Tips for a fun wedding - Scrap (or just have less) group photos!

Group photos?  “No thanks!” or “Ok…. but maybe just a few”

I speak to lot’s of engaged couples who are planning a wedding and lots of times a similar story comes up. I often hear of their experiences as guests at a wedding where they had to stand around for AAAaaaaaaaaages having group photos taken. To the point where they got really achy faces from forcing smiles. I’m hoping that the info below will help you to make sure that this doesn’t happen on your wedding day and that you will have soooooooo much more time for mingling and fun.

I feel that this happens because it’s still presumed that group photos are something that you “should” do at a wedding. Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You don’t have to do them! Nothing bad will actually happen if you don’t do them and you can still have a wonderful record of who attended your wedding without having to line everyone up and force them to smile. You might actually have time for some fun if you you scrap them all together... or if you think your Mum will kill you if you don’t get a family group photo, then below you will find out my tricks and tips to make sure that the group photos are done as quickly and painlessly as possible.

 Here’s my advice (supported by some inspiration from my lovely couples) on how to have more time for fun on the day by having no (or just a few group photos)…

Consider scrapping the group photos all together

Bride and Groom laughing during their Festival Wedding ceremony in a field in Exmouth

That’s what this pair did. Christina and Lee’s wedding on a field in Exmouth was so much fun! they chose to have absolutely NO formal/group/posed photos on their wedding day. This meant they had so much more time to have fun (including a bucking sheep contest and a bouncy castle wrestle) and more time to make genuine memories with their guests.

The photos they did end up having of their very favourite people, now actually capture real memories and stories of the day. Of course throughout the day Christina and Lee would grab someone, or a small group of friends and family for an impromptu “looking at the camera photo”.

You might be blown away by this idea and you are now considering scrapping the group photos all together. But then a thought comes to you… “What if we don’t have a photo of your great Aunty Jane who means the world to us?” If you are scrapping the group photos but want to make sure that your most important people are photographed at your wedding, you need to communicate with your photographer. Tell them before the wedding who the most important people are and point them out on the day. This way your photographer won’t spend as much time photographing your great, great, great cousin’s new girlfriend’s kid (’s friend) and they will spend more time capturing the people who you love the most.

But my MUM will kill me if we don’t get a formal photo of the family!

Obviously the tradition of having a few group photos of your nearest and dearest can be important to you and your family (especially your parents and grandparents generation). So by all means, if it means that by asking your family to stand still and smile for a photo, you have made them feel super important and included, then definitely have a few! But you don't want to stand around aaaaallllllll day when you could be off having that space hopper race on the lawn like Laura and Tony, Pictured below at their St Ives Harbour Hotel Wedding. These two only had a large group photo of all their guests and a few small group photos on the beach (which only took about 15 mins) which meant that the rest of the day ran really smoothly and no one got achy faces.


Bride and groom having a space hopper race at the St Ives Harbour Hotel

I want a super fun day! but I do actually want a some group photos

Here are my tips for how to do it!…

The way to tackle this threat of boredom and to not get super achy faces from forced smiling for too long (like Gayle at her super fun Buckland Tout Saints Wedding below)…

bride with achy face after smiling for too many group photos

1 - keep the list of the group photos very, very small.

No more than 6 different groups (4 is better and 1 is best) and make sure its just your nearest and dearest, the people that you actually will remember in 20 years when you look back at your photos.

With a very short list your photographer can get through them super quickly. Make sure to give your photographer this list at least 4 weeks before the wedding to allow them time to study it and make any adjustments to the order.

Here’s a sample list (provided my one of my lovely couples - Shanna and Sam) incase just one big photo group photo isn’t enough.

  • All guests

  • Us with Grandparents (+ a couple of variations)

  • Us with parents (+ a couple of variations)

  • Us with Siblings (+ a couple of variations)

  • Us with the wedding Party (+ a couple of variations)

This list also included the names of all of the people in each group (Which I Highly recommend that you do when you write it for your photographer)

Write all of the names of each person in each smaller group i.e.. Us with our Grandparents - Dot and Alan - This helps your photographer be personable and address people by their name to make them feel welcome.

Of course there will be a little “wiggle” room to “grab” a few more variations of group photos during that time and time for impromptu ones (Like the “cheeky” one below) through the rest of the day. But if you get these super important ones on your list done quickly at the set time then you know for sure that you can relax and enjoy the rest of your day.


2 - When writing the (very very short) list, start with a big group photo of all of the guests.

That way if you get bored or an achy face quickly, you can shout “CUUUUUUTTTT”  and you will still have that one lovely photo of everyone who came to your wedding day.

Group photo of all guests at Laura and Tony's St Ives Harbour Hotel wedding

3 - Pop any photos with grandparents or children right at the top of the list (just after the big group one) so that the grandparents can sit down before too long and the children don't get too restless.

Shanna and Sam with Grandmother at their Bickley Mill wedding in Devon

4 - Find a 30 minute gap in your timeline for your photos and no longer

Waaaaay ahead of the wedding, Inform the people that you want in the photos exactly when they will be happening. This leads to no groans on the day. Also pop this info on your timeline at the wedding, event page on facebook, wedding program ect.

The best time window is usually after the ceremony, right after everyone has congratulated you and has pelted confetti at you. This is so that everyone still looks and feels their best (bonus if they still have confetti in their hair) and they are not too drunk to round up for photos. 

5 - Assign a people gatherer or two

The key to keeping group photos quick and fun is to make them efficient. Before the wedding ask one or two people if they will be people gatherers. It’s best if you choose people who either recognise your family members or who will shout loudly enough to get everyone’s attention. You need someone who will go and find your dad when he has snuck off to the bar. Make sure this person knows well before the day that this will be their role and give them a copy of your list on the day. Whilst one group is being photographed, your helpful person can be gathering people for the next one.

6 - Actually enjoy having the group photos taken!

Don't think of them as having to be stiff and formal. They can be as much fun as you like as long as the right people are in them. Laugh with your friends and family, give them kisses, big hugs, pull funny faces, chuck people in the air, have a blast.

Groom being thrown in the air
Bride and bridesmaids playing in the sunflower field at cornish wedding
fun group photo of the bridal party at new barton barns in devon

If you follow this advice you will have far more time on your day for this…

Bride and groom on rodeo sheep at their Exmouth wedding

A bit of this….

Shots at the wedding

And loads of this! …

Crazy dance floor at St Elizabeth's House Plymouth wedding

Tell me what you think!

I’d love to know your thoughts on group photos? Would you scrap group photos all together at your wedding? (In the safe knowledge that the photos that are taken of your fave people, will still exist, and will actually capture real memories) Or would you just have the one big group photo and a few impromptu ones as and when you fancy them? or Would you give your photographer a small list of the must haves and get through them as quickly as possible, with the help of people gatherers? There’s no right or wrong so let’s discuss this…

Have any ideas of your own? Hate the above advice? Love it? let me know?

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