“We don’t like having our photos taken and don’t want to pose for any photos, but we feel like we need to get some wedding group photos. How do we get them done as quickly as possible and make sure we don’t miss anyone?”

Garrison Hotel wedding group photo

When I meet new couples to plan their upcoming weddings this is something that comes up almost every time.

I always share the same 4 tips that I am sharing with you now.

I class myself as predominantly a documentary wedding photographer.

Typically I prefer to stay out of people’s way and capture the day as it unfolds.

I also acknowledge that weddings often bring together family and groups of friends who rarely see each other.

As such are usually the only chance you are likely to get with everyone both together and looking decent.

Sheffield Winter Garden Wedding Group Photo

So, here are my 4 tips for making this whole process as quick and painless as possible.

1. Make a list

This is something I tell every couple when we first meet and then try to remind them each time we catch up before their wedding day.

Long before your wedding day, start making a list of the groups of people you must get photos of.

Even the obvious ones.

The only people who really know what photos are essential are you, the bride and groom.

Thing is, you will be in such a whirlwind of emotion that you will probably forget someone, that’s why thinking about it in advance is so important.

It doesn’t need to be extensive, just make sure you include the essentials so that we can check them off as we work through the pictures, then any extras we get are a bonus.

I always get such a sinking feeling when someone gets in touch with me after I have delivered their wedding photos and they ask whether we got any photos of a particular group of people and I have to remind them that they have the full collection already.

This is an easily avoidable situation.

2. Appoint a wedding group photos coordinator from within your wedding party

As your wedding photographer, chances are I don’t know everyone in your family, so giving me the list is pretty useless.

What we need is someone who knows most of the people who will be in the photos and, crucially, is also assertive and confident enough to be able to organise the crowd into the right groups at the right time.

I love making this suggestion at planning meetings because as soon as I tell a couple that I need someone who is loud and assertive from their wedding party, just about every time there is an immediate response as they both think of the same person at the same time.

A good group photo assistant can make or break the photo session. I am pretty assertive when I need to be and can direct people to look in the right direction and pose correctly, if the assistant can have the next group of people waiting in the wings ready to take their places the whole process can be done in no time and everyone can get to the bar.

3. Warn people in advance if they are going to be called up for a photo

This is less critical but will definitely help if you get the chance.

If people know they will be expected to stand for a group photo immediately after the ceremony then there is less chance of them wandering off at the crucial moment.

Discussing group photos in advance with your close friends and family can also help you to put together your list, you never know who might want a precious photo that you hadn’t thought of.

If you would like to talk to me about photographing your wedding, have a look on my How Much page to get the details.

4. Plan a location in advance

Depending on your wedding venue this may be a no-brainer, but it still worth giving some thought.

Most wedding venues give some consideration for group photos and have a well looked after area that is designed for such a task. If your venue has one of these then you don’t really need to give this much thought, we’ll go there.

If on the other hand your venue is a city hotel or other such location where there is no scenic open space then we will need to be creative, and that is not really something we want to be doing on your wedding day.

autumn themed wedding

So, this is where planning and perhaps a pre-wedding venue scout is in order.

I am happy to do these on my own if you are not available but it is much better if you guys can come along too so that we can make sure we are all happy.

We might even be able to get a few test shots to make sure ;-).

This is particularly pertinent when there are multiple locations involved.

If you are marrying at one location, such as a church or registry office and then moving on to a reception venue afterwards, we really need to make sure we know where the photos are going to be taken in advance.

Worst case is if we leave the church, arrive at the reception venue and find they have nowhere suitable, and only at that point do we realise we should have done them when we were back at the church.

As unlikely as that sounds, it is definitely worth giving some though, especially if you want to attempt a photo of everyone.

Bonus Confetti tips

  • Plan on who is bringing confetti – don’t leave it to chance.
  • Aim for around half the number of guests to have confetti at the ready, the more the better.
  • Find out in advance how the venue feels about you throwing it on their grounds. Many have designated spaces, make sure you stick to those places if you don’t want to upset them.
  • I (as your photographer) will direct everyone as best I can. I am likely to be the one to initiate the confetti throwing and will get everyone into the best position for the photos. Sometimes, an eager Aunt might decide to start throwing hers when nobody else is ready, triggering a slow trickle of others throwing theirs. If you see this happening, stop them!
  • For guests, when throwing the best technique is to throw up and over, not in the bride’s face.
  • As the bride and groom, don’t worry about where the confetti is going, just keep smiling and looking either at the camera or at each other.

Well, I hope that was helpful. If you have any other tips for group wedding photos or confetti why not share them in the comments below.

For those still on the lookout for a photographer for their wedding, my contact details are below.

See ya soon!


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All the photos on this page were taken by JLM Wedding Photography. 

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