large bridal party at Paradise Valley Country Club
Who else approaches photographing large bridal parties with fear and trembling? Haha! I am SO not the expert at posing and working with large groups, but over my 14+ years of practice, I have found a few tools particularly helpful in making the process as smooth as possible while ending up with a decent outcome. There is always room for improvement when it comes to this topic, so I’m a work in progress, but hopefully you will find a few of these tips helpful in your own journey and growth as a photographer!

1 – Choose your location thoughtfully.
Before a wedding I like to show up about 30 minutes early to scout for portrait locations and take some scene-setting shots along the way. When looking for an ideal location in which to photograph the bridal party, always be on the look-out for good light first and foremost. Light is the most important consideration in portrait locations and I typically like to use a spot that is either in complete shade, or backlit so that the lighting on the subjects’ faces is even.

Background is the next most important consideration in selecting a location. Choose a simple, clean background OR a location where the group can be pulled away from the background to create depth. The bridal party will intrinsically make the photo busy, so keeping the location clean and simple with a focus on good light is key.
large group of groomsmen at Brophy Chapel
large group of bridesmaids at Paradise Valley Country Club
2 -- Create levels.
The wider the group is spread, the further back you need to be to take the shot, and the smaller the people will appear in the photo. So with particularly large bridal parties, I like to create levels by using chairs. This allows me to get the large group into a tighter formation. I have my assistant grab 4-6 chairs from the ceremony location in order to make this happen. It takes a little more time to pose a shot like this, but it is SO worth it!
large bridal party at the Country Club at DC Ranch
large bridal party at the Omni Scottsdale Resort at Montelucia
3 -- Mix it up!
Separating or alternating guys and girls creates interest. Separating the suits and dresses from one another helps create a pleasing balance. In order to facilitate this quickly, I typically instruct each groomsmen to grab the bridesmaid he is escorting down the aisle. Then I have the pairs equally divide on each side of the bride and groom with the maid of honor and best man closest to the couple. Once they fill in on their own, I give further instructions to help create a pleasing and balanced pose.
large bridal party at the Omni Scottsdale Resort at Montelucia
4 -- Stay calm and take your time.
I usually budget 30 minutes to photograph a bridal party regardless of size. The bigger the bridal party, the more time it will take to get everyone positioned. But that’s ok! When you’re working with a very large party, focus on creating just ONE stellar photo of the whole group. It may take 10 minutes to get everyone positioned just right. Be confident and assure the group that it will be worth the effort! Then move on to photographing the bridesmaids and groomsmen separately for the remainder of the allotted portrait time.
large bridal party with umbrellas at El Chorro
5 -- Don’t worry about symmetry; look to create balance.
Everyone doesn’t need to have their hands or arms positioned the same exact way. This makes the photo look more robotic and posed. Instead, embrace how each person naturally stands or poses, and make tweaks to those who still look awkward – all with a goal toward creating balance.
bridesmaids at the Omni Scottsdale Resort at Montelucia
groomsmen with umbrellas at El Chorro
large bridal party at the Country Club at DC Ranch
6 – Get creative!
If you’re working with a small enough group, after you’ve taken the standard pose, change it up! Have the group take a walk, or celebrate around the bride and groom as they share a kiss. If the group is very large and you only have time to get one stellar shot of the entire party set up, you can still get creative when you photograph the guys and girls separately. For instance, I love to take a traditional posed photo of the groom and his groomsmen and then ask them to unbutton their jackets and pose in a more casual, friendly manner with one another to change things up.
large group of bridesmaids at Brophy Chapel
large bridal party at the Hyatt Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch
large party of groomsmen at the Country Club at DC Ranch
groomsmen at the Hyatt Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch
7 -- Have fun with it!
Once you have everyone positioned, try to get a natural smile or reaction out of the group through the use of flattery, humor, or just pointing out how amazing it is that the bride and groom’s big day is finally here!
large party of groomsmen at Paradise Valley Country Club
happy bridesmaids at the Omni Scottsdale Resort at Montelucia
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Helpful tips for photographing portraits of large bridal parties
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