I get this question A LOT. I include it on the questionnaire that I send my couples before their wedding because it is so important to have this organized BEFORE the wedding day. There are a few important things to keep in mind as you build a list to give to your wedding photographer:
Time is Precious
Your time on your wedding day is precious. You only have so many hours to soak in these moments and the last thing that most couples want to be doing is standing four hours for formal group photos. There is a fairly simple math equation that you can use to figure out how much time you will need in your timeline for group formals. For small to average sized groups (less than 15) it takes approximately three minutes per group. For anything larger it takes about five minutes per group. Based on your list you can do the math. I have had couples give me lists of 75 group photos and when you do the math on that….you see what I am saying. I recommend couples keep it to 10-15 groups max so that you can spend your wedding day being in the moment and enjoying the people around you.
Less is More
Trust me, you do not want to give your wedding photographer a list of 75 different formal group photos for your wedding (see the above). There will be chances to grab those photos on the dance floor, at the bar, and other times during the reception. Prioritize the most important people you want in photos and try to stick to family.
Once you have the list of formal group photographs the next step is to prepare for the photos before the wedding day. Notify every person you want to be in a group photo by calling them up and telling them when and where they need to be for the photos. For example, if plan to do them directly after the ceremony you need to let them know that. Be as specific as possible and when in doubt ask them to arrive 15 minutes before the group photos start.
Below is a sample formal group photo list that would work for most couples with a few tweaks:
Couple + parents
Couple + second set of parents
Couple + siblings
Couple + second set of siblings
Couple + grandparents
Couple + second set of grandparents
Couple + both sets of parents
Couple + all parents and grandparents