I don't think I've ever had a client meeting where the bride and/or the groom didn't express anxiousness about being photographed. Unless you're a well-seasoned model (which most of my couples aren't ;) ), being in front of a camera is a little intimidating. Even for photographers themselves. That's why I do everything I can to alleviate nerves and give the couple time to really just be together. In the midst of wedding planning, quality time together can be hard to come by, and I'm pretty sure I don't need to tell you how fast the wedding day goes. Planned portrait time is a break from all the craziness and really helps couples reconnect.
I always tell the couples I work with that I am more of a photojournalist than a traditional wedding photographer. I like shooting as a fly on the wall rather than directing each part of the day. I do, however, direct two parts of the wedding day: family formals and bride and groom portraits (along with engagement sessions). Because I don't expect my couples to magically know how to work the camera, I direct them into certain poses that require interaction. Interaction is key. It makes the couple feel more comfortable, which helps create those natural, organic portraits that most people are looking for.
I generally ask for at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted portrait time with the bride and groom on their wedding day (i.e., just the photographers and the bride and groom, with no one else around to talk to them and distract them from each other). Not only must I fit in lovely photos of the two of them, but I also need to shoot portraits of each of them separately and any details (i.e., hair pieces, boutonnieres, etc.) that haven't been documented yet. Plus, by having at least this much time, the couple really feels like they had a private moment together on a day that will feel anything but private!
Engagement sessions usually last about 1.5 hours and are a great way to get more comfortable in front of the camera before the big day! Generally, couples that choose to do engagement sessions can work more efficiently in front of the camera during wedding portrait time because they know what to expect and won't think I'm TOO crazy for asking them to do something a little untraditional. :)
So, what can you expect during portrait time? I'll ask you to get close ... a lot. I think I might be infamous for asking my couples to always have their foreheads together.
I'll give you action items, like asking the groom to pick up the bride or having the couple walk toward the camera.
I'll put you in a pose and then ask you chat with each other and catch up on your day. Cheesy? Maybe. But it works! This can parlay into a more photojournalistic moment depending on how comfortable the couple is at this point.
And I'll always check in on you. I want portrait time to be a two-way street. If anything makes you uncomfortable, I want to know! And if YOU have an idea for a great picture, I'm game. :)