How exciting – your wedding is fast approaching! And you’re freaking out over making sure you get all the ‘right’ group photos?? Don’t worry, I’ve got you.
Most people will tell you that group photos are the most stressful part of the wedding day because everyone wants them to be over as quickly as possible, and if you belong to a big family it takes some time and effort to organise everyone. So here are my top tips to help make the group photography part of your wedding day as easy and stress-free as possible.
1. What do YOU want?
If you ask your parents, I bet they’ll quickly come up with a long list of photographs you simply must have! The best thing is to discuss between the two of you, without anyone else present, which group photos are absolutely necessary for you. Then, to avoid conflict on the day, share your list with your parents and your bridal party so they know your plans a week or so before your big day.
2. Do you want a big group shot?
Not everyone decides to do this, but if you do, you’ll need to think carefully about when and where to have it. The best time for a group photograph of everyone is straight after the wedding ceremony. You could even ask your celebrant to announce that you want a group photo right after the ceremony and that everyone should make their way to the agreed location. In terms of location, you could have your guests stand out on the lawn, with your photographer shooting from an upstairs window or up a staircase/step-ladder to get some height so that everyone can be seen. Do also bear in mind that it can take 15-20 minutes to get 80-100 people together, so think about how important this is to you, and if this is really how you want to spend time on your wedding day!
3. Ask your venue where they usually have group photos
Your venue will probably know all the best places to have group photos, couple photos and where to take them if it rains, so ask advice.
4. Keep the number of group photos down
I usually recommend 8 shots which takes 30-40 minutes (allowing roughly 3-5 mins per photo). Ask yourselves – is it really important to have lots of different combinations or will one photo which has everyone in it be perfectly fine? Some family member may have some special requests – perhaps these can be taken informally at some other point in the day. (See No. 10 below.) Also think about what you’re going to do with the photos afterwards. (How much space do you have on your mantelpiece?)
5. Streamline the order
The order will depend on when you schedule the group shots during the day, so talk to your photographer who will be able to advise. If you’re having them straight after your wedding ceremony I usually suggest starting with the largest group and working to the smallest. That way your guests aren’t left hanging around unnecessarily.
6. Listen to your wedding photographer’s location choice
In my view, light is always more important than the backdrop to ensure that you look your best i.e. no squinting into the sun or your group standing in a half sunny/half shady spot. However, if you have your heart set on having your group photos in a very specific spot, have a chat with your photographer and maybe you can have the group shots earlier or later in the day so that the light is just right.
7. Be specific
Put together an ordered list of group shots (together with the names of each person in each group) at least 1 week before your wedding day and send this to your photographer and wedding party. (To make it super easy, I’ve put together a PDF template you can fill out here.)
8. Get your bridal party to help
No one likes a shouty photographer (and me least of all!), so it’s a great idea to give maybe 2 members of your bridal party (those who know the most guests) your group shot list and put them in charge of herding your guests into place at the right time. This way the photos can be done so much more quickly.
9. Have a back-up if it rains
Is there a conservatory at the reception venue? Or a porch? A large staircase with lots of natural light? Your photographer and your venue will probably have some ideas so do ask them. You may also want to build some flexibility into your wedding day timeline in case you need to move the formal photo part of your day around in order to get the best photos.
10. Consider a ‘B’ list
At some weddings, especially where lots of people have travelled from overseas, I suggest having a ‘B’ list of people shots. These aren’t to be done in a formal line-up, but are a few extra shots you’d like to be captured informally during the rest of the day. They’re often shots that don’t need the bride and groom e.g. a photo of the Australian best man and his wife and new baby, or the groom’s parents and their best friends. Doing this can take the pressure off the formal list, but still means these people are photographed. It can also help when there’s pressure from parents to include lots of extra shots on the ‘A’ list!
So, there you have it! I hope this is useful, but if you have any questions, please drop me an email or give me a call.
P.S. If you’re also planning your wedding day timeline, then you might find my Tips on how to plan your wedding day timeline a helpful read.