HOW TO PLAN YOUR GROUP PORTRAITS
During your wedding day, there are certain sections that are traditional and follow a certain schedule and the formal photos can be included in this list. For some, this will seem quite boring but they are necessary if the lucky couple want to have photos to remember the day. For this reason, you need to find a photographer who will inject a little fun into the process to make it as painless as possible for the guests.
When? - Normally, the group portraits will take place a short time after the ceremony or even before depending on if you opted for “the first look”. If this isn't possible, it will happen as soon as all the formalities have been completed. After the ceremony itself, it is often the friends and family that slow down the process by coming to congratulate you and your partner so it is absolutely normal to wait twenty minutes or so for this to die down. With that in mind, you need to prepare for all the hugs and kisses coming your way after those magical two words!
In the fall/winter, we may have a little less time to play with as the sun will start to set quite early. If you are getting married mid-afternoon and need the photos taken immediately after the service, you could always walk into a back room after going down the aisle as a married couple. Then, a loved one can gather everyone together and you can simply come outside and join the group in front of the camera.
How? - Of course, a professional photographer will not know who is who so it can be beneficial to have a helper who will organize everyone. If not, another solution would be to write down names and a brief positional chart so the photographer can call names and place them correctly. If you choose a helper, it will normally be someone from the bridal party who isn't in the group portraits. Although you don’t want them to be shouting at people, it is wise to choose someone with confidence who can arrange everybody correctly.
Length - If everyone is close and ready for the group portraits quickly, the process will just take a couple of minutes. Of course, there will be a traditional time period where hats are found, sunglasses are taken off, and drinks are downed but the photo itself will take just seconds. If the group is quite large, it may take a little longer to ensure that everyone is looking the right way and not blinking but it will still go by fairly quick.
Who? - Ultimately, this is up to you and your partner but don’t choose too many as your guests will become impatient and the photos will take a longer period of time. Normally, the following are common and then any added are just seen as extras;
- Bride with parents
- Groom with parents
- Bride with family
- Groom with family
- Bride and Groom with both sets of parents
- Bride and Groom with both families
If you want a picture of everyone who attends, this is always a fun way to end the session and you can normally laugh along with the photographer as they go further and further back as more people join. Other than that, you can do smaller groups of guests (especially if the reception is nearby and people can leave to save hanging around when finished).
Where? - If possible, you can find a location close to the ceremony that doesn’t require a trek to walk to afterwards. Normally, the photographer will look for shade as this provides the best opportunities and it means that your guests won’t become impatient in the heat. If there are time restrictions or lack of mobility in the party, the photographer will normally look for somewhere directly outside the location of the ceremony.
Summary - There is often a lot of concern regarding the large group photos but although the pictures are important, the more important factor is that everyone is in them. As long as your family and everyone involved can see the camera, the camera can see them so make sure everyone knows this.
Remember, before the best man starts breakdancing on his head or doing the worm, these are the pictures that will be in the albums and will be shown to future generations. If you want one wacky picture at the end, this will normally be possible. Sometimes, the wedding day itself goes by in a whirlwind and then you suddenly wake up the next morning with a headache; a photographer ensures that the memories will last forever.