The bride is the central figure at a wedding. The only people who may disagree with this are the family of the bridegroom! However, from a photographer's point of view, the bride is simply the key figure to get right. Try to make sure that she looks her best in all the images. Flattery will get you everywhere! In formal or arranged shots there are a number of techniques a photographer can use to ensure that the bride looks elegantly posed. Some of these are listed below.
In general, position the bride by asking her to stand at a slight angle to the camera. The angle through which she should turn depends to some extent on the bride's figure. Slim brides need not turn as much as those with larger figures. Twenty or thirty degrees is a good general guide. The foot nearer to the photographer should then be pointed at the camera and brought forward a few inches with the knee just slightly bent. Her weight should then be transferred to the foot further from the camera. Ask her to turn her head rather than her shoulders towards the camera, and to tilt her head very slightly to the side of the leg supporting her weight. Wherever possible, her arms and wrists should form a gentle curve rather than a straight line. Straight lines, real or implied, or rigid limbs are rarely attractive and hence unlikely to enhance an image. When posing the bride with the groom, or indeed any man, ask her to turn inward towards him to some extent. This causes her to angle her shoulders away from the camera and hence look slimmer than the man. Few brides appreciate being portrayed as wider than their husband!
For full-length shots, the bride's bouquet should be positioned fairly low down, perhaps where one might hold a fig leaf! This produces a graceful curve in the arms. A bouquet held nearer the bust is likely to conceal detail in the attractive waistline and body areas of the dress, and produce a harsh angular position for the arms. Her hands are best seem from the side rather than the palm or the back. This makes them appear smaller. Her index fingers are often best raised slightly above the others.With half-length shots it may be better to raise the bouquet to avoid cutting off her arms in an unsightly manner.
Limbs should be cut off between joints rather than at the locations of the joints. In the case of legs, cut the figure at the thigh rather than the waist or knee. Lower down, cut the legs between knee and ankle. Cutting at the knee looks unnatural and cutting at the ankle looks like an error. Use a similar principle for the arms. Cut them between shoulder and elbow or between elbow and wrist.
Tilting the heads of your subjects is generally good practice. Once again it helps to avoid implied straight lines. When the bride and groom are posed together, ask them to tilt their heads slightly towards each other. There are two basic head tilts, masculine and feminine. Men are often better posed with their heads inclined slightly forward and towards the front of the body. Women may be better with the head tilted slightly over the shoulder and towards the back. A tilted head tends to work better with a slimmer bride.
With larger and heavier brides it may be best to avoid the sitting position as it tends to reduce the woman's height without decreasing the width of her figure. In the standing position, turn a larger bride slightly sideways to reduce her figure and consider positioning the groom, or someone else, slightly in front of her on one side. This obscures one arm and makes the bride appear slimmer.