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How to Pose for Wedding Pictures

Your hair and makeup are flawless, but your nerves? A little frazzled with that camera lens in your face. Heed these tips to guarantee great shots -- of you, your groom, and your friends.

For Your Portrait

Aim to Flatter

During formal pictures, "stand at a slight angle, not straight on," says Donna Newman, a photographer in Miami. And remember the basics: Take a deep breath, exhale, then tilt your chin down and look up. Also, people look slimmer when photographed from an elevated point, so ask your pro to hop up on a chair for some shots.

Bring a Friend

Have her stand off camera to carry on a conversation -- bonus if she's the funniest bridesmaid. "There's nothing more attractive than a sincere laugh," says Thayer Allyson Gowdy, a San Francisco-based photographer.

Hold the Bouquet with One Hand

Rather than clasping both hands around it, clutch it loosely with one and let the other hang naturally by your side. It'll look more relaxed.

Be Nervous -- It's Okay

Everyone's a bit jittery on the big day. Rather than forcing a smile the whole time, let yourself be real. "If I can catch the bride staring anxiously out the window or welling up with her mom, I know I've got a good one," says Gowdy. "Raw emotions make for gorgeous photos."

Just You Two

Ask for Some Alone Time

At the start of your session, have your photographer give you a few minutes while she discreetly shoots, paparazzi-style, from a distance. You're more likely to act natural without a third party right there, Gowdy explains.

Take a Walk

Hold hands and set off on a short stroll, even if it's just across the lawn. "The hair moves, the dress flows, and there's energy to the image," says Gowdy.

Kiss (Yes, Really)

It may feel cheesy at first, but it's your wedding -- go for it. "I joke and tell couples, 'Okay, you two, you can finally make out,' and they always laugh and have an awesome kiss," says Gowdy. "Let your guard down, and you'll get a beautiful image."

Use Props

And no, we don't mean moustaches. (It's official: They've jumped the shark!) Seek out items that are part of the scenery. If there's a statue outside your city venue, climb on. Getting hitched by a lake? Pose in a rowboat.

Your Wedding Party

Find a Backdrop

The ocean is always nice, but a wedding party lined up in front of funky hotel wallpaper or peeking out from the windows of a B&B is interesting, too.

Get Moving

As with the bride and groom, it helps to walk. Newman likes to have giggling flower girls and ring bearers chase the bride and bridesmaids while she shoots.

Use Furniture

Varying the height within a group can look much better than the standard lineup. If you have couches or vintage chairs set out for the reception, take a seat.

Make It Look Random

Max Wanger, a photographer in Los Angeles, often staggers people or asks everyone to look in a different direction. "Group shots are best when they're not so uniform," he says.

Catch the Guys Off Guard

Most men aren't exactly pro posers, so Wanger likes to capture them doing something -- like clinking glasses of Scotch or throwing a football.

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