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May 12th, 2017
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Wedding Reception

How long should I plan for formal group photographs at my wedding?

Published 3 Oct 2017

Every wedding day has a highly detailed schedule, starting with make-up and hair stylists in the morning, arrival of wedding transport, ceremony time, start of reception, call for dinner, speeches, arrival of evening guests, cake cutting, first dance, just to name a few. You might be worried that you, the couple, have to spend all your reception time posing for photographs and have hardly got any time spare to spend with your family and friends.

An experienced photographer will discuss with you before your wedding how long group photography should take, and how long they will spend with you away from the reception for the romantic photographs.

This little guide will provide you with some ideas about the time you need on your wedding day should you want a few formal family group photographs.

What group photographs are standard at weddings?

B&G stands for bride and groom, but obviously it can be Bride and Bride, or Groom and Groom too.

  • B&G + her parents
  • B&G + his parents
  • B&G + both parents, siblings & partners + kids
  • B&G + bridal party (bridesmaids, flower girls, best man, ushers, page boys)
  • Bride only + bridesmaids, flower girls
  • Groom only + best man, ushers, page boys
  • Any other group you might want to add yourself, such as grandparents, or special friends.

I normally request the exact number of groups from my couples a week before the wedding with the full name of each person in each group. This will make it much easier for me to find the people on the day. I will also have prepared this as a printed list and ask the ushers to help me gather all people required for group photos before I ask the bride and groom to join us, giving you - the couple - more time with your family and friends, enjoying the wedding reception.

Provided I have everyone gathered ready to step in and out of different group combinations, I normally complete the formal photographs within 10-15 minutes.

When do you take the group photographs?

I normally discuss with the couple before wedding the order of things on their wedding day and we come up with the best possible time for the group photographs. This might be at the start of the wedding reception, or after I have taken the romantic photographs of the couple.

Can we have a group photograph of everyone?

Yes, of course, but there are a few things to bear in mind. Depending on the number of your wedding guests, you need to plan a bit of time to have everyone assembled in one location. Assembling 80-100 people in one location can easily take 15-20 minutes. People might disappear to the restroom, or they may have gone to their room to freshen up. The best time for a group photograph of everyone is straight after the ceremony. If you want a photo of everyone, the celebrant can announce after the ceremony that everyone make their way to the agreed location so all the guests know that the couple has kindly requested a photograph of everyone. Another option for a group photo of everyone is just before the wedding breakfast.

Will my family and friends be allowed to take photographs of the formal family groups?

Absolutely! The people you have invited to your wedding are your dearest family members and closest friends. Of course they are allowed to take photographs of the family groups. I actually encourage the guests who are keen to take a few photos to stand right beside me so that the people in the group all look at the same direction - preferably at the big camera.

what if MY FAMILY want additional group photographs taken on the day?

This often happens and I am asked to have a few more formal group photographs. I will only take them once I have taken the requested photographs to make sure I have the most important photographs taken for the bride and groom. I can also take additional images after the wedding breakfast, when there is a bit more time after the formalities.

At the start of your journey

Who is Nadin Dunnigan

Nadin Dunnigan is a wedding photographer in Edinburgh, specialising in wedding photography in Edinburgh, Scotland, and internationally. With experience of photographing hundreds of weddings in Scotland, Germany, and Italy, you can rest assured that your wedding photographs will look stylish, and will look and remain elegant for years to come.

Couples book Nadin years in advance, so make sure to get in touch early to get your date in the diary.

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