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Choosing Your Group Photos: Tips & Advice

Suffolk wedding photographers, wedding photographers Suffolk, Sam and Louise Photography

Choosing which group photos to have can be a pretty daunting task. As we specialise in natural, documentary style coverage we tend to find that the overwhelming majority of our couples want very few, if any formal group photos- yet parents or more traditional guests typically expect lots of family pictures. It can be difficult to get the balance right between what you want and pleasing your loved ones.

Our rule of thumb is this- unless it’s a photograph that you personally would have hanging on your wall or otherwise on display in your home, don’t bother (or perhaps as a Facebook cover photo- oh how times have changed!)

No one likes waiting around for photos. After 10 minutes it’s boring.  People want to go to the loo, enjoy their canapés, catch up with loved ones- not be herded like sheep and yo-yoed back and fourth for various pictures, most of which will never see the light of day after the initial “awww”. We bumped into one of our 2013 brides at another wedding recently and we got chatting about their photographs. What she said was pretty poignient and echoed exactly what we try to convey to our clients. She told us “We still look at our photos all the time, but we never look at the group ones. They’re beautiful, but we just don’t look at them” we hear this time and again.

Suffolk wedding photographers, wedding photographers Suffolk, Sam and Louise Photography

So how do you go about finalising which photos you do want?

Personally, what we recommend is no more than 10 formal photos. That is potentially up to 20 minutes depending on the various combinations and availability of guests. Trust us, twenty minutes is plenty of time to be standing around grinning.  The reason we suggest this is that guests always bring cameras and you will be pulled and pushed around from pillar to post regardless of what photos you ask us for.

Quite often we’ll finish off a batch of formal photos, only for the Bride and Groom to be jumped on by eager friends and family, all wanting to take the exact same photos that we’ve just taken. This, I suppose goes back to days gone by when only the bride and groom were allowed access to their photos, so those with cameras will be trying to get their own….. Unless of course you are having an unplugged wedding (see more about that here )

If you will be allowing guests to access your photos after the wedding please, please please for your benefit (and ours) educate them before the big day and let them know that they will be able to see the photos. It stops eager beavers jumping into the middle of the aisle to get a shot (blocking us), it reduces the amount of time you’ll spend being papped by guests and it means you’ll have significantly more time to actually chat with and enjoy the company of those who have come to share in your special day- all the while we’ll be capturing beautiful, natural shots which people truly will adore.

Anyway (sorry) the point I was making is that unless you are going to have it hanging on your mantelpiece, then a non-professional photo of you and all your uncles, (or whatever it is you’ve been roped into) will usually suffice. So get the photos you want as a couple and all others will be taken anyway by guests whether you want them or not!

What you need to remember is that you do not have to have a photo with everyone and you don’t need to have tonnes of shots of people all in a line. Photos of all of his family, followed by all of her family, followed by friends and so on just gets people huffy- especially on warmer days. Again, think to yourself- is this mantlepiece (or cover photo) material.

Obviously all family situations are different and each couple will want different things, but as a general rule shots which are great to have formally documented (& which will also make great gifts) are:

  1. Bride & Groom with Brides parents
  2. Bride with Brides parents (& siblings if applicable)
  3. Bride & Groom with Grooms parents
  4. Groom with Grooms parents (& siblings if applicable)
  5. Bride & Groom with Grandparents, God parents or other special relative(s)
  6. Bride & Groom + Bridesmaids, Ushers and Best Man
  7. Bride & Bridesmaids
  8. Groom & Ushers and Best Man
  9. Groom & Best man

We can then capture any other important ones more informally at various stages of the day.

For example, photos of the bride or groom with their mum or dad can be taken prior to the ceremony assuming you allow enough time for prep.

Photos with bridesmaids can be shot towards the end of bridal prep, or when you get a spare moment in the evening. Not only is this a time saver, but it adds a different dimension to your coverage as you wont have 40 photos with the same backdrop.

Suffolk wedding photographers, wedding photographers Suffolk, Sam and Louise Photography

Yourselves  (& your guests) can always pull one of us aside throughout the day. There’s no pressure from us to get everything in that little gap between the ceremony and your meal unless you are pushed for time lighting wise. You can even wander off  after your meal when everyone is a bit more relaxed and capture some fun and informal shots!

Ultimately, if you hand us a list or your “must haves” and a guest (or guests) want something different, please do not hesitate to refer them to us. We’ll be able to meet their needs and capture the photos they want too, or if appropriate advise them why we’re unable to at that time.

“Formals” certainly do not have to be formal and they don’t have to be mundane. Please do not hesitate to let us know what you like and what you want and we can plan for your photos accordingly.

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