A comprehensive guide for the formal group photos at your wedding

The group photos are the formal, posed photographs of you with your guests, after the ceremony has taken place. At Mae Photography, we organise this portion of the day slightly differently to other photographers to ensure it is a quick, slick process. The group photos can often feel long and stressful for the bride and groom as it requires constant smiling and ushering your family and friends into position. To combat this, we ask for you to think in advance about how many and which photographs you would like here. 

List of Names

By writing a list of all the people you would like in each group photo means the process on the day is quicker and easier for all involved. We have found that families are so diverse and complex these days which means your photographer can not second guess who is at your wedding and who can share a picture. Gone are the days of calling out ‘brides parents’, ‘grooms parents’, ‘brides family’ etc. In our experience, by calling the groups out in this way leads to confusion of whether partners or ‘plus 1’s’ qualify.

Simply write down each persons name who you would like in each picture, and on the day your photographer can call them out. This helps your guests to know if they are needed for the photo and ensures you receive all the pictures you want.


Formal group photos are a tradition at weddings. We want to encourage you to consider what the group photos mean to you. By clarifying this, it can help with a lot of other decisions surrounding them, such as how much time to give them, and who you want in them. Having group photos is a great way of documenting who was at your wedding – older relatives particularly love having a photo of all their family together. Think about how you might display these images after your wedding – will they make it into your photo book, or in a picture frame on your wall? If so, you might choose to have a lot of group variations. If you prefer to have more natural/reportage images of your guests having fun at your wedding, consider giving less time to the group photos by including fewer shots.

How much time to allow

On average, we try to stick to 16 group photos or less. We find that any more than this and our bride and groom are getting tired and just want to get a drink! If you have a smaller wedding of around 40 guests or less, generally about 10 group pictures are taken on average. 

When planning the schedule for your day, please allow at least 1.5 hours for the group photos. This gives time for the 16 pictures with your guests and also those of just the bride and groom together, without it being too rushed. If your venue is large and you would like a wider variety of images of the two of you together in a variety of locations, consider adding some more time still.

Who to include

As mentioned above, every family is different and come in all shapes and sizes. However, if you are having trouble with your list, here is a basis to get you started. Remember, do not write your list like this but replace them with the names of the people.

1. Bride, groom, both sets of parents
2. Bride, groom, brides parents
3. Bride, groom, grooms parents
4. Bride, groom, with brides immediate family (parents and siblings)
5. Bride, groom, with brides extended family (parents, siblings, aunts, cousins, grandparents (and partners))
6. Bride, groom with grooms immediate family (parents and siblings)
7. Bride, groom, with grooms extended family (parents, siblings, aunts, cousins etc.) 
[If applicable, in the case of your parents being separated, you may need to include a further picture to have your mums side of the family separate to your dads side – this can depend on how well they get along etc.]
8. Bride, groom with their children (if applicable)
9. Bride, groom and friends (for example, work friends)
10. Bride, groom and friends (for example, other friends)
11. Bride, groom and bridal party (bridesmaids, groomsmen)
12. Bride and bridesmaids
13. Groom and groomsmen
14. Everyone (this is a very common request. Things to consider: Is there room for everyone to gather for a picture? Is there a vantage point for the photographer to take it from above? Do you have time in your schedule to gather everyone and position them.)
15. Other ideas could be bride, groom and grandparents, or bride, groom and siblings. (Consider: are you particularly close with them for them to be in a second photo individually?)

Helpful Ideas

  • Think about whether you would like to do the group photos with your guests first and then go off for the bride and groom pictures, or visa versa.
  • Are you going to provide reception drinks for your guests before or after the group photos?
  • If you have guests that are not going to be included in any group photos, perhaps have other activities/games available for them during this time.
  • Let us know if you have any guests that have restricted mobility or have difficulty walking or standing for long periods of time.

w: www.maephotography.co.uk           e: [email protected]            t: 01206 632200