The way I work on a wedding day is predominantly relaxed and informal – I love capturing all the little moments – Mum’s happy tears, Dad’s proud smile and Granny admiring your new wedding ring. I want the photography to be an easy and painless part of your wedding day and one of the things I get asked about most often is family group photos.
I consider group photographs to be really important – what other occasion do you get all your nearest and dearest in one place at the same time, all dressed up and looking amazing?! If you’re anything like my family the answer is very rarely.
Although most of my couples are keen to not spend hours standing in line with a never ending combination of family members, I rarely come across a bride and groom who do not want a single group photo. (Note: You absolutely don’t have to take any group photos if you don’t want to – it’s your day, you can do whatever as you like!) However most of my couples consider them important and value them so they will want to take them even though they know it won’t be the most fun part of their wedding day.
So with this in mind, I have some top tips to make your wedding photography group photos a (relatively) easy and painless part of your wedding day
- Write a list
Sit down before the wedding day to finalise a list of the photos you’d like. Deciding in advance means you’re less likely to miss a photo that you later go on to regret not taking. Speak to your parents about any photos they may be expecting – the last thing you want is to be lining up for a million extra photos on the day because your Mum has her heart set on it. Preparing your list in advance also means that I can rearrange it into an order that will be most efficient to get through on the day. (see my list of suggested photos at the bottom of this article)
2. Be Specific
Try not to leave your list open to interpretation. If you’d like a photo with the bride’s family, who should be included in this – parents, siblings, cousins, grandparents, aunties, uncles? What about partners? This will also help me understand the family situation
3. Keep the numbers down
Try to limit the number of photos to less than 10. Ask yourself what you will be doing with these photos…will they go in an album, on granny’s mantlepiece or on the wall? Be realistic and if you do not see a use for it then we needn’t take it. I can usually whizz through 8-10 groups in 20 minutes. Any more than 10 photographs and you’re likely to get bored and insist we stop so make the list count with only ones you definitely want. Try to avoid taking endless combinations to appease other family members – it’s your day remember!
4. Allow enough time
Provided your list isn’t crazy long I should be able to get through the list in under 30 minutes. Allow up to 3 minutes for groups of up to 6 people and 5 minutes for larger groups. That may sound like a long time but trust me, there is always someone who isn’t in the right place at the right time and needs to be hunted down! Which leads me on to…
5. Allocate a helper
Make sure those people who are needed for photos know where they need to be and when so you’re not having to hunt down Uncle Bob in the bar. Think about asking one of your bridal party to help round up guests. Preferably this should be someone with a loud voice and who knows both families. I’ll have a list and they’ll have the same list and together we’ll be done in no time!
6. Trust me
When it comes to location I will always choose the spot where there is enough space for your largest group and where the light is good. Bright sunlight means everyone will be squinting which never looks good so I will always try to keep you in some shade or with your backs to the sun to avoid unflattering harsh light hitting your faces. I will have done a scout of the venue and picked out the spot that combines the best light with a great backdrop.
7. Small humans
When it comes to your youngest wedding guests it’s best to get these out the way as early as possible…before they ruin their new outfit by playing in the mud or get their face covered in orange dust after stuffing wotsits down their face
8. Timing is everything.
So here’s the thing – Mum will want to take off her hat, someone will spill red wine down their outfit and there is always someone that has a few too many drinks over dinner so it’s really important we get these done before food! If possible, straight after the ceremony is best. Finding everyone you need is what makes group photos so dull and there is the least chance of someone having gone awol if we tackle the list sooner rather than later!
9. Stick to the plan
Try not to surprise me by adding several shots to the list and ensure that no other relative does either as I will have worked hard to put the list in an order that is efficient. We don’t want to sacrifice time from your couple session or eat into precious drinking time!
10. Have fun!
Granted, Granny might not want to jump in the air or sit on a haybale but not all your group photos need to be a static line of people. I always like to do a few group photos that are more relaxed and fun and I usually suggest doing this with the bridal party. Leaving this group until last means we can do some less static shots where you are walking, jumping or just having a laugh together. Let me know if there’s any groups of friends you’d like to have a picture with – these can be more informal and quite often I capture these later during the reception or even on the dance floor!
what are the most popular wedding group photos?
- Bride’s parents
- Groom’s parents
- Bride and groom’s parents
- Groom’s immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparents)
- Bride’s immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparents)
- Bride’s extended family
- Groom’s extended family
- Bridal party (bridesmaids, flower girls, best man, ushers, page boys
- Any extras….eg just your siblings, your grandparents (depending on your situation and who you have a close relationship with)
Obviously every couple’s family situation is different but this gives you an idea of the most popular combinations.
What about a group shot of everyone?
Although it’s traditional to have a group photo of all your wedding guests, think carefully before adding this to your list as there are a few things to bear in mind.
Ushering 80+ people together into one place can take up to 20 minutes. People are often checking into their rooms, feeding babies or getting a drink at the bar. If you do want a big group photo the the best time to do it is before any of your guests have chance to stray, so usually straight after the ceremony. Getting your celebrant or a member of your bridal party to announce this ensures that everyone knows what is happening and reduces the risk of guests doing a disappearing act. Remember to build it into your timeline and check with your venue about a suitable location as usually I will need to shoot from high up or arrange guests across big wide steps in order to see everyone.