8 simple steps to making the dreaded group wedding photos way less awkward

 

My wedding photography style over the past 14 years has always been natural, relaxed and fun – I’ve never been into stuffy traditional wedding poses that make you feel anything but yourself. It’s less about standing around and pretending to smile, and more about focusing on the proper lovely things that are happening naturally with your favourite people on your wedding day.

Group photos are a staple of wedding photography, and one you won’t want to miss out on, even if you feel like they’ll be totes awks or boring.

There is an importance to those wedding day group shots – they’re a way to document the VIPs of your life, and when you look back at the photos it reminds you of sharing all those special wedding moments with them. They’re a firm family favourite – the photos that you’ll see hanging on your mum’s wall for decades to come.

I’ve had quite a few couples get in touch to say they’re so glad we did that extra group photo with their gran/uncle/friend in, because sadly in life we do lose people, and those photos become even more cherished.

So here are my top wedding photographer tips for nailing cute group pics that you’ll want to look at all the time forever and ever after your big day.

 

1. Keep the number of groups low

The maximum number of different groups for wedding photos I’d recommend is 8-10 – any more than that, and you and your wedding guests will want to sack it off and head to the bar.

I know you’d much rather be enjoying the canapés and chatting with all your loved ones on your wedding day, so by keeping that number of shots as low as poss, you can do just that.

 

2. Set aside ample time to get the perfect group shots

Wedding guests love to disappear for a drink the minute they are needed, which can be a little frustrating when you’re trying to take lovely group wedding photos.

Because of this, it usually takes longer than you’d think to get the good shots, so make sure you factor that into your wedding timeline, and tell your wedding guests too, so they know what to expect.

I’d set aside at least 45 minutes for group wedding photos, sandwiched between the ceremony and food. Although, it can be quicker if you’re organised and have a couple of helpers (more on that point in a sec).

 

 

3. Think about which photos will mean the most to you

It’s ok to ask for your family’s input if it’s important to you, but don’t let your relatives get carried away with planning dozens of group photos. You don’t really need a group photo with all of your first/second/third cousins and their partners, do you?

In my opinion (as a wedding photographer of 14+ years), you only really need to get the group photos that will mean the most to you – photos with your VVVIPs.

Your wedding photographer will normally be happy to be the baddie (I know I am) and tell your parents that you don’t have time for the exact same group photos that they had at their wedding.

Thankfully, times have a-changed since your parents’ big day, and people can take as many group pics as they want on their phones, while your professional wedding photographer captures more gorgeous photos of your wedding.

 

4. Allocate 2 trustworthy extroverts to help your wedding photographer

Choose two people from your wedding parties who know both sides of your family, and allocate them as group photo helpers – preferably people who are more extroverted and will revel in approaching other wedding guests.

While your wedding photographer is shooting one group, the helpers can crack on with gathering the next group, to make the whole sesh super speedy.

Make sure to tell your helpers well in advance – I’ve had couples write the names of two people on the form I sent them, and when it came to the day they had no idea what they were meant to be doing.

If your wedding photographer is left to do it on their own, it can end up with them spending a lot of time finding people, instead of capturing your lovely moments – it’s like herding cats.

 

5. Write a list of each group, with every person’s name

This is mainly for your wedding photographer and the helpers’ convenience. Name your groups, e.g Couple with x’s family, Couple with x’s friends, and then list each wedding guest’s name underneath.

I’ve had some awkward moments of shouting “friends of the couple,” only to discover that everyone thinks they’re in that group.

Make sure to give a copy of this list to your trusty helpers mentioned above – extra bonus points for them if they bring a pen to tick off who’s been photographed already.

 

 

6. Start with the bigger groups first

Larger group photos tend to take the most organising, so start big!

If you’d love a photo that includes both sides of your families, then start there. Your wedding photographer can then take the next group photo with one side, and then another group photo with the other side.

This way, your wedding guests can be done with their group photos quickly and efficiently, and can get back to enjoying the celebration.

 

But don’t go tooooooo big

I understand that people love having a big group photo with all their wedding guests, but it’s hard to get a shot of ~80 people with their eyes open, and they’ll be so little once the photo is printed that you won’t be able to make each person out. If it’s even printed – in my experience, it’s rare that wedded couples end up printing their big group photo.

It’s also worth noting that one big group shot will take 20-25 mins to execute as beautifully and naturally as possible, and if you’ve only got an hour set aside for group photos, that’s a huge chunk.

That’s time that your wedding photographer could be capturing candid, natural wedding photos. So if you’re limited on time for your reception, I’d rather focus on the photos of you with your best pals and closest family.

 

7. Start with less mobile/elderly/young wedding guests too

If you have any wedding guests who are less mobile, elderly, or little children, it’s a good idea to get those group photos done first, as they may struggle to stand (or stand still) for longer periods of time.

Children also tend to spill things down themselves or get grass stains on their clothes, so get those groups sorted swiftly and they can get back to sloshing everything everywhere as much as they like.

 

 

8. Let your wedding guests know when they’re free from their group shot obligations

The last thing you want is to keep your loved ones hanging around when they could be tucking into the fizzy wine or toppling that giant Jenga tower.

Let your VIPs know when they’re free to leave you be (or ask those lovely helpers to do it for you).

 

Those are all the ways I like to make group wedding photos less awks and more fun as a wedding photographer.

I’m not a perfectionist or traditionalist when it comes to wedding photography – I won’t make you stand in a certain order, or pose with your hands clasped in front of you, and I really don’t want you to be stood around for hours.

I want to smash some lovely wedding snaps that are fun and natural, and then let everyone get back to having drinks, chats and dances ASAP.

If you want a little more wedding photography advice, have a read of my previous blog post 7 cracking photographer-approved tips for relaxed and natural wedding photos, and if you’ve not found your dream wedding photographer yet, check out 6 places you can find amazing local wedding photographers.

 

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