When it comes to the standard set of group photographs at weddings, opinions vary. Some believe there is a set list, while others argue it depends on personal preferences. There are no strict rules or laws regarding this matter. However, if you ask your parents, they will likely come up with a lengthy list of photographs they expect to be taken.
As a Cornish wedding photographer, I think that the best approach is to have a discussion with your partner. You should consider any grandparents or particular relatives who want to be included in the family group photographs.
While everyone at your wedding is special to you, it’s worth remembering that lengthy formal photographs can be time-consuming. If you’ve attended weddings as a guest and witnessed extensive formal photo sessions, you may want to prioritise a wedding day focused more on the celebration and less on formal photography.
Ultimately, the choice of group photographs should reflect your personal preferences and the relationships most important to you as a couple. Here’s all you need to know about formal family portraits, their importance and tips on handling them at your Cornish wedding.
Reasons for Family Portraits
- Symbolic Value
Formal family group photographs can hold sentimental value for the couple and their parents. They symbolise the joining of two families and the beginning of a new chapter in the couple’s life. Parents often cherish having a formal photograph with their child on their special day to display at home.
- Commemorating Loved Ones
This is for wedding guests, especially close relatives and friends who may have travelled long distances or have special memories with the couple. They’ll appreciate the opportunity to have a photograph with the bride and groom. It allows them to capture a moment of celebration and reconnect with the couple, especially if they haven’t seen them in a while.
- Celebration of the Wedding Efforts
A wedding involves significant planning and preparation. Formal family group photographs showcase the efforts put into making the day special. It captures the culmination of all the hard work and attention to detail that went into creating a memorable wedding.
- Sharing with Absent Friends and Relatives
Family photographs offer a way to include and share the joy of the wedding with friends and relatives who couldn’t attend. By displaying these photographs, family members can proudly show their loved ones who couldn’t be present how they were included and involved in the celebration.
Things to Consider for Your Family Portraits
- Prioritise Immediate Family
Start by including your parents and siblings in the photographs, as they are typically the closest family members. This ensures that the essential family relationships are captured.
- Consider Grandparents and Special Relatives
If your grandparents or other relatives hold significant importance in your life, you may want to include them in the formal photographs as well.
- Communicate with Your Cornish Wedding Photographer
Discuss your preferences and family dynamics with your wedding photographer in advance. They can provide guidance based on their experience and help you plan the group photographs efficiently.
- Optimise Group Combinations
Instead of having multiple combinations of the same group (e.g., separate photographs with the bride’s parents and siblings, then with their partners and children), consider combining them into one group photo. This approach saves time during the photography session and provides a unified representation of your family.
Make Things Easier With These Tips
Part of my job is ensuring that my couples get all the photos they have asked for; they get sent a questionnaire before the wedding where they can make a list of the group photos they would like me to capture on the day. When the time comes, I will organise everyone into different groups and make it as easy and fun as possible for everyone involved. Where older relatives and children are involved, I usually aim to capture those groups first so they are free to enjoy their day.
- Provide a List
Share an exact list of the groups you want in your formal photographs, including the full names of each person. This allows the photographer to locate individuals quickly and avoid confusion on the day.
- Take To The Skies
As a licenced commercial drone pilot, one of the best uses for my drone in wedding photography is for group photos. Using the drone I am able to capture all your guests and the scenery as well, all in one stunning photo.
- Plan Ahead
Discuss the group photographs with your photographer well before the wedding day. This gives them time to prepare and ensures they have all the necessary information to execute the session smoothly.
- Enlist Assistance
For bigger weddings with large family groups, I suggest that the couple nominate someone to assist with gathering the required individuals for each group photo, ideally, someone who knows everyone on the list. This way, your photographer can focus on capturing the moments while ensuring everyone is ready for their turn.
- Keep The Numbers Down
I recommend you keep the total number of group photos to around ten. I have done more in the past, but almost every time, guests get frustrated, children get bored, and the older generation wander off to sit down. The couple then see this and cut the list short, missing out on the crucial photos they really wanted.
- The Overall Group Photo
Having a group photograph of all your wedding guests together is a must! However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. The logistics of assembling a large number of people in one location can take some time, and some venues do not have the space. When space is limited, I will capture the group in several photos and then stitch them together during editing; this ensures that everyone is included in the photo even if it wasn’t physically possible to get them in the shot.
Top Tips from a Photographer
Depending on the size of your guest list, you should allocate enough time to gather everyone for the group photo. Ushering 50+ people to a specific location can take 15-20 minutes or even longer. It’s important to anticipate that some guests may need to use the restroom or freshen up, which can cause delays.
The best time to capture a group photograph of everyone is typically right after the ceremony. This is when all guests are already gathered and in a celebratory mood. You can ask your celebrant or officiant to make an announcement after the ceremony.
Another option is to take the group photo just before the wedding breakfast or reception. This can be convenient as you may want to include guests who have not arrived yet and when guests are already present and in one place. However, remember that this may require some coordination to ensure everyone is available and ready for the photo.
Formal family group photographs are a cherished tradition. However, it is essential to balance capturing these moments and allowing ample time for you and your guests to enjoy the wedding celebration.
The two most significant things to ensure they go smoothly are to hire a professional wedding photographer and to keep your list to the photos you really want.
Are you looking for an experienced wedding photographer to capture your group photos?
I'd love to help you document your special memories in and around the South West. Want to know more? Contact me today!
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Professional, Fun and Relaxed Wedding Photography
My name is Steven! I'm a full-time documentary wedding photographer from Cornwall. I specialise in relaxed and unposed photography, capturing the moments of your day as they happen.
I love what I do, and I always have fun doing it. If you are looking for someone to capture every moment, create beautiful lasting memories, someone who will laugh with your guests, talk to the kids, pet all the dogs and get stuck into almost any task on the day, then I am the person for you!