Tips and advice for your wedding group photos

Group shots at weddings

[W]e’ve all been there, the ceremony just finished, all we want is a glass of wine and perhaps a mini burger slider but the wedding photographer is insisting that we all stand around for what seems like HOURS while he or she works through an endless list of group shot combinations. It’s no fun for the photographer, it’s no fun for you and you can guarantee it’s no fun for your guests. No one wants to look back on their wedding day and just remember how dull it was standing round while various names were called, grandmas were fetched, page boys were dragged back kicking and screaming and bridesmaids were nowhere to be found.  That’s why I have prepared this list of pointers, so we can hopefully work our way through the wedding group photos as quickly and efficiently as possible, while ensuring that you have beautiful family photos from the day.

Tips for wedding group photos

1)  Plan out your group combinations in advance

I generally suggest that 8-10 different combinations is a good maximum amount for your wedding group photos.  If you imagine that each combination is going to take 2-3 minutes to organise (it doesn’t always take this long, but at the same time it can often take longer if someone has wandered off!) then 10 group shots can quickly turn in to half an hour of guests standing around and waiting for them to be done.  Big group shots, e.g. the ‘everyone’ shot, can take more like 5-6 minutes to get organised, especially if I end up having to clamber up a ladder or holler instructions from an upstairs window.  It’s a good idea to bear all of this in mind when choosing your combinations.  Be honest with yourself about what groups you need.  Do you really need a photo of you with your uncle and aunt, when they are already included in a bigger family shot? Are the cousins that you haven’t seen in 3 years really that vital to be included? Do you really need separate photos with each of your bridesmaids? Asking yourself these questions and being ruthless will save you time and stress on the day.

Here is an example group shot list that I often send to clients for them to adapt to suit their own individual families:

Bride + groom with bride’s parents
Bride + groom with groom’s parents
Bride + groom with bride’s parents + siblings
Bride + groom with groom’s parents + siblings
Bride + groom with grandparents
Bride + groom with bridesmaids + groomsmen
Bride with bridesmaids
Groom with groomsmen
This keeps things nice and simple, and I always tell all my couples that if there are any other groups, e.g. groups of friends or wider family groups that they want to get we can always do these more informally during the reception.
2) Get the group shots done as soon as possible after the ceremony

It is SO much easier to get these over and done with straight away. Seriously, it just is. I know that in an ideal world straight after the ceremony you would have time for lots of hugs, kisses and meaningful chats with your closest friends and family, but honestly, giving people loads of time to wander off will make it so much more tricky and time consuming to round them all up again.  My thinking is that it’s best to get at least the main family shots out of the way quickly, and I’m pretty efficient working through them once we get started so *hopefully* they won’t take too long!

If you do want a few minutes to mingle after the ceremony before we start the group shots,  then the best thing you can do is inform each person in advance that they will be needed for a photo soon after the ceremony.  At least then, hopefully, they will stay close and when we start the group photos everyone who needs to be in one of them will still be around.

3) Appoint a bridesmaid/groomsman/loud uncle to help

Anyone with a loud booming voice will do!  Or alternatively, someone with a less booming voice but who knows everyone and can quietly go and grab each person as I need them for photos. This can be one person or a group of people, but it is useful for me to have some help because obviously, besides the people that I will meet in the morning, I’m not going to know who your various family members are or what they look like. With one or more helpers the process of gathering people can be done a lot quicker.

4) Do the bridesmaids and groomsmen group pictures somewhere away from the crowd

Once the family group shots are done, we can then gather the bridesmaids and the groomsmen and go somewhere else a bit more private, and if we have time we could do something a bit more creative for those photos. These are your best friends and it’s nice for you to have some fun and interesting photos to look back on! If you have any unique, creative or just plain silly ideas for these please let me know, especially if they involve using the venue in an interesting way or bringing props!

If you’re not that fussed about group shots anyway

Brilliant! I much prefer shooting just candids, and they can often be so much more meaningful anyway. However, I would still recommend getting two group shots – the both of you with each of your immediate families. And perhaps the grandparents as well. Just because these photos may not mean much to you now, but they will mean so much in years to come. And it’s nice to have a family photo for the mantelpiece!

Wedding planning

I’ve got plans to continue this series of blog posts to help you with your wedding planning, but in the meantime if there is anything else that you would like help with or advice on then please let me know.  I might even turn it into a future blog post!

If you are wondering what to expect from your bridal preparation photos and how best to be prepared, then you can see my previous blog post here.


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