“Do we really need the posed shots?” 

As a wedding photographer I often get asked this question. To pose or not to pose? 

Posed shots traditionally come after the ceremony but before the wedding breakfast. It involves getting all your guests together for a variety of group shots in which they look at the camera and ‘smile’. Most couples want a large group shot and then this is mostly followed by photos of combinations of groups of guests. Such as, friends, brides side of the family, groom with his parents etc.

There are many reasons why people have traditionally had these photos, but as wedding become more and more bespoke, many couples now ask: Do we really need them?  And, are there any alternatives?

I thought I would outline some of the advantages of both having the posed shots, and not. Then maybe suggest an alternative. 

Traditional posed shots


  • You can be sure you get pictures of everyone you want 
  • Everyone can show off their outfits. This can be especially nice if you have co-ordinated bridesmaids. Mums and other guests who have put special thought into their outfits also appreciate a nice photo of them
  • It is expected. Older relatives, especially, will want some nice pictures. If you dont organise it: they will
  • Many of these pictures will be the ones that people will want to go in a frame, maybe on a wall or mantle piece


  • Some people might find this approach stagey and awkward
  • Many people dont take their best shot if they are told to ‘smile’
  • It can take away from your wedding day and break up celebrations

No posed shots at all, just candid shots


  • The wedding party can continue in full swing without stopping for photos, you can enjoy your day with out pausing for photos to take place
  • Many people don’t like feeling posed and prefer to have shots of themselves taken when they are unaware
  • More opportunities for the photographer to capture documentary style photos and create a full documentation of the day and all you guests


  • You might not get the pictures of the people you want
  • You might not like the pictures taken of you
  • People may be expecting some posed shots and may be disapointed

Somewhere in between!

Why can't photos be part of the fun?

When I worked in Hong Kong at Chinese weddings, the couple would go round each table at their wedding meal and have a toast with the people on each table and pose for photographs. It was a way of getting round everyone, for them to congratulate the couple, and grab a few snaps as part of their celebration. It was terrific fun! You might adapt this format to fit your wedding. It doesn’t have to be you walking round the tables, it could just be a walk around the reception to say hello to everyone and then get your photographer to take a snap of you, alternatively you could stand still and people come to you for a toast or chat (like a receiving line perhaps). You could make this as elaborate or simple as you like: backdrop, costumes, props, or just a hug!

My Approach

The main thing I have learnt is to be flexible. 

I can see the value in both posed shots and documentary style shots. I try to incorporate some of each in my photos of the day. But I'm flexible.

Every wedding is completely different. From planning to the execution of the day.  You might want a long list of photographs or you might want all natural shots. You might have fabulous weather and everything runs smoothly. On the other hand it may be awful weather, and you have had a stressful morning. What you think you wanted might completely change as the day progresses!

I have had couples give me a long list of shots they wanted but when the day arrived, due to unforeseen circumstances, they just wanted to relax with their guests and have all candid shots. On the other hand, I’ve had couples not wanting any posed shots and then on the day one side of the family start organising groups so we had to try and make sure that both sides of the family were represented in the photos. 

I try to make sure that before the wedding I discuss in detail with you what your wishes are. We’ll talk about who the important people are and any special photographic requests that you might have. I’ll try to get a sense of how you feel about photos and having your photo taken.  So that on the day I feel better equip to get the photos that you want as the day unfolds. 

When the big day arrives, variables involved in the run of things include, weather, venue, guests, hair and make up. And so on. I believe that photos should fit in around your day.  If things are running smoothly, the weather is great and everyone is enjoying having photos taken: let’s have a few more! But you might have had a stressful morning, the weather is blowing a hoolie and you just want to relax, then let’s cut back!

For me, it all about making sure you have the best day celebrating your marriage and I strongly believe that photography can play a part in both documenting the day and making it extra special along the way. 

If you have any more questions, want any more advice or would like to find out more about my wedding photography: Get in touch! Cant wait to hear from you

Venues included in these photos:

Bagden Hall:

Waterton Park Hotel, Wakefield:

Cedar Court, Huddersfield:

Kilnwick Percy Resort, Pocklington:

Photography in conjunction with paul walker photography