How to survive wedding group shots

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What group shots to have at your wedding?

As a photographer it’s important to know how to run the day to help your couple have the most fun and enjoy every second but it’s also important that the couple know how to help the photographer to do this.

Group shots can be one of the hardest things to manage on the day, the lure of alcohol, canapes or trying to check into rooms for guests can be a deal-breaker for the stressed-out couple and photographer trying to round up the people on the list.

So here are some top tips on how to work together to manage this and see how you can make this as easy as possible.

Create a list before the wedding day

So before the wedding sit down with your partner and decide who you would like in the photos with you, but remember having a massive list of group shots will take up a considerable amount of time on the day. So let’s say you have a list of 15 group shots let’s work out how long that may take to photograph, for each picture it can take around 4-5 minutes to find guests and arrange so if you have 15 groups it could take over an hour just to take family group images. If you feel you have enough time and have a larger family then go for it but I usually suggest around 8-10 group shots to help keep you sane!

Bride and bridesmaid at Busby hotel

Allow enough time

From the time your ceremony finishes until you and your guests are seated for your meal we need to fit in family group shots, the first section of the couple shoot as well as allowing you to have time to chill. Make sure when you are planning everything out you have enough time to get everything completed.

Think about the order

So now you have an idea of who you would like in pictures and you have set enough time in your schedule you need to think about what order they will be taken in. Some of the people included may be grandparents or children, having your grandparents going first in the order can allow them to pop back inside and get a nice comfortable seat. As for children wedding days can really throw a curveball for their feelings and daily schedules – naps and eating times can be affected, this can make them feel cranky. Trying to snap the children’s pictures close together so they can go back to playing can also help (having white chocolate buttons or their fave snacks on hand is also a helpful thing, I don’t usually encourage bribery but it can be really helpful to get those nice smiles on the day)

Bride and groom with family at sherbrooke hotel

Having helpers

It’s really useful to have a few people on hand that know the guests on the list, they can do the running around and bringing people to you. Bridesmaids can be helpful but when they are wearing heels may not be the best option, Ushers or close family are usually the people for the job. I will always have a copy of your list for myself so I know who should be in all the pictures and will bring a few back up copies for our runners 🙂

Have a back up plan

With group shots I usually always encourage you to arrange them outside where possible. This gives us lots of room to have people close by so we can bring them in and out of pictures when we need, having group shots inside can hold back the room changeovers. That being said when it’s raining outside we may not have another option so have a discussion with your venue and see where they suggest using when we can’t get outside.

Bride and family at Oswald house

Let the guests know they are needed

It is also a good idea to let people know that they will be in the family group shots, this lets them know not to wander too far away after the ceremony! It also allows you to keep the time spent on the group shots down as we aren’t waiting to round up all the guests.

Whole wedding group shot

Are you thinking of having a large group shot with all of your guests? you will need to plan this with me and also your celebrant. The celebrant is useful as at the end of the ceremony they can add it into their script that all the guests are required to go outside for a big group shot. This can save a bunch of time rounding up lots of small groups of guests.

Before you decide to do a big group shot you need to understand this can be very time consuming and you need to have an area that will accommodate all of your guests. I can never promise that I will capture a full group shot as it will come down to the venue, the weather and lots of other things that may happen on the day.

Confetti shot

Confetti shots are one of my favourite things to photograph, I absolutely love confetti shots! Couples may think these just happen naturally on the day but boy they don’t! There are a few things to consider.

1, Does your venue allow you to use confetti – you may be surprised to know that some venues won’t allow you to use confetti.

2, Make sure you have enough, if you want all of your guests to have some confetti you may need to consider how much to have on hand.

3, Do you have the space to arrange a confetti shot? If your venue is limited on space you could arrange the confetti shot to happen just after the group shots and use just your bridal party and immediate family.

– I have had a look and found some beautiful biodegradable confetti that is based in Scotland.

Bride and groom during confetti shot at Killearn Village Hall


We have lots of opportunities during the day to grab small groups of friends and family to take some pictures with, just before dinner or after the first set of dances can be an ideal time to grab these groups for a quick pic.

Have fun

The most important part is to have fun with all your friends and family.

Wedding party group shot glasgow wedding

Here is an example of a shot list with 9 groupings

  1. Couple with partner 1 parents
  2. Couple with partner 1 parents + siblings
  3. Couple with partner 2 parents
  4. Couple with partner 2 parents + siblings
  5. Couple with partner 1 + partner 2 parents
  6. Couple with both sets of parents and siblings
  7. Couple with full wedding party
  8. Partner 1 with their wedding party – for example bride and bridesmaids or groom and ushers
  9. Partner 2 with their wedding party

Obviously you can create any arrangement that works for you – some parents may not be together so there may be more groupings but if we can work together with our runners we should be able to nail this with as little hassle as possible.

Are you looking for more information on how I manage a wedding day my what to expect page can help, or if you just want to check if I am free pop over to my contact form and let me know your date.


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