OK, as photographers we can be greeted with some mixed reactions from wedding guests. In fact two of the most common phrases at the start of any conversation when I’m holding a camera are ‘oh I’m not photogenic at all’ or ‘I hate having my photo taken’. Sometimes I just sit in the corner and weep! No seriously, we do know that the photos are not the favourite part of the day. Here’s some ideas to keep it simple and still get the pictures that you want.
Biggest Goes First
If you want a shot of everyone at your wedding (and most people do, it just makes sense), then do this group first. I mean, not the minute you walk out of the ceremony, but early on in the reception. This minimises the hanging around time in putting it together as people tend to ‘clump together’ at this point. It gets trickier later in the day when folk have gone off to explore, get drinks, check in etc. and that means people have to wait around which no-one enjoys.
Following on from this, if photos aren’t your thing, we always recommend that you keep the groups simple. Actually a lot of people only do four big groups
- Bride’s family
- Groom’s family
Everyone is then included in your photos and feels part of the day. It also has the advantage that, while I have everyone set up for the group shot and all of their attention, I can explain the plan for the next three groups. Then it’s a matter of slotting people in and out. Quick and painless – just the way it should be. Then we can release the majority of people to go and start the party while we stay with the more immediate wedding party who will naturally have more ‘staying power’ when it comes to having their pictures taken.
Politics can always come into play with it comes to group photos, particularly with the older generation who may put more value in these ‘formal pictures’. The problem with arranging to have pictures with one aunt and uncle (for example) is that, if the other aunts and uncles see you doing it, they will most likely want one too. This is great if you’re up for it but you will need to add a little more time and a pain if you really didn’t want many group photos. If you have certain family members who you know will have special requests, it’s a good idea to let them know that you’ll do their pictures a little later after the main groups. You can go and find them later for your special photos together and avoid the snowball effect.
Families can be fairly complicated with often times parents who have remarried and have whole other families to include. Of course you want all the part of your family to feel special and included so it’s worth chatting with your photographer in advance and letting your family know your plans so they don’t worry that they’re going to get sidelined.
It can be a bit of a sensitive area when it comes to divorced parents being photographed together but for the most part they will agree to it so you can get a picture of your mum and dad if you want it. Traditionally, mum stands on one side of the couple and dad on the other so they won’t be posed together as a couple. We usually then repeat the process with step parents as required. If a situation is particularly sensitive then let your photographer know and we’ll work to get the photos you want while making sure no-one is upset in the process.
We’re Not Going to Force You
Now, there’s always a few people who don’t want to be in photos at all, point blank, no way Jose. How you want to handle this is up to you, we’re never going to force people. My policy is I invite once, ask them again and if it’s still a no, I’ll leave them be. I can’t frogmarch them into a group and it’s not a great picture if they’re giving the ‘go to hell’ eyes. My advice would be, if you know someone has an issue, then speak to them before the wedding day when they’re no pressure around the subject. If they know what’s expected in advance, they might consent to join a group.
Save the Most Patient Til Last
Bridesmaids and groomsmen are usually saved until the last set of groups as they’re normally the happiest to hang out together and wait their turn. It’s also handy to have them nearby when we’re doing the other groups as they’re likely to know all the main players and so they’re ideal to round other people up from the groups where required.
So with a bit of planing, there’s no need to people to dread this section of the day. It’s a great idea to let folk know what you’re planning – if you have a wedding website or by putting an insert in your wedding invitation. That way people can hold off checking in to hotel rooms etc until they’re free. We’ll always be happy to work with you to get you the images you want to treasure of your wedding day as quickly and painlessly as possible. We want all those wedding photo smiles to be 100% natural!