Although my wedding portfolio emphasizes unposed moments, nearly all weddings also include some posed portraits, sometimes called the “formals”. I encourage clients to schedule some time for these photos for family historical purposes. Portraits usually include the wedding couple, their parents, immediate families and wedding party.
The Key Portraits
Wedding portraits usually have two parts:
- Couple portraits — plan for 10 minutes to 50 minutes. The time varies depending on the couple, the location, and how much you want to walk around.
- Couple + family & wedding party portraits — plan for 20 minutes to 60 minutes. The big variables here are: the number of portraits, size of wedding party, size of families, etc.). A good rule of thumb is to plan on 3 minutes per portrait on your list — or a little longer for really big groups. A typical list might look like this:
- couple + bride’s parents
- couple + bride’s family, including any grandparents & in-laws
- couple + all parents
- couple + groom’s parents
- couple + groom’s family, including any grandparents & in-laws
- bride + bridesmaids
- couple + wedding party (bridesmaids & groomsmen)
- groom + groomsmen
For example, if we plan 20 minutes for the couple portraits, and we plan the above list of 8 couple with family & wedding party portraits (at 3 minutes each), that would total 44 minutes (figuring 20 + 24 minutes). Having a little extra time available beyond that can really help if the day is running behind schedule.
Each wedding is different, and each family is different. Some have big families and big wedding parties, while some have small families and no wedding party. It’s a good idea to make a list like the above, and estimate 3 minutes per portrait on the list. If you plan to do more than the eight key portraits above, I recommend that you assign one or two people to help gather people for the portraits. Give them your portrait list so they know who to gather.
When deciding whether a portrait should be on your list, think about whether it will have a natural destination somewhere. Will it be framed and displayed by itself? Will it be in your wedding album? Would anyone miss it if it weren’t made? I don’t recommend making a list that includes many combinations of the same people. These get repetitive for everyone involved, especially the wedding couple! If time is short, it’s best to go with fewer portraits, while including more people in each. For example, while it may be nice to have a portrait of the bride separately with each parent and the groom separately with each parent, the essential portrait (likely to get framed or be in the album) is the couple with each set of parents, or the couple with all parents.
Of course, be sure to ask for any portraits that are important for you. For example, a portrait of just your parents may be lovely to have, even if it’s not going to be in the album. They may even expect such a portrait. If so, be sure to put it on your list.
Note that many weddings run behind schedule, so it’s a good idea to pad the schedule with extra time, just in case that happens.
Here are some examples of the key portraits at one wedding:
Other Possible Portraits and How They Affect the Schedule
If you would like more portraits, be sure to schedule more time. A list of five portraits may take just 15 minutes to complete, while a list of 30 portraits may realistically take 90 minutes. If you have more time, here are just some of the many possible variations:
Examples of Portraits from Various Weddings
The above examples are all from one wedding. Let’s look at some examples of portraits from other weddings:
Of course, portraits sometimes have fun “in-between” moments:
Wedding Portraits Indoors
The above examples are all outdoors and in daylight. Outdoors is generally preferable, but wedding portraits 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 portraits:
Wedding Portraits in Black and White
Wedding portraits are usually in color but can also be in black and white:
Wedding Portraits Without Looking at the Camera
Wedding portraits are often of people looking toward the camera, but may also have the subjects looking at each other:
Or looking away: