Group photos – when and how (and how long)
So group photos are one of those inevitable things at weddings: realistically these days it’s more for the older generation as generally Nans’, Mum’s and Dad’s see them as vital.
To be honest it is rather lovely to have a record of all that came to your special day; however, don’t let them take-over and be overbearing in your time line.
In my experience allow 30 minutes or so in your time line for the day for these to happen with the time allowed based on exactly what you want, with whom and in what quantities. ALWAYS discuss this with your photographer well in advance of the day and preferably before you have finalised your time line with the venue so that you can make adjustments if necessary.
You may be asking why I’ve said 30 minutes above: well simply because group photos is not what a wedding day is actually about, nor (in my opinion) something that should dominate the day. Firstly, I want you both to spend as much quality time with each other and your family and friends as you can. While technically you are doing so during group photos, it is not exactly quality time. Also, from experience I find that 30 minutes is about the limit of time before people start getting visibly bored by standing around waiting for the next set to be organised and taken. Finally, formal group photos are not always overwhelming with fun. Therefore why not make them a little bit more fun heading to somewhere in the grounds with your most special people?
If you do proceed to have me play my part in your special day you’ll get a couple of quick questionnaires. They are nothing complex, and if I’m honest really very simple. But, and importantly, they let me know who is the most important to you, and who I should focus on getting into the groups. We can then sit down and work out the best way to make it happen with the least “moving around” for those who are less able. They also let me know if there is something specific about your “extras” you would like documented for example a special poem, or the groom’s shoes.
I’ve found that the following “script” works really well in terms of making sure everyone is covered but in a time efficient manner which leaves plenty of time for you to enjoy space together and also with your family. It also leaves sufficient time to go for a wander with your photographer together to get some couple shots which also tend to be a lot more creative and fun that the group shots.
1 – All your guests at the reception.
This is the big photo in terms of numbers and therefore lends itself best to a bit of fun be it a heart shape, a confetti throw or even both. An important thing to factor in is a little bit of height: given the number of people elevation certainly helps here to make sure everyone can be seen. To this end I’ve normally made sure the venue has a step ladder I can borrow, or there is a fire escape or high level room I can use. Alternatively, I might end up climbing a tree.
2 – Smaller Family/Friend Groupings
So once you’ve finished the larger groups with EVERYONE in them, moving to slightly smaller groups will help us in several ways. Firstly, we can give slightly more prominence to special people, and also because there are less faces in the frame it gives us a chance to have a little more fun!
Here I would suggest going for your family, then your fiance’s family, followed by all the friends. You could of course split your friends into two groups as well, but to my mind you’ve come together as one family today so it feels right to do it together.
3 – Parents
For this set a lot will depend on the make-up of your family but also how many couples are involved. For me the best thing (which also reduces the inevitable politics) is to have the first photo with you as a couple and all parents (and step parents if appropriate) before splitting out to parental sets (for example Dad and Step-Mum etc).
4 – Bridal party
Given the smaller group sizes here there is more latitude here for a little fun: I’d suggest the couple with the groomsmen, then the bridesmaids, and then reducing further for maybe just Best-Man, Maid of Honour and you as a couple.
5 – Grandparents or aunts and uncles as appropriate
6 – Closest friends
7 – Siblings etc
As you can probably guess this isn’t a complete guide – nor can it be! Every family is different, as is the number of people who you can invite to your day. However this is a good starting point to consider working from.
Which Group Photos?
Obviously these are only ideas and family and friendship groups vary drastically between weddings. Also, your feelings on how you’d like the group photos completed and in what fashion is vitally important.
The most important thing is to discuss this with your photographer. At the end of the day they are there to help you make the most important memories happen but cannot do so if they don’t know what is important to you.