Wedding Group Photos

Wedding Group Photos by Jo Hughes - Wedding Photographer Surrey

Tips for your wedding day

The photos below are taken at a number of wedding venues across Surrey, Sussex & Kent including Penshurst Place, Smallfield Place, Nonsuch Mansion, Coltsford Mill, Horsley Towers, Savill Court, Fulham Palace, Dartmouth House, Burford Bridge, Buxted Park, Manchester Town Hall, Beaverbrook Estate, Wotton House, Fetcham Park, and Great Fosters.

My tips & advice

As a wedding photographer I recognise that Wedding Group Photos can sometimes be a heavily debated issue.  My advice would be to always have a few important group photos, but to think it through in advance and don’t have too many.   Your parents and older generations always like to have the group photo keepsake, and in future years it may well become important to you too.  I have been contacted a number of times in the later years after my clients’ weddings to say how important a certain shot has become after loved ones have departed or circumstances have changed.  And let’s be honest, it is not often you have all your family in one place – sometimes 3 or 4 generations – so it is the ideal time to clinch that group photo for future posterity.

One thing I will be honest about, is how frustrating it can be getting your guests to move, stop chatting for a few minutes, and listen to where they are being asked to go!  So my top tips for wedding group photos to be relaxed and easy would be:

  1. Find a backdrop near to the canapé / drinks reception action that has pleasing light and background for your group photos, but doesn’t require your guests to move very far.  This will help the process run smoothly and efficiently. Light is very important so it is best to take advice from your photographer on where this location may be.
  2. Always plan in advance the shots you want with your photographer.  I always do a run through of the groups – and make sure I have all the names – this way I can organise the group photos on the day without the bride and groom needing to get involved.  I usually ask in advance which member of the grooms party or a sibling knows most of the families and will be helpful in getting them organised.  Someone with a louder voice than me is helpful too, and I find guests prefer being told what to do by someone they know rather than the wedding photographer!  This is mostly due to their own past bad experiences of a bossy photographer and I am always delighted at the compliments I get for how well organised and calm my wedding group photos are.
  3. To keep the formal wedding group photos to less than 20 minutes I always make sure I have done the bridal group party photos separately before the ceremony – so the bride & her bridesmaids and the groom and his groomsmen.  This way I only have the full bridal party wedding group shot of everyone to do later after the marriage ceremony.
  4. I recommend keeping the number of formal group photos to less than 10.  I have a list of my suggestions, which includes the Bridal Party, both sets of parents, bride’s parents, bride’s family, groom’s parents, groom’s family and then any wider ones specific to you, but still keeping it focused.  It’s important to know if family to you just means siblings, or if that includes partners, cousins, second cousins etc. It saves time on the day if we have agreed this in advance.  I will streamline the order so there is as little changing around as possible and we move through the list efficiently and quickly. I am always discreet and respectful when managing divorced parents and new partners, if I have all this information in advance it saves any awkward situations.
  5. Think about who will want the group photo after the wedding, and whether you or any of your family will display it on the wall or in an album.  If not, it’s probably best not to include it in the formal wedding group photos, but just include those friends and family in the natural unposed shots.  As a documentary wedding photographer I roam about all day and try and make sure everyone is included in the natural wedding photos.
  6. I like to do the formal wedding group photos quite soon after the ceremony before people have wondered off to change their shoes, check into the hotel or the bridesmaids have put down their bouquets etc!  If your guests know in advance this is the plan that is also helpful.  I like to take no more than 20 minutes as this then leaves us time for some Bride & Groom shots in the grounds of your wedding venue (usually just the three of us away from prying eyes!) and some fun shots with your bridesmaids and ushers if that is something you would like.
  7. Talk to your photographer about key people before the wedding day.  If you have a special Grandma who you would like a wedding photo with, tell me in advance and I will make sure it is included.  You may have a friend who has travelled from overseas and you want to make sure you have a wedding photo just with her – tell me in advance and then I can build this into my A list of people shots during the day.  This way these shots don’t have to be incorporated with the main wedding group photos keeping that process sleek and efficient.
  8. If you have parents who have been quite involved in helping you plan your wedding – (perhaps sometimes more than you would have liked!) I find it is best to show them the list of your wedding group photos in advance so they don’t try and add some extra groups on the day.
  9. One final tip is to make sure you look at MY camera!  As the official professional photographer these are the ones to focus on during the wedding group photos.  There may be other guests with cameras and phones trying to get a shot, but it is best if all eyes are looking at the professional photographer at this point to ensure the success of the wedding group photos.

I am mainly a documentary photographer who takes natural shots of the day as it is happening.  For me, the real beauty of a photograph is how it tells your story and captures emotions, humanity and soul.  But my success as a professional photographer is as much about my passion to capture the spontaneous moments, as it is about my ability to create images. Subtle guidance is key to natural and relaxed photography.  You will love these photos in equal measure with the natural unposed ones, but with different emotions. I always try to make the experience of the wedding group photos fun – this way you will look back on with them pleasure and warmth.  (If you have been bossed around curtly you won’t feel quite the same!)

  I combine the spontaneity of documentary photography with a small amount of direction to ensure the best light and flattering photos – nothing too staged and posed – my images have a natural and fresh feel.  many of my clients book me for this reason, and are surprisingly pleased how much they love the group photos too. 

Here is a collection of my wedding group photos.  I love how they show that group photographs can be natural and fun too.