5 Top Tips for Relaxed Family Group Shots

Feb 17, 2020

How to have chilled family group shots that you will want to frame

Family Group Shots // Even if you generally want candid wedding photography, it’s totally understandable that you still want a few guaranteed shots of you and your family. These kind of photos may seem at odds with a relaxed wedding vibe but don’t worry – I completely recognise the importance of family group shots at a wedding, and I’ll always ensure you get them in a chilled and (dare I say it?) enjoyable way.

Now, you may be thinking “but Jordanna, I’ve done a deep dive of your website and read every single word you’ve ever written, and you quite distinctly say that something you promise never to do is ask the groomsmen to hold up the bride in that weird, catch of the day way – so how are you going to make the family photos any different?” To that, I say: thank you for being my number one fan, first off, and secondly: here are my tips on how to get family group shots that are pre-organised, but still super laid back. The only cheese in sight will be the canapés (and that sentence. Sorry about that.)

Bridesmaids and bride laughing with flower girl pretending to be a ghost under a skirt. Colourful 2 piece bridesmaids outfits. Two brides and best girls laughing in candid outtake during family group shot photos Bride Groom and bridal squad on the streets of manchester Groom and ushers in casual fun group shot sat on chairs backwards When group shots go wrong and the results are hilarious. Usher faceplanting during family group shot Simple family photo of bride and her mum and dad at disused railway museum

My top tips for laid back family groups

1. The first tip, on the subject of that godawful Catch Of The Day pose, is to not force you into any unnatural formations. I won’t be calling out to your parents to be cradling you like an awkward graduation photo; and I won’t be rearranging you into height order or Prom-style couple embraces. Instead, I’ll get you all chatting comfortably, then get you looking at the camera for a couple. Simple, right?

Bridal party in vintage dresses at Oxleaze Barn Cotswolds Wedding

Cheese free zone guaranteed

2. As I said before, it’ll be a cheese-free zone. The best photos are always the ones that truly reflect what was happening in the moment, so the photos might not be static (and they’ll be all the better for it!). I’m always there to gently direct if need be, but often someone will make a terrible joke and you’ll all dissolve into fits of giggles anyway – those are the golden ones. 

Lads line up at Hope Mill Theatre Wedding in Manchester laughing with beers in hand

Let’s plan to spend your time having fun not doing endless line up photos

3. Group photos shouldn’t take up a large portion of the day, either. The reason a lot of people in more traditional group shots look so glassy-eyed by the end is because they’ve spent about an hour grimacing with different variations of family, extended family, and pushy aunties. And the more time you spend grimacing next to your family and friends, the less time you spend giggling and dancing with them instead. For this reason, I’ll only spend a couple of minutes tops on each group. 

4. To ensure it’s as speedy as possible, I’ll also ask for a minimal shot list beforehand so I know who’s going in front of the lens. On top of that, I’ll ask you to recruit one of your wedding party (preferably one who has a loud voice, and who knows most guests by name – there’s always one) to help gather people. Having everyone in the right place helps speed the process up hugely, and gets you at the bar/grabbing your food/on that dancefloor quicker.

Fun family group shot with deckchairs and big balloons at Hestercombe Gardens Wedding

Chances are your folks will get it if you tell them what you are planning

5. Sometimes it’s also a good idea to give your parents or older relatives a heads up that this is how things will be going down. The chances are they weren’t lucky enough to have a candid, alternative wedding photographer for their day, and instead just had to suffer the traditional yawn-athon group photo session, so they’ll just expect that that’s what you’ll be doing too. Cue sixty minutes of boredom, minor rage, and about that same number of extended relatives swapped in and out too. Politely but firmly warn your parents in advance that you will be keeping the groups to a minimum, and won’t be having one with your parents and all their cousins. They’ll understand.

If this kind of thing sounds up your street, then I’d love to hear from you – pop me a message HERE and we can start chatting about preferred Catch Of The Day positions. Just kidding. 

This post is illustrated by Family Groups mainly shot in 2019 but a few older faves thrown in for good measure…
Outtake from family group photo at Huntsham Court Winter Wedding in Devon

And, of course, you can rely on me to include the funny outtakes!

Bride flanked by two super cool bridesmaids in shocking pink outfits with colourful wedding bouquets Groom and groomsmen outside Axnoller Farm stylised fun shot Bride and bridesmaids laughing under shade of a tree all holding purple bouquets Bride and groom kissing after ceremony at Rowton Castle surrounded by their bridal party Bridal party line up outside Brixton East now 100 Barrington in Brixton Family Group Shot on the streets of London Bride and bridesmaids in Cafe Royal Hotel London sat around laughing Bride, groom and brides parents get together for a family group shot in a field in Otley Leeds Group shot with added goats at Cogges Farm Witney Oxford Fun family group shot at Tipi Wedding Bridesmaid line up group shot at wedding in Sussex Bride and Bridesmaids at South Farm pose for funny family group shot photo Family group shot outside Hackney Town Hall in London

Want more?

If this post floats your boat and you want to look at more of my family group shots – admittedly from many moons ago – then you can do, here. Or maybe just some more of my wedding planning gems – that can be found here. I’m working on this category to make my site super helpful for anyone planning a wedding. Do let me know if there is anything you would like to see on my site.

PS If you look through these images and think,“YEAH this is the exact CHILLED & FUN VIBE we want for our wedding photos!” then please do get in touch. I would be really happy to hear from you!


Award Winning London Wedding Photographer. Photographing weddings all over London, UK and Europe for laid back & fun loving couples.



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