How to Style Wedding Portraits for Perfect Photos!

Having a stylist on hand at your wedding is a LOT like having a fairy godmother with you for the day. Wedding stylists wear many hats, but one of their main jobs is to make sure that everyone's wardrobe is pressed, clean, fitted, and picture perfect for the big day. This could include providing collar stays for errant groomsmen shirts, removing stains from flower girl dresses, helping the bride keep her gown makeup-free, all the way to sewing quick hems and repairing broken straps. Wedding stylists make everyone look amazing and help the day to run smoothly, but are admittedly a luxury. Whether hiring a stylist is out of your budget or doesn't fit into your micro-wedding head count, don't worry! We've asked Risa Kostis, owner of RISTYLE Consulting and co-founder of The Rescue Kit Company, to share her top tips for creating perfectly styled wedding day portraits. Your photographer will thank you. 

Everything Must Be Steamed!

Risa Kostis, owner of RISTYLE Consulting and cofounder of The Rescue Kit Company, steams bridesmaids dresses on the bride's big day.
Risa diligently steams wrinkles out of a bridesmaid's dress pre-wedding!


Make sure your dress is steamed before you take photos! If you've had alterations done, most likely your tailor will have taken care of this, but if the dress has been folded or traveled far, it will need some attention. You can purchase a hand steamer (like this one) or see if someone in your area rents one. Once you are dressed, if the material wrinkles easily (silks/satins/linen), try not to sit in the dress between portraits. It is costly and time consuming (and if they shoot film, not possible!) for a photographer to go back and edit out wrinkles! In The Bride Kit there is a wrinkle release spray included which can be a lifesaver not only for the bride, but for the whole wedding party. Make sure to spray from a far enough distance that you aren't soaking the dress (you want a gentle mist, not a deluge!) and give a full 10 minutes for any extra moisture to dry before photos are taken.

Establish Your Point Person!

Stylist Risa Kostis and Photographer Tracy Ann Battaglia are a wedding dream team!
Stylist Risa and photographer Tracy...the wedding dream team 


If you have a day-of wedding coordinator or stylist, most likely this will be your point person. Make sure to ask them ahead of time if they handle coordinating the portrait photography, and make sure they have your photographer's information so they can communicate prior to the big day. If you do not have a professional on hand, pick your most "friendly but firm" bridesmaid or family member to weave their way through the assembled crew. It takes a special someone to wrangle a wedding party that is ready to get to the fun! Have your point person make sure everything is out of everyone's pockets - cell phones, keys, wallets...everything! You can supply a cute catch-all basket so nothing gets misplaced. No sunglasses on heads either! If your photographer is shooting film they can't edit objects out of the photos, and again, you don't want to pay them to edit digital photography too much in post production.

Position The Bouquets!

These lovely ladies nailed the bouquet positioning!
These lovely ladies nailed the bouquet positioning! 


Have your bridesmaids hold their bouquets slightly tilted toward the camera, at the level of their navel. Most people's instinct is to hold the flowers up high, but it is more flattering for the body to hold them at an approximate ten degree tilt. That will help to not cut off the body, and will allow for the beautiful gowns to be seen. This positioning of the bouquets will also help make the line of bridesmaids look even, despite differences in height. This positioning is for the bride, too!

For The Bride!

Perfect positioning of this bride's skirt makes sure every gorgeous detail is seen.
Perfect positioning of this bride's skirt makes sure every gorgeous detail is seen.


If you are wearing a circle train or skirt, make sure that it is pulled forward and fanned out toward the front. Otherwise you won't capture the full beauty of your gown in the photos! If your veil is blown around by the wind, have a bridesmaid tuck it gently into the back of your dress so it stays in place but can still be seen.

For The Guys!

Great jacket buttoning and (almost) perfect hand positioning shown by these gentlemen!
Great jacket buttoning and (almost) perfect hand positioning shown by these gentlemen!


If the groomsmen are wearing jackets with buttons, the typical and most appropriate look if they are standing in a line is to have the top button of the jacket fastened. If you want a different look, just make sure everyone does the same thing. (The groom of course can be different!) There are two ways to position hands in the pocket. All four fingers in, with thumb out is the position that usually looks the best. Conversely, you can switch it around and do thumb in, and all four fingers out.

Hopefully this gets you started in the right direction for picture perfect wedding portraits, no matter the size or style of your wedding. Still have questions? We love to problem solve! Drop us a note in the comments below and we'll do our best to help you out!

If you love this info, we have an awesome, FREE ebook that you can sign up for here that walks you through the styling process from engagement to walking down the aisle!


risa + jess