photographic: They ensure that each member of your wedding party or family who is important to you makes it into a wedding image.
Plus, “more care and attention goes into the arrangement of the pose and lighting compared to, for example, a quick candid snapshot at the reception,” adds Bryce Koechlin of AddVision Studios.
But while you (literally) can't plan your candid shots, formal portraits are a part of your wedding photography that you can—and should—figure out in advance.
These photos often take place before the ceremony or during cocktail hour, depending on when the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception start.
“If you give your photographers time, they can create the best images possible,” Reed says, noting that couples often fail to take formal portraits into account when creating the wedding-day timeline. Another oft-forgotten—but totally necessary—aspect of the day is a list of who should be included in the portraits.
Reed also suggests carefully considering the location for the formal portraits and whether the space is large enough to accommodate everyone, especially if you have a big wedding party or family.
But posing still can feel awkward; even the most seasoned selfie-taker probably hasn't had much experience with professional portraits. That's where the engagement photo session comes in.
“It gives the couple a great opportunity to get one-on-one time with their photography team and become familiar with our poses and overall just interacting with the camera,” says Koechlin. If you feel more confident and comfortable in front of the camera, it will show in your pics.
And don't let the word “formal” box you in. You can still have fun with your portraits. Relax and let your personality—and your love for your new spouse—do all of the work.
One of Reed's favorite formal portraits is of a couple flanked on both sides by parents and grandparents, all kissing their respective partners. “It was about 200-plus years of marriage all added up. I loved that! Those are the things you remember and cherish,” she says. (Eagle-eyed readers might remember the shot from our “Online” section in the last issue; it was featured among the most popular images from the Columbus Weddings Instagram.)
The most important thing to remember about formal portraits is to not overthink it, advises Dixon. “Enjoy the time and let your photographer do the rest.”