How to spend less time taking important group photos

March 15, 2020

“Must have” wedding group photos and how to avoid spending the whole day taking them

I know that you just want to have fun on your wedding day and leave everything up to me when it comes to photos (after all that’s what I do!), but I always encourage my brides and grooms to seriously consider a few family photographs. They’re SO valuable for the future. What we don’t want happening, though, is spending your entire cocktail hour looking for lost uncles and smiling for 97 different combinations. Your cheeks will hurt and your patience will suffer. Here are my top tips for what you can to in advance of your day, and then leave it all up to me to get it right.

Family photos or not – that’s up to you, but trust me when I say that down the line your family photos will mean a lot to you and the people in them. Who knows when you will all get together again, and at what age? We don’t want them to take up an unnecessary amount of time on the day so it’s important that we have a game-plan. Leave the rest up to me!

Where to take family group photos on your wedding day?

Outdoors is preferable, as it provides the best and most even light for many faces at once. If the weather isn’t great, we can move indoors (then I will often use artifical lighting), but there needs to be substantial space to accommodate your group sizes. Moving indoors can affect quality and aesthetic of your photos depending on the space available. This is why it’s SO important to schedule group photos in your timeline ahead of your wedding day, so that we know there’s time for this while it’s still light outside (and while your guests are still pretty sober).

How much time do you need for each wedding group?

On average we spend 2-4 minutes per group. Try not to go over 20 min in total, which means up to 6 combinations which is perfect to include two close family shots from either side, a couple of larger extended family groups, and your bridal party.

My best tips for organising group photos (so you don’t have to run around looking for missing people)

Organise your group list ahead of time

After you send me your list ahead of the wedding, I’ll reorganise the order of them if necessary. I often start with groups containing kids and/or elderly people as they may be bored/tired quickly and should be let off as soon as possible.

Appoint someone in charge of rounding people up

Someone who knows most faces and names should be in charge to gather the troops, so appoint a bridesmaid and a groomsman/usher who would know most people.

Don’t go overboard with combinations. Keep it simple!

If you find yourself creating a long group shot list with many small groups of 2-4 people, consider making a few larger groups instead. I advise 10 combinations max, but a few combinations can be done with one group as long as the people are already there. Very large groups would need to be taken outside or it may take a while to organise (using chairs or benches). There’s no point in taking it if not everyone is showing in the photo!

Consider starting with a larger group and peeling off or adding on people as we create a smaller/bigger group. For instance, start with grandparents, parents, siblings + their partners and kids, removing partners and kids, then siblings, then grandparents to be left with just your parents. See an example below:

  1. Bride & Groom + Bride’s parents, siblings and grandparents
  2. Bride & Groom + Bride’s parents
  3. Bride & Groom + Groom’s parents, siblings and grandparents
  4. Bride & Groom + Groom’s parents
  5. Bride & groom alone with parents respectively (if necessary)
  6. Bridal Party (a few different combinations)
  7. One large group shot of everyone (from above)

Friend groups and smaller groups can be taken randomly through the evening

We can gather friends for a quick group photo as the party goes on, and sometimes it’s easy to have your DJ call this out in the evening. If you don’t want to include another group photo to your formal list before your meal, we can do some indoor friend groups later. The same goes for photos with one or two people, like your best friend who came all the way from Australia!

Keep in mind, I can only guarantee photos you write down on your group list. But if the list is very long or detailed, it will keep me from focusing on what I’m really there for: the candid, fun and unexpected moments. If you’d like an impromptu photo with someone at any time, just come and find me!

Why have a second shooter at a wedding? Help with group photos!