Almost every wedding includes some traditional group photos of the bride and groom with their family.
These formal portraits are a classic part of the wedding day experience, and despite being a long-standing tradition, are still pretty popular at the majority of celebrations.
But why are family wedding photos still so popular? And how do you make sure you're prepared for them?
Here's an easy guide to everything you need to know about wedding group photos, including:
- What is a traditional wedding group photo?
- Why do weddings have group photos?
- Do we have to have family photos at our wedding?
- A typical wedding photo list
- Should we have a group photo of all our wedding guests?
- How long do group wedding photos take?
Once you know all about wedding group photography, you'll be able to plan the perfect shot list for your wedding, and make sure you're getting the photos that you and your family will treasure forever.
What is a traditional wedding group photo?
These photos are usually the formal wedding pictures of the happy couple and their families and closest friends.
Unlike candid photos, which are taken in the moment, traditional wedding party group shots are posed and planned.
But that doesn't mean they need to be stuffy, there are lots of ways to breathe life into your formal photos.
Why do weddings have group photos?
I've been to weddings all across the home counties, and from barns in Bedfordshire to stately homes in Herts, almost every single one has had formal group photos.
They might be a really old tradition, but wedding party photos are still really popular - even if they have been modernised in recent years.
The biggest reason that you might want to have group photos, is that your family will really love them. Parents and grandparents often want to have a picture of them with you on your wedding day.
What could be nicer for Grandma and Grandpa than a shot of the bride in her wedding dress, standing close and sharing the day?
Planning formal photos means that you're guaranteed to get that shot. You can't be sure that you're going to get much time with individuals during the day, so a traditional wedding photo with the important people in your life ensures you'll get that perfect picture.
It's also nice if you have family or friends who've travelled a long way, or you don't see very often. That picture isn't just a lovely memory of the day, but a message of how much you appreciate them being there.
Group wedding photos are also timeless. How many photo albums have you seen that are full of relatives who've long since passed, young and happy and full of life on their wedding day, surrounded by their family and friends?
These photos are the cornerstone of your family history, and having them isn't just for you, but for your children and grandchildren to look at in the future.
Do we have to have family photos at our wedding?
Well, no! Of course not! It's your day after all!
But before you make a decision, have a good think. There's nothing more difficult than someone who says they don't want any formal photos, but then wants to know why there isn't a picture of them with their flower girl, or Grandma.
It would be lovely if you could get great candid photos of brides and grooms with everyone at the wedding, but in practice that's just not possible.
So if you absolutely need pictures of you and your spouse with anyone, whether that's mum and dad, your godfather, or your best friend from school who's travelled from Singapore to be there - formal wedding shots are a great idea.
A typical wedding photo list
I've seen a lot of different templates of wedding family photo lists, some lists are so short you'll be done in 10 minutes, and some lists are so thorough you'd be there all night!
Of course, the formal wedding photo list is going to be different for everyone, because every family is different, but the usual checklist of essential wedding group photos includes the happy couple and:
- The bride's parents
- The groom's parents
- The bride's immediate family
- The groom's immediate family
- The bride and her bridal party
- The groom and his ushers and best man
- Any special friends or family members
This is a nice short list that is easy for your wedding photographer to work though, and should give you all the essential shots that you or your family might want.
Of course, you might have some extra shots that you want to take, or you might just want wedding photos with your parents and that's you done. It's all entirely up to you!
Should we have a group photo of all our wedding guests?
Now this is a really difficult question, and most photographers have a preference.
Either they'll say "Absolutely! It's a classic, must-have shot!", or they'll tell you "Honestly, it's a bit of a waste of time".
Or, they're me!
I don't actually mind either way, because at the end of the day, it's up to you what you want to do. But there are some important things to bear in mind.
Firstly, finding a good location for a big group photo can be tricky. Even if you've got a big open space available, you usually need to take the picture from a height in order to make as many people visible as possible.
Also, that big space is usually outdoors - which can be an issue if it's cold or rainy.
Next, unless you've got a fairly small wedding, you probably won't be able to pick everyone out of the group photo. The angle usually needs to be pretty wide to get everyone in.
And lastly, there can be quite a bit of wrangling involved. Especially if your group shot is being done at the reception. The bar is open, everyone's mingling - there may even be canapes!
Lots of distractions make it difficult to herd everyone into the right place at the right time.
But if you want to have that photo of everyone there together? Then it's all worth it! So don't be put off if your photographer is a bit less enthusiastic than you.
How long do group wedding photos take?
If you're working out your wedding timeline, and need to factor in your group wedding pictures, it all depends on how many shots you're looking to take.
If you're going by my streamlined essential wedding photos list, then you shouldn't need more than 30 minutes to have every perfect family wedding portrait you need.
But if you've got lots of extra photos you want to take, my advice is to set aside 5 minutes for every picture.
That should be a good indicator of the time it takes to find the right people, get them in position and take a few snaps.
Remember, it's really helpful to have a wedding formal picture list, so that you can make sure everyone you need is close by.
You'll probably get through them all in no time - but there's often someone who's quickly popped to the bathroom (or more likely, the bar!) just before you need them!
Need formal group wedding photos?
I think it's always a good idea to have some formal wedding photos on your big day - even if it's just for mums and dads!
So if you're looking for a fab photographer to capture all the essential wedding photos for you, please get in touch!