professional wedding photographers in the midlands

Do I Need to Have a Full Group Photo at My Wedding?

One of the most difficult decisions many couples face when planning their wedding photos, is deciding which group pictures to have. Due to the style of photography we offer our couples want to keep theirs lists short and sweet. They can sometimes feel under pressure however from parents or other relatives with a more traditional approach. Traditionally, parents or other relatives have an expectation that there will be a greater emphasis on posed photographs. A compromise for some is to have a full group photo so that at some point, all guests are included in the formalities.

Whilst this provides a solution for “including everyone”, full group photos are often seen with rose tinted glasses and aren’t usually as straightforward as you may hope.

When you’re considering having a large group photo you need to consider

How long will this take?

A full group shot can take anything from 3 or 4 minutes, to about 20 minutes depending on how cooperative your guests are.  There’s always someone who’s in the loo, changing the baby, checking into their room or at the bar. When you only have a limited time during your reception, you need to consider what you’d rather be doing with your time and what is most important to you. If you’re hoping for a formality free day with a relaxed vibe, nothing will kill the mood more than standing around for photos that don’t seem to end.

What will I do with this photo?

If you’re not likely to frame it or otherwise have it on display or in an album, is it worth having? Most of our couples tell us that they rarely look back upon formal photos at all, favouring the more natural images. After all, the natural style is why couples book us.

Is there anywhere to actually have the photo? Is it practical for myself and my guests?

Some venues are limited for outdoor space, especially if you have a large number of guests. You need to consider whether there’s somewhere suitable for such a photo. Will your guests appreciate walking across grass in heels? Will it be too cold for young children or elderly guests? Is it wheelchair accessible? If it’s flat ground, the chances are that lots of faces may be obscured too.

Surprisingly, guests don’t often mind about being included in formal photographs as much as you’d think. With every group shot there tends to be a few who run for cover and hide at the back! Before I was a photographer, it was always me! Most guests appreciate that wedding photography is different these days, with more emphasis on the candid and natural moments. Ultimately most just want the best results for you. So don’t feel pressured to have something you don’t want if a full group photo doesn’t float your boat.

And if you’re still unsure, opting for a full group shot can sometimes mean compromising on;

  • A nice location for photos (as opposed to having to have a practical one)
  • Having everyone you want in the photo actually be in it (due to mobility, or guest availability)
  • Having less time for natural guest photos or couples photos (because the full group shot took longer than you’d hoped)

So do take these things into consideration if you were hoping that a full group shot would be a great way to keep everyone happy.

You can find more advice regarding choosing your group photos in our previous blog post here.

Be excellent to each other