How to get gorgeous group photos and chic couple shots – without spending all day posing

I hear you.

You’d like posed photos as well as natural photos.

Because those two things play different roles…

The posed photos bring back your family history and heritage in a way that natural photos can’t. And the natural photos bring back feelings and people’s personalities in a way that posed photos can’t. And together, they’ll be tomorrow’s nostalgia.

Sold. *Subject to contract*.

And your terms are non-negotiable:


6.1 The client will not; under any circumstances; whether of sound mind or under the influence of homemade raspberry gin favours; spend their entire wedding day posing.

6.1.1 ‘Entire wedding day’ is defined as a 24-hour period commencing when the first ‘Happy Wedding Day!’ Whatsapp message is received by either one of the couple.

6.1.2 The term ‘posing’ includes, but is not limited to, smiling like Mona Lisa, laughing whilst pretending not to have seen the camera, and placing one’s hand delicately on one’s face while looking wistfully out of the window.

6.2 The photographer will do everything within their reasonable control to dissuade overzealous ceremony officiants, persistent proud parents and Heckling Hettie’s from demanding any posed photos other than those to which the couple has given their prior written consent.

6.3 The couple reserves the right to change their mind at any point, without prior notice, and is under no obligation to provide any reason for such change.

That’s an actual excerpt from my wedding photography contract.

Just for funs. But also for reals.

Because I get it.

You’re totally up for having a few family photos. (For one thing, you’ve gotta keep the ‘rents happy). And you want nice pictures of the two of you. (Since you’re making such an effort with your hair.) But you don’t want any of that at the expense of experiencing and enjoying your day. You don’t want to miss a moment. And nor should you.

But we need something to make that happen…

Hermione’s time-turner?

A flux capacitator?

Uh-oh! I’m all out of those.

Hmm. Let’s think…

We need a plan, Stan!

And happily, I have one ready to go.

Here it is…

Five steps to balance formal photos with the fun of your wedding

1. Keep your list of group photos short

Group photos take time. And that’s totally natural. Because people are people. They’re at your wedding to enjoy themselves, not take part in a photoshoot.

So prioritise the group pictures that will become your family heirlooms. This varies for each couple, but a typical VIP list includes your immediate family, grandparents, bridesmaids and groomsmen.

But if your wish list is fairly long and you genuinely can’t cut it, step 2 might help…

2. Split your formal photos into several sessions

You know that well-known saying “Time lies when you’re not having fun”? You have heard it, right? Well, it’s true.

How do I know? Because 5 minutes of ironing sheets feels like 50 minutes of absolute agony.

And that’s the funny thing about time. It’s not about how long something takes. It about how the time feels.

In fact, when I ask my newly married couples how long they think their group photos took… their guess is always far longer than it actually was.

And let’s be honest, posing for the camera probably doesn’t rank well on a Google search for ‘Most fun things to do on a wedding day’. (I haven’t actually tested that theory. But I bet tonight’s garlic bread on it.)

But the good thing is: You can trick your brain into thinking you’re spending less time on your posed photos than you actually are…


Instead of taking all your posed pictures in one big chunk, spread them through the day.

So maybe have photos with your bridesmaids and groomsmen before the ceremony, do your immediate family photos at church, take larger group pictures during your drinks reception, and plan some portraits for the evening.

A few short sessions will feel quicker overall compared to one long stint. And you’ll still get all the photos you want.

3. Nominate someone to gather guests for the groups

Want your group photos to be as fast and efficient as possible? Ask your toastmaster or Ushers to get your guests together.

That will leave your resident photographer (hey there!) free to concentrate on arranging people, taking the photos, and making the experience fun.

And you win a Brucey Bonus! Wahey! >> Photos like these – taken by me while guests are moving in and out of the group photos – which would otherwise go unnoticed and uncaptured…

And when it comes to pictures of the two of you…

4. Plan your portraits for quieter moments

Slot your couple shots into parts of the day when your guests are occupied. Like when they’re searching for their seats for dinner, travelling from the church or checking into their hotel rooms. No-one will miss you – and you won’t have to tear yourself away from the party.

Plus, that’ll give you more time to spend with your guests during your drinks reception.

…And I’ll get a greater opportunity to capture natural photos of everyone enjoying themselves. (As well as a chance to photograph your dinner set-up before anyone goes in. Because details are important too, right?).

And there’s something else that can create more time…

5. Book a pre-wedding shoot

There are two things (amongst others) that determine how long your portraits will take:

Nerves… If you feel relaxed, you won’t need time to wind down or warm up, so we’ll get to the good photos fast.

Experience… If you know what to do, we’ll spend less time going through how to stand, what to do with your hands, how much to smile… and more time actually taking pictures.

A pre-wedding shoot will help you feel comfortable in front of the camera, give you an idea of what to do, and get you back to the party before you can say “Are there any mac n’ cheese canapés left?”.


And that’s it. My best advice on how to get those all-important family heirlooms – without sacrificing your sanity or the natural photos you love.

Steal every step, pick the points that feel most you, or ignore it all.

As always, this is just my two-silver-sixpence-in-my-shoes-worth.

And whilst I’ll always give you my honest thoughts on how to make your formal photos as fast and fun as possible, the only rule is that you do you.


Want to delve deeper?

Try these features:

How to slow down time on your wedding day

Pre-wedding shoots: Your shortcut to faster wedding portraits – and the bar


Got a specific question?

I’m here for you. Email or message me and I’ll help.