Wedding Photography - Group Shots

Although my approach is 90% documentary wedding photography, 9 times out of 10 a couple will ask me for at least a couple of group or family photos.  Often as the request of other family members, and I do encourage this.  I recommend no more than 8 combinations of up to around 8 people and I look for the best light and location to achieve the most creative shots possible.  

 France chateau wedding photography


For this wedding in a castle in Ireland (see full blog post here) the client sent some Annie Leibovitz photographs as inspiration for the group shoot.  In order to achieve her very distinctive style I used studio lights and a lighting assistant.  I must say this is not the norm for me at a wedding but it was great fun to do.  And these were taken before the ceremony as soon as everyone was dressed and ready for the wedding.

wedding photography lismore castle

So, top recommendations for getting the most out of your group photos:

  • Don't ask for too many - I'd recommend 8 maximum - I can do this in about 20 minutes
  • Don't try and fit too many people into one group to avoid it becoming a long line up and people getting lost in the back
  • Be prepared - give your photographer a list beforehand and make sure all those who will be needed know when and where
  • Have a person on the day who knows most of the key people to help the photographer to corral them into place.  Usually an usher with a big, authoritative voice
  • Don't have them too far from the reception - keeping it close by minimises disruption
  • Get them done early - preferably as soon as everyone has a glass of wine in their hand
  • Try to get some done before the wedding - for example the groom and ushers can be done at the church before the ceremony.  Bridesmaids and bride at the house before leaving for the church
  • Don't force anyone to be involved - some people genuinely don't want to be in pictures and it will show!
  • Have a location plan but also a back up
  • Be flexible about timings - it might mean waiting for a shower to pass, or for shade to be available on a very bright day to avoid harsh shadows
  • Consider whether a full group shot is worth the time and effort - if guests can be easily gathered within the reception area and I can hang out of a window then great.  If it means moving 200 people from one area to another this is going to be annoying for the guests and really eat into a lovely reception time and the opportunity to capture many more candid and relaxed photos