Getting the Most out of Group Wedding Photography

Group photos are one of the last bastions of traditional / formal wedding photography. Most couples still want to have these, as they are popular with their older family members, but they don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of time on their wedding day getting them done. After all, taking the group photos takes everybody's time that could be spent catching up with friends and family, eating, drinking or just being merry! The following guide aims to ease and speed up the task of getting the group photos done, thus freeing you to enjoy the rest of your wedding day.

You'll be pleased to know that if you chose me to be your wedding photographer, I would take care of all of the below for you. I will discuss with you the day's itinerary and recommend the best time of day to take the group pictures. I will visit the venue(s) beforehand and scout out suitable locations. On the day, I will organise the Wedding Party to get all the people in place and ensure that all the photos are taken as quickly and as painlessly as possible. All you have to do is smile and enjoy your wedding day.  But enough self-promotion, onwards to the guide...

1. Choose your moment

Before the wedding day, have a careful look at the running order / itinerary and decide when the group photos should be taken. Most of the time, it is best to do them straight after the ceremony, as everyone is present (and not yet too dishevelled from the day's celebrations).

2. Location, Location, Location

The location needs to be suitable for group photography (i.e. the photographer must be able to get everybody’s face in the photo). This either involves selecting an overlooking location for the photographer and getting people to look up at the camera, positioning people up an embankment or stairs or both.

Furthermore, the location needs to be as close as possible to where the people were just before the group photography session. Getting a hundred or more people to walk long distances is just not practical.

The location needs to have space for people not needed in particular shots to be able to wait without getting in the way of the photography.

Finally, always have both an indoor and an outdoor location ready if at all possible.  After all, one can't leave anything to chance when the British summer is concerned.  :-)

3. Get your list ready ahead of time

You need to have a clear idea of what group shots are important to you. Here at SolevWeddings, I will provide you with a 'starter for 10' list of group shots (see below), which you can quickly whittle down to the ones that are important to you, whilst inserting ones that are specific to your family and friends. I will then use this custom list on the day to ensure that all desired group shots are captured.

4. Start big and whittle them down

Always start with the biggest group (everyone at the wedding) and gradually whittle it down to the smallest. This way the people who won’t be needed any longer can move way and catch up with others or grab a drink at the bar and not have to hang around and possibly get in the way of the shoot.

Trying to do it the other way is much harder, as there are bound to be long delays, whilst someone is sent to get Uncle Derek from the bar for the next shot. :-)

5. Use the B-Team

Finally, remember that you will be very busy on your wedding day and the last thing you’ll need is to be chasing after people for the group shots. Before the wedding put your photographer in touch with one or more members of your bridal party (typically a best man or bridesmaid) and get them to work together on getting everyone else in position and making sure that all the shots you want have been taken. Remember that your wedding photographer is not going to know anyone beyond the bridal party, so getting someone who knows the ‘key players’ will speed up matters and ensure that your group shots are complete and accurate.

To start you off on the right track, we have listed a list of typical wedding group photos. Whilst it does not cover every permutation (it never could), it will form a good base for your group shot list.
  • Bride and groom with the full congregation (everyone at the wedding)
  • Bride and groom with entire (immediate & extended) bride’s family
  • Bride and groom with entire (immediate & extended) groom’s family
  • Bride and groom with bride’s immediate (parents, siblings & children) family
  • Bride and groom with Groom’s immediate (parents, siblings & children) family
  • Bride with her parents
  • Groom with Bride’s parents
  • Groom with his parents
  • Bride with Groom’s Parents
  • Bride with her siblings
  • Groom with Bride’s siblings
  • Groom with his siblings
  • Bride with Groom’s siblings
  • Bride and groom with the Wedding Party (Bridesmaid(s), Best Man/Men, Usher(s), Flower Girl(s) and Page Boy(s)/Ring Bearer(s))
  • Bride and groom with Flower Girl(s) and Ring Bearer(s)
  • Bride with bridesmaid(s) and Flower Girl(s)
  • Bride with bridesmaid(s)
  • Groom with bridesmaid(s)
  • Bride with Chief Bridesmaid / Maid of Honour
  • Groom with Best Man/Men, Usher(s) and Pageboy(s)
  • Bride with Best Man/Men
  • Groom with Best Man/Men

I hope this guide was of use.  If you have any questions on this or any other wedding photography topic, feel free to get in touch!

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