entire wedding party group photo at town hall hotel in london

5 Tips to Make Your Group Photos as Painless as Possible

Group Photo Tips

Ever been to a wedding where the family photos just seem to take forever? You’ve hardly seen the newlyweds during the drinks reception because they, along with half their families, have been collared by the photographer for endless combinations of boring formal shots? That’s not how I do things. If you’re looking for advice as to how to make sure this part of your wedding is a breeze for you and your guests, well you’re in the right place. I’ve photographed 130+ weddings – want to know what I’ve learnt? Keep reading for my best group photo tips.

Ten is the magic number.

When I’m discussing with my couples how I work on a wedding day, I always make it known that I’m not the type of photographer that will take hundreds of formal ‘standing in a line’ photos with all the combinations of everyone you’ve ever met. As a documentary wedding photographer, that’s just not how I like to work.

Instead, in the questionnaire I send out to couples a little before the big day where I ask them to list the group photos they would like, I only leave ten spaces. This ensures my couples really think about the groups they actually want. Hint: don’t just try to get them all because you feel like you have to! When each group takes at least a few minutes to set up (more if people have wondered off to the loo or the bar!) any more than ten can really eat into your drinks reception time.

For some, even ten might be too many – these people are my people. Nothing makes me happier than when that questionnaire comes back and not all of the boxes are filled. I’ve even had one wedding where the couple requested absolutely no formal group photos!

Keep them small where possible.

Do you actually need all your extended family in every family photo? Particularly when most you might only see perhaps once or twice a year. Even if you only have five group shots requested, if all of them include cousins/aunts/uncles this will take more time out of your day than ten small groups. People wander. They go to the bar, the toilet, or even to check in to their room if your wedding is at a hotel and they’re staying the night – so as a general rule the less people required for each photo, the more painless the experience will be.

Designated helpers.

It’s always wise to think about one person from each of the couples’ families can help with corralling people to where they need to be. Remember – as much as I (desperately) want to help with making everything go smoothly, I don’t actually know who most people are other than parents and the bridal party. Someone I can rely on to go and fetch the names I give them always makes things go much faster. Always let them know I’ll be calling upon them too. The amount of times I’ve rolled up to someone and said “you’re my helper!” only to receive a confused look back because the couple didn’t actually tell them!

Prep your people.

It helps enormously if, once you’ve decided which group photos you’d like, you let those involved know that they’ll be needed. Delays can often be avoided if your guests are prepared (after all, they’ve got all night to check in!)

Lastly – have fun with it!

You don’t always need to be stood all in a line facing forward and perfectly posed. Particularly with the bridal party shots, I love to get a few fun ones in there too. It often alleviates the boredom that starts to creep in after the 6th or 7th group photo. Particularly for the couple, but the bridal party as well – if some of them are also your siblings, they’ll have been in the majority of the family photos too!

More into making the most out of your wedding day than having hundreds of posed group photos? I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch here!

Enjoyed these group photo tips? See some other helpful blog posts here.