Group Wedding Photographs The Best Advice in 2024

Group wedding photographs, to be honest, no one enjoys them. However, they are also must-have photographs on a wedding day. There is just no way of getting away with it. There are some you really need to have and many you don’t.

The problem with group wedding photographs is they take up valuable time when you should be having fun at your wedding. As the bride and groom, you need to be there for every single group photograph!

Add to that a warm summer’s day in June, July, August or September at 1.00 PM with the sun high in the sky. Heavy wedding dresses and layered three-piece suits. It can be very uncomfortable!

My opinion on group wedding photographs is this. They have to be captured as fast and efficiently as possible.

A True Story

The photographer from this story shall remain nameless.

There was once a couple, who hired a fantastic wedding photographer to record their wedding day (he was brilliant). A month before the wedding this future bride and her future groom sat down with this warm and modest photographer at their pre-wedding consultation to discuss their wedding photography. When asked about formal group wedding photographs the bride handed the photographer two pages of A3 paper.

On those pieces of paper were 58 separate group photographs!

Why was this bad? Well, the wedding was due to take place on the first Saturday in September. We were having an Indian summer. The photographs were going to be from 4.00 PM with the wedding breakfast at 5.00 PM. One time slot you cannot miss is the start of the wedding breakfast as the food is cooked and ready. Delay is not an option.

The Logistics & Reality of Group Wedding Photographs

Take some time and think about the logistics of taking 58 wedding photographs. To do this will require all your guests to be in a large group together waiting to be called. I, as the photographer, do not know your guests. Add to this, the moment the wedding ceremony is over, guests scatter to all parts of your wedding venue! Each photograph, on average, will take about 2 minutes (an underestimate) for each group. Therefore, 58 groups photographs x 2 = 1 hour and 46 minutes and bored wedding guests.

I explained this, the bride replied “I am the bride and that is what I want”.

In NORAD alarm bells went off. On a panel red lights started flashing! Generals were called and the President was informed immediately.

An hour to take 58 photographs! On the day of the wedding, the sun was virtually going supernova. The wedding guests did indeed scatter. Just 11 photographs in and the bride called the photographs off and decided to go inside, have a drink and cool off.

The Tradition of Group Wedding Photographs

The tradition of a long list of formal group wedding photographs comes from the past when photographers were capturing weddings on film. The popular journalistic/documentary style of wedding photography today had not existed then.

Medium format film (real wedding photographers only used medium format cameras) was very expensive and your wedding photographer would only have been with you for a  couple of hours. No photographs of the wedding ceremony. After the wedding, the photographer would work from a set list of groups they would take at each wedding. Once they were done, they were off to another wedding. In the past wedding photographers could attend 3 to 4 weddings on a Saturday.

But we are lucky to be able to use modern digital cameras in 2023.

My Advice Group Wedding Photographs

It is your wedding day, not mine. My advice (but you know best) is to keep the group shots to no more than 12. No one has ever said to me I really enjoyed spending an hour and a half taking those group photographs.

I do not want your memories of your wedding day to be about taking photographs.

Again, this is just my opinion based on my experience of photographing weddings. But instead of standing around for a long period, would you prefer to get these done and get back to your guests? I can assure you one of the common experiences brides and grooms tell me is about how fast the day goes by.

In terms of taking these images, I have to keep 6 things in mind. Lighting. location, timing and efficiency. But those are your photographer’s problems and not yours.

What Group Wedding Photographs Should be Taken?

So these are the minimum number of groups (in my opinion).

1 – The bride, groom and the bride’s parents.

2 – The bride, groom and both sets of parents.

3 – The bride, groom and the groom’s parents.

4 – The bride, groom and bridesmaids.

5 – The bride, groom, best man and groomsmen.


and/or

6 – The bride and groom with the bridal party.

7 – The bride and groom alone.

This keeps movement down to a minimum and parents can be released to get back to the wedding within minutes.

What if I want More Group Photographs?

With family politics, there may be some small variations to the above and there is always scope for you to have more groups if you wish. I suggest you balance those requests with the realisation that more time will be needed. I can take candid wedding photographs of you with your guests in a more reportage way. We do not need to have elderly grandparents waiting on uneven ground in the heat when I can photograph you with them later in a less formal manner. If you do require more groups then the help of the best man to round guests up works very well and helps keep things moving.

How Long Should Group Wedding Photographs Take

Group wedding photographs should take no more than 30 minutes. Longer than that people will potentially get bored and begin to wander off. My record for this section of the day is just 8 minutes when taking my recommended images.

Large Group Wedding Photograph

In case you are wondering. Most couples will also want a large photograph of all the guests together. I separate this image from the formal images. I would normally take a large group photograph straight after the wedding ceremony.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *