The (dreaded) wedding group photographs :)

That staple of any wedding, the dreaded family and group shots….

We’ve all heard wedding horror stories to do with these photographs; the endless parade of family, close and extended, in combinations that get increasingly and bewilderingly complex:

’Bride and Groom and all the second cousins’,
‘Bride and Groom and their parents ex-partners’, ‘
‘Bride and Groom and all the Groom’s ex-girlfriends…’

They can seemingly go on for hours, overstaying their welcome and cutting in to the precious reception time. Fixed grins getting rapidly strained as the hours drift by and the sun starts to set.


Thankfully there is a better way. Over the last 20+ years I have found a way of creating beautiful family and friends photographs that you will be proud to display over the years and decades that follow the wedding. When the wedding day is long gone you’ll have these group shots to remind you of the people that shared the happiness of the celebrations with you.

Does anybody actually want wedding group shots nowadays?

First of all, are these photographs actually necessary? Surely the photographer will snap the people involved at some stage during the wedding? Does anybody actually want these kind of group shots and are they worth the time and trouble involved?

I would answer that with a resounding ‘yes’. It’s a rare time that family and friends gather together in one place and it’s an ideal time for some informal and relaxed group shots. Time passes so quickly that it won’t be long before you’ll realise that you haven’t seen old so and so for years. At the risk of being morbid, grandparents (and parents) won’t be around forever and if you don’t have some lovely family photographs of everyone looking their best, you’ll have the rest of your lives to regret not permitting your photographer to take a few minutes to organise some family and friends photographs for you.

And it really can take just minutes instead of hours. Part of the preparation for your wedding will involve chatting about your family member, who is important to you and what you would like in terms of family and group photographs. After going through the details, I’ll be able to propose a efficient plan that we’ll run through swiftly on the day, freeing you both up to enjoy the reception.

wedding group photo on steps

Quick and painless wedding family and group photos

Over the years I’ve devised a system that makes this as quick and painless as possible. On the wedding day I’ll usually enlist the assistance of someone close to the family to round a set of family members up and herd them over to the bride and groom. That way, all you’ll have to do is stay put with your other half whilst we usher everyone around you for the photographs and off again. The expressions on your faces are of prime importance to me – you should look like you’re having a good time! I’ll find the best place for the photographs with nice flattering light so you’ll look your best.

bridal party photo

90% therapy – 10% photography

I sometimes joke that organised portrait photography, be it individal shots, couples or group photos, is 90% therapy and 10% photography. What I mean by this is that the technical photography side of things is such a small part of the equation and a great wedding group photograph depends almost entirely on natural, relaxed expressions and the subjects actually looking like they’re enjoying themselves. For this to work, you need an experienced photographer who is used to photographing people. I really enjoy creating wedding group shots for you and this approach means you’ll enjoy the process too.

wedding group photo on bench

How to avoid losing the will to live.

Experience has show me that a wedding couple start to lose it after 6-8 group shots. Grins become fixed, tension creeps in and it all starts to become a bit tedious for everyone involved. Particularly when you can see other people relaxing and enjoying the drinks reception. That’s why I advise keeping the total amount of group shots relatively low, concentrate on close family and friends only and finish it off if possible with a big group shot of everyone. I’d typically organise this just before the wedding meal. That way, we only have to get everyone up and out of their seats the one time as they can go from the big group shot straight in to the wedding meal. It’s a good time of day to do this as it seems to facilitate the flow of guests in to the meal. I like the big group shot- at least everyone is in at least one photograph of the day, comforting if you have a relatively large guest list.

What do you think?

Have you thought about the group photographs at your wedding? Who do you think you’d like in them in when you’re looking at your wedding album in 30 or 40 years time?

I was married in the 90’s and at the risk of sounding clichéd, it really does go so very quickly. No one wants to spend all afternoon grinning inanely away whilst the the time that you’ve allocated to your reception dwindles rapidly but it is well worth spending 8-10 minutes (which is all it takes when properly planned and organised) to create some very special and irreplaceable photographs.

Do get in touch if you have any questions or would like to chat about the photography at your wedding.

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