Advice for Wedding Group Portraits

What are Group Portraits?

A traditional staple of the wedding day is the group portraits. Also known as family formals, posed group shots or wedding party portraits. 

The group portraits are typically more posed than the majority of the photographs taken during your wedding day, with possibly the exception of the happy couple whom will usually still choose to have some posed photographs of just the two of them.

Cocktail hour (or the time between the ceremony and the meal) is often when the group portraits will take place. There’s no set rule about who should and should not be included in group photographs but in my experience you’ll include everyone in the wedding party, parents, close friends and immediate family children. A photograph with everyone is commonly the starting point and then the portraits are then divided into several sub groups depending on your own set up.

While they’re not as common as they were in weddings gone by, group portraits are nevertheless a good addition to your printed memories from the wedding day.  With many weddings taking a more contemporary and informal approach, groups portraits are less commonplace than the used to be. But there are many great reasons to still include this type of photography in your big day if you choose to. 

Why Should We Have Group Portraits?

Because they don’t have to be posed! Your photographer can stage the photographs to look natural and fun if that’s the style you’d prefer.

Mums, Grans and even you, will treasure these. The posed photographs are the ones the always end up on display.

It gives you time with those most important to you. 

You’ll really appreciate a nice photograph of everyone closest with you in years to come. 

Why Shouldn’t We Have Group Portraits?

They take time. Depending on the number of variations you want to have, it may take between 20 minutes and an hour.

They can be boring. There’s a lot of waiting around for your name to be called if you’re a guest.

It’s time you’d probably rather spend with your guests.

Your cheeks get sore. This isn’t the end of the world, but I needed a forth reason for balance.

How to make your group portraits run smoothly.

Have a nominated assistant for the photographer. This should be someone that knows most, if not everyone in the group shots so they can usher them into place or find uncle Dave who’s found himself back at the bar.

If you’ve got children in the group shots, get those photos first, they get bored the fastest. Only superseded by a group photo of everyone where you can then send the regular guests back to the bar.

Have a list. Either agreed with the photographer before the wedding or written down to hand to them. They can take control with the list and systematically mark off the groups that are complete making sure no-one is missed.

For anyone outside of the wedding party – such as work colleagues, grab a snap with them on their phone while you mingle during cocktail hour or the reception. I always make a point of offering ‘nice’ photographs to everyone during these times as I wander around the venue anyway, so check if your photographer is happy to do the same.

Suggested Groups

I’ve listed a few of the most popular groupings that I shoot at weddings below, but every wedding is different. Families are frequently less traditional than they used to be. So make sure you tailor your group photographs to suit you and your situation. You can add to this list or shorten it – there are no absolute rules.

Bride, Groom, wedding party.

Bride, Groom, Bridesmaids.

Bride, Groom, Groomsmen.

Bride, Groom, both sets of parents. 

Bride, Groom, Brides parents / family.

Bride, Groom, Groom’s parents / family.

Bride, Groom, Immediate family. 


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