Ahh the group family photos! Enough to send a shiver down the spine of brides, grooms and wedding photographers around the world! Should you have some? How many? When? Will it be stressful? Questions you probably have at this point in your planning. But I'm here to help, so read on for my approach to capturing your group shots, quickly and with as little stress as possible.
The thing is, as much as we all love natural, unposed photography and that’s probably what you really want from me as your photographer, getting a few group shots of all the main people on the day are in my opinion really important photos and if you want some (and most of my couples do) then I'm more than happy to get them for you.
One of the most important photos to me from my wedding day (and the one that’s on our wall) is just a standard posed shot of me with my arm around my mum. At the time, maybe I didn’t think much of it, but having lost her to cancer 8 years ago it’s become hugely valuable to me.
That being said, the truth is, the group shots are probably not going to be your favourite bit of the day but we want these photos right!!
So here is how I approach them so they are quick, efficient and as stress free as possible for you guys so you can get the photos you want and get back to the party!
First things first, stay calm, deep breath, it'll all be ok!
I tend to have a little chat/pep talk with you before we grab the group photos, here’s the gist of it.
“Guys, it’s group photo time, remember, I’ve been doing this for 11 years, I’ve seen it all before, I’ve got your back, I’m not stressed by it and you don’t need to be either, if you get stressed just look at me, take a deep breath and smile : ) ”
Family dynamics can be awkward, mum keeps asking for extra group shots, the best man has gone missing, dad (it’s usually dad!) keeps messing around and the flower girl is crying! This isn't the chilled, relaxed day you've imagining but trust me, it’s all good, just take a deep breath, I’ve got this, you don’t need to stress. Your energy on the day is so vital! The whole wedding feeds off it, so don’t worry, let me sort it out, there’s a glass of champagne and canapes waiting for you : )
When should we do the group shots?
The best time to do these photos is pretty much straight after the ceremony or if you’re having a confetti toss then after that. Why? Well the thing that can make them go on for ages isn’t taking the photo itself, that’s actually pretty quick and easy, it’s finding your Best Man or Mum or Uncle Jim who’s disappeared back to their room, or the bar, or back to the car, wherever. There’s nothing worse than gathering people for group photos only to find out someones gone missing. Doing them directly after the ceremony means everyone will be within easy reach which makes the whole thing a lot easier, quicker and less stressful.
How long will they take?
I’d love to give you an exact time but the truth is it varies but as a rough guide, if you follow this guide, it shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes. I’m very quick and efficient with this bit of the day.
How many group shots should we have?
Ok, so you have a big family, you have 9 aunties, 39 cousins and that one weird uncle. But let’s be honest here, is a photo with Uncle Jim and the cousin you’ve only seen twice since you were 10 years old worth spending an extra 30 minutes of your drinks reception taking group photos. Before the day I’ll send you my pre wedding questionnaire which includes your selected group shots, here is an example shot list which would take roughly 20 minutes.
A + B with A’s Immediate Family (parents and siblings)
A + B with A’s Immediate Family (as above but with siblings partners and children if applicable)
A + B with A’s Parents
A with A’s Parents
A + B with A and B’s Parents
A + B With B’s Immediate Family (parents and siblings)
A + B with B’s Immediate Family (as above but with siblings partners and children if applicable)
B with B’s Parents
A + B with bridal party (bridesmaids, ushers etc.)
This is a guide, you may have step parents etc. so we can add those in, but to me this gets all the main people covered and will get you through the group shots quickly and easily.
Also, if you decide you want a group shot of you and your friends from uni or work, or even uncle Jim a bit later in the day when you’re both a bit more relaxed then I’ll be right there, you just need to ask : )
Have two people you trust to help gather people for photos.
So remember, I won’t know everyone at the wedding, so it’s best to have a couple of people, one from either side of the family, who can help round people up. If I have to step away to find people then it’s going to add time. It also can’t be you guys, everyone will want to talk to you, if you step into the crowd, you’ll not escape for 10 minutes! This is also not the job for someone who’s super shy or the usher who’s likely to disappear to the bar! It’s a job for someone you trust, who has the self confidence to round people up. Let them know before the day and share the shot list with them and we’ll smash it!
Have fun with it!
One of the things I do like about the group shots is quite often after the nice one, people will just mess about and it can actually be a great candid moment. You want to mess about a bit, do it! You want your friends to grab you and hold you up, crack on! Look, all I care about is that you have fun and get great photos, that’s it!
This post is meant to help you get the family photos you want in the easiest, quickest and least stressful way possible, to get them in the bag so you can get to the party and I can capture those candid moments you really love. If we follow this outline then they’ll be no problem at all!