planning your group photographs
Couples often ask me how to best go about planning their group shots, so I've put together a little list of hints & tips to help things run smoothly on the wedding day. You absolutely don't have to abide by these ... every wedding is different and these suggestions may not work for you, but in general I find that a little advance planning does help things run a little a little better ... and should leave you with more time to mingle with guests and drink champagne! :)
1. Write a list of the group shots you’d like in advance. Give it to someone with a loud voice who is good at organising people so that your photographer can be snapping whilst your helper gathers the next group. This will help things run much more smoothly. A back up copy/helper is always a good idea as well.
2. When it comes to picking which groups you'd like ... that's really up to you! I'm happy to cater for as many or as few as you would like. If you're not sure how many group shots you can fit in with your timings then do feel free to get in touch and I'd be happy to help ahead of the wedding day. A guide to what works well is between 8 and 15 groups.
3. Don’t be tempted to make the list too long. Too many combinations will eat into your valuable socialising and drinking champagne time! Think about which ones are important to you; the ones which ones will actually be used.
4. Have the large group shot first. Then the guests that aren’t needed for any more photographs can nip off to the bar. Providing games or entertainment here can work well.
5. Write your list logically. If the Smith family are needed for three photographs, try and order them back-to-back where possible. A bit of planning now will help things run better on the wedding day, meaning you’ll have more time to mingle and be merry. As a guide, if thought-through in advance and executed to plan, ten groups should be captured within half an hour.
6. Be aware that group photographs nearly always take longer than planned. You’ll need to plan time for aunt Mavis to find her handbag, and cousin James to come back from the bar.
7. A good starting point for your group-shot list is by order of importance. There’s a teeny tiny chance that you won’t have time to do all of the group shots for reasons beyond your control. If your wedding breakfast is about to be served, and you’ve run out of time then at least you should have captured the group shots that you really really want. Don't panic though ... I'm happy to be flexible and work some of the shots in after the meal if needed.
8. Let your photographer know if there’s anyone that doesn’t want to be photographed together. There can sometimes be people that don’t get on at weddings, and it will help avoid an awkward situation if you give your photographer a heads up in advance.
9. Make sure that you have time for champagne and congratulations before starting the group shots .... It's time to celebrate!! :-D Factor in at least fifteen minutes for socialisation time. Your guests will quite rightly want to hug and congratulate you here ... and I’m sure you’d like a drink and a bit of chill out time!
10. Think about your ceremony time when planning the photographs. If you're ceremony is at 3pm in December, then it's likely to be dark when you want to take the outside group photographs. It sound obvious but I've known several couples that have had to change their timings arpund because they didn't factor in the light.
11. Let your photograph know if there are any locations that you would particularly like to use for the group wedding photographs. Do be aware that 'plan A' may not always be possible though. If you planned to use a staircase for the photographs but its half in shade and half in sunshine, then your photographer will likely recommend a more suitable alternative on the day. They will be well-practiced at choosing the best spot so that no-one's squinting into the sun, everyone's faces can be seen, and the background is free from cars and other unsightly objects. It's often a balancing act choosing the best location, and it can vary depending on the time of day and time of year.