Even if the wedding group portraits are not high on your priority list, they are an extremely important part of the wedding day so don’t overlook them. I work with all of my couples in the final months leading up to the wedding to craft a group wedding portraits list as part of the photography schedule to ensure the session goes smoothly. Being organized gives your photographer more freedom to be creative and also reduces the stress on everyone.
There’s only so much time in a wedding day so the formals list should aim to be only the absolute, must have groups. For family portraits, this includes grandparents, parents, siblings and their spouses and kids. To make sure we keep your wedding on schedule, allow at least one hour to cover all the group shots. The goal is always to make it go faster but with so many variables it’s better to plan more than enough time.
Accounting for people in the groups ahead of time ensures no one gets left out and that all of the groupings are not creating any awkward situations. Some divorced parents are amicable while others are not and either situation is fine when a carefully crafted outline avoids any conflicts.
Once an outline has been drafted, you can distribute it ahead of time with times and locations. The number one reason for formals taking longer than expected is because of a missing person so the more they know in advance the better. Let them know where to be and when to be ready.
Make sure all flowers and boutonnieres are delivered on time and affixed to family members and to the wedding party in advance, especially for pre-ceremony formals. Communicate with your florist if you’re planning to have a First Look so that they can deliver your florals ahead of time.
It flows best by starting with the largest groups and working your way down. If the formal portraits will be done post-ceremony, family photos are usually done first both so that grandparents can rest and so parents can get back to any hosting duties. The wedding party follows and last comes the couple. With a First Look schedule, usually the wedding party portraits follow the couple portraits and family portraits happen either just prior to or immediately following the ceremony.
Typical Wedding Party Groupings
Bride & Groom with flower girls and ring bearers (often first if they’re little)
Whole wedding party including flower girls and ring bearers
Bride and Bridesmaids
Bride with Maid of Honor
Groom with Groomsmen
Groom with Best Man
Typical Family Groupings
Bride and Groom with Bride’s parents, grandparents, siblings and their spouse and children
Bride and Groom with Bride’s grandparents
Bride and Groom with Bride’s parents
Bride with parents
Bride with parents & siblings
Bride with siblings
Bride and Groom with Groom’s parents, grandparents, siblings and their spouse and children
Bride and Groom with Groom’s grandparents
Bride and Groom with Groom’s parents
Groom with parents
Groom with parents & siblings
Groom with siblings
Other ‘can’t-miss’ groupings (friends, co-workers, a large collection of cousins, etc.) are usually better captured informally during the cocktail hour or reception. I always make a note of these also to ensure we don’t miss a thing!
For other wedding planning tips to help in how to choose a wedding photographer, you can also check out these posts about deciding to have a first look, picking a getting ready space, and how to decide if you need a second photographer.
Stina Booth is a wedding photographer based in northern Vermont available to shoot weddings in Vermont and throughout New England.