Documentary wedding photography – How do I plan my formal wedding group photos?
Whilst I am a documentary wedding photographer and all about capturing the day naturally as it unfolds, I know that there is a place and time in the day for formal wedding group photos. It has become pretty standard to have them and for those who decide to have them, here is a guide as to what is involved and how to plan for them.
Do I need formal wedding group photos?
Only the both of you can decide this. Some have them because wedding guests have travelled far and wide to join you both on the day and you both want to guarantee you have a group mug shot. Some have them because Nanny Pat insists and some have them because they think that is what is supposed to happen. Others choose not to have wedding formal photos because it doesn’t fit with the relaxed atmosphere they have planned, because they don’t want to stand around for 40 mins to an hour starting at the camera and waiting around for people and others don’t have it because they have discussed with me other ways to capture their wedding guests. Discuss why you want them and then have a think about who it would be really important to capture. Think about what you will do with that photo. Will it be printed and framed? Will it be gifted? Or will you skip that page or photo when you look through them?
We want the group photos. What are your tips?
Wedding group photos will take around 30-40 mins of your day. So do ensure you have thought of that within your timings. If you are celebrating the whole day on one site then it can be a little swifter. If you are going to be travelling between the ceremony and reception venues then it may take a little longer and will depend on what time you have to leave the ceremony venue and the time your guests arrive at your wedding reception venue.
Think about where you would like your family photos to take place. If you are not sure then I will choose a suitable spot that is well lit and ever so picturesque.
Consider putting someone in charge:
I will work from a list of names that you provide me for the wedding group shots. It’s highly likely that I won’t know 98% of the people who have listed so I will need help. Choose someone or two (one from either side of the family) who knows the people you have listed. Make sure they have a copy of the list too and is someone who isn’t afraid to speak to a guest and ask them to put their drink down to jump into to a photo. Having this help will mean I can get through the wedding group photos a lot quicker.
I have mentioned ‘list’ a few times. Yes, a list of who you want in the group photo. I strongly recommend limiting the number of group photos to a max of 8. I’m only thinking of the both of you here as you will both need to be smiling from cheek to cheek in alllll of these group photos! That’s a lotta face ache. And achy faces can’t drink without spilling champers.
If you want a whole group photo then we can either start with this or end with this. It will all depend on a few factors and I will happily discuss all of this with you. For the smaller wedding group photos, think of each side of your families and organise the photos into the specific sides of the family. Try to start with grandparents first as you don’t want them standing around for a long while either. Also use first names when listing people rather than ‘Groom’s aunt’ – it’ll make it a lot easier for the helpers to find people.
We want our groupies captured, but can you make them fun?
Yes absolutely! I will always aim to do this. Take a look…..
We want to skip the formal photos – how else can you capture my guests?
CANDIDS baby! If you wanna skip the formals then do. Instead, make sure you both go and speak to all your guests – talk, raise a glass or have a shot. I will follow you around and take in the action while you do. These captured moments inadvertently become your group photos! And probably are the ones you’ll look back at the most and reminisce over.
After more wedding planning tips? Then check out these tips from those who have done it all before over on this blog of foolproof tips. Like the way I document group photos and want yours captured this way? Then head over to the contact page and get in touch.
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