The group shots at your wedding – do you really need them?

Marta May Photography_3744

Your wedding photos are so important – they will hold you memories and they will be the one thing you will have left once your wedding day is gone. That’s why choosing the right photographer for you is so important, the photographer that fits YOUR style and personality. The engaged couples these days are a lot more interested in creative photography, something that really captures their true nature and that’s why the term ‘FORMAL WEDDING PICTURES’ or ‘GROUP WEDDING PHOTOS’ is something that doesn’t necessarily fit in the frames of ‘creative wedding photography’. No matter how original the wedding is, every bride and groom will still want a group photo, its only natural, how many opportunities do you actually get to have a photo of EVERYONE you love around you? Personally I don’t like the long lists of formal pictures and they aren’t my favourite pictures of the day anyway, so I’ve done some research and I’ve gathered some amazing thoughts on the group shots – and this is exactly the type of the group photos I’ve always tried to achieve.

”I didn’t actually want any group shots because I prefer the more natural photograph, however, I’m so glad you convinced me otherwise. And even your ‘posed’ photographs look completely natural. Xx” – Sam

”Well.. I like the more natural approach to photography… But it’s a bit like school photography it simply has to be done For the record .. It does not happen often enough that families come together.. Its history in the making!” – Hilary

”I prefer natural shots. We only had minimal formal ones…while they’re lovely photos, they aren’t my favourite. The way people hold themselves isn’t natural, looks forced. I love the one of me and my bridesmaids, because it was going to be a formal one, but turned into the loveliest natural one!! One of my faves. Some of the later formal shots where we were lined up as if to take a formal pic, turned into a natural one as you captured it before we’d even realised it was going to be taken… defo natural shots everytime! X” – Chloe

”From someone who was married many, many years ago – at the time I didn’t want any but the photographer did them anyway…. over time, as we sadly have said farewell to quite a few people who were part of our day, they have become very precious. There is something special about seeing everyone together, despite the fact that they are quite formal compared to the rest of our photos.” – Sue

”I agree that it’s sort of something you feel you need to do (and mum says I have to do!) as it’s not often that the whole family is together, I do prefer the natural photos but the ones you’ve taken are the perfect balance!” – Jenn

”We had a lovely mixture of both. I wanted the few formal group photos just so I can see what everyone was wearing etc and remember who was there the day goes so quickly it’s nice to see everyone all together. Plus it’s a chance to see all the family together and sadly if some of them have passed away, it’s a nice chance to remember them at our special day. I did love the more natural shots too.” – Sarah

”In years to come you’ll appreciate having photo’s of loved ones who are no longer with you” – Carolyn

But in order to have the perfect balance at your wedding – both enjoy the day and have the group photos taken, you have to remember a couple of VERY IMPORTANT things:

1) Don’t have too many pictures on the list – a list of 6-10 is still OK, and remember – if you were a wedding guest, which wedding would be the best? The one where you spent an hour being called out for photographs, or the one where you don’t even remember the photos happening. Have a chat with your fiancé and work out who you want in each shot, be realistic, and ask yourself why you want these photos, will they go in the album, the frame, the wall? And if not – what’s the point of having it?

2) Remember – the group shots take time. Long lists need more time which makes every guest wish they were at the bar instead. The average time to get people to the location and set up group shots is about: 2-8 people = 5 minutes, 9-15 people = 7 minutes, so it soon adds up having 10-15 group shots.

3) Give your ushers or bridesmaids a job – as a photographer, I won’t know everyone, so please delegate the job of rounding up the guests to a member of the wedding party and make sure they are on hand to work with me. Your group shots will be much more painless if you have your groups ready and waiting to be photographed. Make sure everyone who is in a group shot knows in advance when and where they will be needed.

4) Some guests simply don’t want to be photographed – there is always someone who will do nothing but try to make the whole thing worse and last longer, so if they don’t want to be in the photo, just go with it and let the photographer know it’s OK.

5) Stick to the plan! I will ask you for the list of group photos before your wedding – and let’s stick to it. Sometimes a member of your family will ask me to take a different group picture or you might decide you want six more photos. The unscheduled photos take time too – and because of that you will miss out on your own personal time for your portrait shots or it will feel like you’re doing nothing else but posing for the pictures all day long.

6) Get creative, use PINTEREST – I always have secret boards with my couples – you can pin your ideal group shots there and at your wedding make the most of this time and just have fun! Think levels, each group doesn’t have to be just in a line. Have some people sitting, kneeling, standing, mix it up, use chairs, walls, props. Have fun with the photos and try to inject some personality into them too.

7) The group shot – do you really need it? I personally like the group photos – but they have to be taken first. But also have a think – do you really need the group photo? Will you hang it on your wall? You will have natural candid pictures of your wedding guests anyway. On the group picture everyone is just going to be very small/sometimes people hide on purpose, you’re probably not going to be able to distinguish one face from another, or only just. It takes plenty of time (and even longer if you decide to put all your guests in the heart shape). Wouldn’t you prefer a picture of your guests laughing with a drink in their hand instead and spend more time on getting the really amazing informal and creative shots of the smaller groups? The choice is yours.

But the fact is – you just have to have the group shots – as informal as possible, but still elegant, not overdone – just perfect. Do you like the ones below?

West Midlands Wedding Photographers

© 2016 Marta May Photography

Webdesign by Tom Robak