It may seem like a small part of your day, but as a wedding photographer, one of the biggest areas of debate among couples and families is always the group shots, and often they end up being not such a small part! So, here are my top tips for getting the most from your photos and ensuring these most traditional of shots don't take over your day...
1. Know what your wedding photographer will and won't do before you book
This is true for all aspects of your wedding photography, but there are increasingly photographers on the scene who don't specialise in weddings and therefore 'don't do' group shots - either because they think it's beneath them or because they don't have the experience or confidence to coordinate them. If you're set that you don't want this type of shot then that works just fine, but make sure you know this before you book them.
2. Ask yourself who they're for
Many couples outwardly feel they have to have group shots at their wedding because they 'feel they should', 'it's tradition' or for their family. Your wedding photography should really be about what you as a couple want, but in reality, most couples actually do want photos of as many people as possible who attended their special day. A good wedding photographer will capture as wide a range of your guests as they can (though you can't promise everyone) - but at least if you decide this is what you want, you'll hopefully feel less resentful about this part of the day!
3. Make sure you have enough time
Our couples are usually surprised when we tell them to allow up to five minutes for every group shot they want. This isn't the time it takes to press the shutter, but it can easily take this long to gather the right group of people, especially in bigger venues. For that reason, you should also ask your wedding photographer's advice about when you take these shots, but knowing the time it takes will encourage you to only have the shots you really want. With this in mind, your wedding photographer will also advise the timings for other shots you may want, such as photos of you as newlyweds taken away from the crowds, and you can use this to decide on timings for your drinks and wedding breakfast, and make sure you still have time to relax and mingle in between!
4. Plan your location
Once your wedding photographer knows the potential numbers of people in your group shots, together you can find the best locations in advance. We always visit the venues with our couples beforehand to make sure we've found something that works well for everyone - think about accessibility as well as aesthetics, and make sure your photographer has the right lenses and kit so that he doesn't have to be a mile away to fit everyone in!
5. Get help!
On the day, the last thing you as a couple should be worrying about is coordinating people - get someone else to do it! Find one or two people in your bridal party that knows most of the guests that will be coming, and task them with rounding people up - just remember to tell them before they hit the bar! Working alongside your wedding photographer who will know exactly want they want and when, it just means you can get to the champers even quicker, and group shots can be fun rather than a chore.
Rebecca Hanman is a Wedding Photographer, Gloucestershire.