On a wedding day my shooting style is very natural and relaxed, and I normally capture moments as they happen.. however there are a few instances where things will have to be a little more formal on the day, and your group photographs is one of those. Standing for group shots won't be the most exciting part of your fab day but they'll be the images that are likely to make it onto walls and mantelpieces, so I try to keep it as short, simple and stress free as possible! There are some things we can do to help things along so I thought I'd share some advice!
1. Plan your list..
I normally get in touch with my couples about a week in advance to ask for a list of more formal group shots. Of course I'm happy to shoot as many groups as you'd like, but I recommend choosing about 8-10 different groups that includes close family on each side and the wedding party (bridesmaids and groomsmen). Each image takes a few minutes and that can add up quickly! Normally the list goes something like the newlyweds with their own children and then shots of immediate family / parents / grandparents for each side and then if the venue allows, a shot of everyone!
2. Assign a rounder upper!
I'll have a copy of your groups list on the day but despite my best efforts I won't always know who everybody is.. it's always super helpful if you can choose someone from each side of the wedding (a sibling or member of the wedding party) who knows who most people are and is able to pin point and help me or my second shooter gather groups together as we work through. Prepping them with a copy of the list is great so they can make sure key people don't wander off :)
3. Think about timings..
I'll always ask for a timeline for your day in advance too so I can plan when we'll start your group shots.. they can take a while and we don't want to eat into your drinking and mingling time! When you're planning your timeline remember to leave enough time for your group shots and couple portraits between the ceremony and sitting down for your wedding breakfast.. this is really important if you're having a ceremony later in the day - an October 4pm ceremony will leave limited daylight for getting outside to take photographs. I'm more than help with that if you get stuck!
Occasionally depending on weather / a little bit of overrunning earlier in the day it might be that we'll need to squeeze some of the shots in later in the day, so it's really helpful for me to know timings so I can shuffle things around if we need! We can also use the time after dinner / before the evening party starts to fit in a few informal groups with friends too.
If there's somewhere at the venue you'd specifically like to do your group shots I'll do my absolute best to make that work.. normally I'll be looking on the day for somewhere that's got a lovely backdrop and great lighting. Our ever unpredictable British weather sometimes means harsh sunlight which can cause lots of squinting and bright spots in images and of course rain means we might end up in doors, its great if you can be flexible and trust me :)
5. and lastly ..
Have your best smiles ready and your drinks nearby - I'll do my best to move things along as quickly as possible so you can get back to the celebrations!
Sarah Horton is a multiple award winning wedding photographer from Nantwich, Cheshire - recently named as one of the top 50 wedding photographers in the UK!