Can I be truly honest with you? I’m not a huge fan of endless formal images. Many couples find the experience fairly stressful and I know from experience that most will choose candid images over the more formal ones in their wedding album.
However, I still think they are super important and here’s why…..
Over the 10 years that I have now been documenting weddings, I have heard one thing said over and over again:
“I’m so thankful we have an image of us all together.”
Life is short and we unfortunately loose loved ones along the way. So although a staged image of your closest family might seem an unnecessary part of your wedding plans now, in 20 years time that photo will be a very cherished document of those you love.
So here’s my Top 5 Tips to getting the most from your Formal Images
Formal Doesn’t Need to be Boring!
My favourite moments happen in between the Formal photos! They are the moments when the group are not completely ‘photo-ready!’ They often document so much more about relationships in the group than standing to attention does. Maybe ask your photographer to include these moments or adopt the idea of ‘informal formals’ entirely!
Your Formal Images should take 30 minutes. Any longer than this and your cheeks will ache, you will miss your canapés and champagne and your guests will start to miss you. Depending on how many guests you have and how well behaved they are, you should look at doing no more than 6-8 group shots in this time.
A typical list might be as follows:
- Bride & Groom with Brides parents
- Bride & Groom with Brides close family
- Bride & Groom with Grooms parents
- Bride & Groom with Grooms close family
- Bride & Groom with both parents
- Full Wedding Group Shot
- Bride and Bridesmaids
- Groom and Groomsmen
Limit the family group shots to the closest family members and keep them below 10 guests if you can. Your photographer will get candid shots of your extended family and if there are any special guests you can request a bespoke image of them
Be an Astronaut
The Formal images are the most problematic part of the wedding day, without question! They are what I call the ‘danger zone’ in that even the most calm and happy couple can get tired and grumpy! Guests get distracted by canapés, some disappear altogether and the Bride and Groom are often left waiting.
Part of Astronaut training is learning to imagine every possible variation of outcomes including everything that might go wrong. This allows you to problem solve situations before they happen.
When planning your group shots, make a note of those that include small children, those with mobility issues and those who are not able to stand for long. Also consider the relationship dynamics of the groups to avoid any possible problems. Make sure your photographer is aware of them all so they can construct the timeline accordingly.
Put someone else in charge of gathering family and friends. I get my couples to choose 2 people, one from each side of their family who know the people in the shots. The chosen helpers need to meet these requirements:
- They are organized, calm, responsible and completely non-distractible, especially by canapés.
- They need to agree to their role before the wedding.
- Preferably they are without small children and they are not the couple’s parent.
Keep Calm and Enjoy!
No matter how much preparation is done before, you can’t always plan for every eventuality. Things run late, people disappear, children refuse to be photographed…….it happens! Agree with your photographer beforehand, that should someone be missing, they will attempt to get a shot of this person or an informal group shot, later in the day.