We’ve all been to those weddings where we seem to stand around for ever waiting for the formal wedding group photographs to be taken. We’ve all been that couple hiding when it came to having to get in the BIG group shot. No-one wants to stand around for hours, and formal group shots can get a little dull at times, so here’s my advice when it comes ensuring your Wedding Group Photographs don’t deteriorate into a two hour long photo session.
Make a list of your essential group shots. I normally tell my clients to do no more than 8 – that way, we can get the essential guests of honour (parents, siblings, aunties, grandparents, wedding party) done and dusted in 20 minutes. I send out a questionnaire to my couples in advance so I have the list and can whittle it down if needs be. Make sure you send a copy of your list to your best shouty friend for on the day coordination.
Wedding group photographs don’t have to be formal. I’ve done family groups on hay bales, sofas and park benches. The one thing to remember however, is that it depends on the style of your wedding. If you’re getting married in a castle or stately home, it’s inevitable that your group shots might be a little more formal than if you were having an outdoor rustic wedding in a tipi. So work with your photographer when it comes to getting the shots you want but remember, the photographer knows best and basically it comes down to lighting. The best lighting for group shots is nice flat light – bright sunlight and you’re all gonna squint!
I generally tell my couples that 8 group shots will just be enough to cover all the important stuff, and once you get past 8, you start getting bored. Group shots take time – as photographers, we have to ensure mum’s fascinator isn’t poking Granddad in the face, that your aunty has put down her iPad and that drinks, bags and coats aren’t cluttering up the frame. Basically, these things take time, so if you want to spend more time enjoying yourself, try and stick to smaller groups and we can get them over and done with quick sharp.
I like to have a dedicated shouty person to help me when it comes to formal wedding group shots. She has a list, I have a list and together we corral the guests and shoot them in a conveyer belt style. Not all group photographs will be as stylised as a Vogue cover, but if you do want that, you need to build in extra time to get everyone organised.
If you want a cool wedding squad picture, build yourself a good ten to 15 minutes to get that in. These things take time to set up and get everyone organised and whilst I’ll have set up seating etc in advance, it requires a little bit of patience to get all your bridesmaids and groomsmen to sit in the right spot, and paying attention. I normally add in a ten minute session as an extra with the wedding party to get some fun bridesmaids and groomsmen shots on top of the normal 8 formals.
A big group shot isn’t so popular these days. If you do want one tho, remember to build in a good ten minutes to get it sorted, because when it comes to weddings guests, they’d rather be drinking than standing around for a photo. Guests run off to the loo, feed babies, check in to hotels and numerous other things during the wedding day, so if you want to get it done, build it into your timeline. For group shots bigger than about 20 people, your photographer will need a helping hand. Big group shots need to be photographed from high up, so check that your venue has a window they can shoot from or wide stairs in the gardens.
We all know that working with children and animals is tricky and this also applies to weddings. Kids don’t find weddings thrilling sadly… they’d much rather be off sliding across the dance floor on their knees or getting dirty playing in the mud. My advice is to get one quick shot of them at the start of the celebration before they ruin their new outfit but if they don’t play ball, don’t try and force them otherwise there will be tears before bedtime.
So the thing with wedding group photographs is that we need to get them done before dinner – generally. This is down to the fact that mum will want to take off her hat, make-up will get smudged thanks to crying through the speeches, bridesmaids might spill something on their beautiful gowns, and best men tend to enjoy a little drink or two. So get your important shots done before dinner! We can always do things like ‘Uni mates’ after dinner when everyone is a little more relaxed.
Just remember that your photographer is working to your list. If a picture with your favourite uncle is really important, put it on your list. That way, it won’t get forgotten about and everyone goes home happy.
For more information about wedding group photographs and to book your date in the diary, contact Shelly now. Leeds wedding photographer, Yorkshire photography by Shelly Mantovani at Toast of Leeds. If you’re getting married in Leeds or elsewhere in Yorkshire, get in touch by visiting my photography website at www.toastofleeds.co.uk or you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. I photograph weddings across the UK in tipis, barns, country houses , iconic hotels, Industrial warehouses, town halls and cool city boozers . For more information and to check availability, contact me now.