Group photographs are a very traditional and important part of any wedding day. Quite how important was recently brought home to me when my sister and I, feeling a bit nostalgic one rainy afternoon, made ourselves a big pot of tea and dug out her wedding album to have a look back through the photos. Despite some dodgy hair-dos, (did I SERIOUSLY have a mullet when I was a teenager??!), and some quite questionable guest fashion choices, I realised how precious it was to be able to look back at beautifully posed, well-taken, ‘formal’ photographs of family members, some of whom, sadly, are no longer with us.
Getting the group photos done during a wedding is always one of the key pressure points of the day and most of our couples tell us they don’t want to spend too much of their wedding day having these photos done. As part of our pre-wedding photography planning, we always agree with our couples how much time we will spend taking group photos, how many we will take, who will be in them and the locations we will use. That way there are no surprises on the day and we can get all the photos done quickly and efficiently, leaving the bride and groom more time to socialise and enjoy their wedding day. However, for any wedding, here are some general tips for getting your group photos done quickly and efficiently with minimal impact on the rest of the day.
Be Realistic about how much time it will take!
Professional group photographs always, always, always take longer than you might think! Your photographer will normally advise you on how long they will need to get the group photos done. We generally recommend spending no more than an hour of the drinks reception doing group photos, (any longer than that and guests will be getting bored) and we ask for a minimum of 5 minutes for each required group photo. This allows time to find the guests for the photo, get them to the chosen location and make sure everyone in the photo is positioned nicely. So around twelve group photos per hour is a good maximum to have in mind. However, the fewer groups you want photographed, and the more time you give your photographer for each group, the more creative they will be, using different locations and trying some fun poses in addition to the more typical ‘everyone-standing-in-a-line’ pose.
Stick to the Wedding VIPs
A group photo of all guests is a good way to get everyone into at least one ‘formal’ photograph, as well as capturing a record of all the people who were at your wedding. The ‘All guests’ photo does take quite a bit of organising and is going to take a good 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the size of your wedding), so make sure you allow enough time in your schedule if you want to do this. After that, we would recommend keeping the number of people in each group photo quite small, focussing on the VIPs at your wedding (i.e. the wedding party and immediate family). The bigger the group, the longer it takes to find everyone and get the photo. Don’t forget as well, that in big group photos with a lot of people, each person will look quite small, so the more people in the group, the harder it is to see them in the final photograph.
Recruit Some ‘Group Photo Helpers’
We always ask our couples to nominate one or more helpers to assist us in finding the right people for the group photos. Having a helper on hand to fetch people for the group photos makes a MASSIVE difference to how quickly we can get the group photos done. Ideally, your photographer should spend their time taking photos, not running around the drinks reception trying to work out who Aunty Em is!
Where You Lead, Others Will Follow
The bride and groom are most definitely King and Queen on their wedding day, and guests will naturally follow their lead during the day. If you are motivated to get your group photos done, then your guests will be too and the whole process will be much more efficient.
Trust Your Photographer!
Your venue might have a fantastic stone staircase outside, just perfect for group photos, but if the sun is beating down on it, your photographer may rule it out as a photo location. (There is nothing worse than harsh, direct sunlight and squinting guests in a group photo). As part of our photography planning meetings at the venue with our couples, we always discuss the possible locations for group photos, taking into consideration where the sun will be and what the light will be like. We also always agree a ‘Plan B’ in case of rain, so our couples will know exactly where we are planning to do the group photographs. We always recommend trusting your photographer’s judgement as to the best spot for a photo as the photographer will consider a lot of different elements which all contribute to making a great photograph!