After The Ceremony

After The Ceremony

Once the couple are outside and the guests start to file out, you need to get set up to take the formal family shots. You should have already scouted out a good place to take these, so you will be able to get on with the shots quickly and efficiently, which will keep everyone happy.

As I mentioned in the previous tutorial it's a good idea to recruit the head usher, the best man or some other relative who knows everyone to help you get the various groups together. Give this helper your spare shot list (you did remember that, right?) and have him make sure that all the people who are needed for photos stay where they are and don't nip off early to the reception. If everyone knows where they are supposed to be you can rattle through the formal shots in about 15 minutes. Again, take at least two of every shot, just to be on the safe side.

Traditionally the best place for the formal photos is outside the main (west) door of the church, because it should have the best light during the afternoon. The door makes a good neutral backdrop, and if there are some steps you can use them to pose people of different heights together.

For larger groups you'll have to move well back and use a wide-angle lens. If the light's good there's no point using a flash on the big group shots, but for the smaller groups a little diffused fill-flash can help to bring out the details of the wedding dress and fill in any shadows, especially if it's a very bright sunny day. A very useful accessory for this type of photo is a Lastolite reflector. Have a helper hold it in position to light up the bride's face and the wedding dress. If it has a gold side, use this.

These days its not at all unusual for a family at a wedding to include several step-parents and ex-spouses, and its not even guaranteed that the happy couple with be of different genders, so family group shots can get rather complicated. There's no particular rule about the order or grouping other than what the couple want, but the traditional shots that most people will ask for include:


  • The bride with her bridesmaids, youngest at the front
  • The groom with the best man
  • The bride with the best man and ushers
  • The bride and groom with both fathers
  • The bride and groom and best man with both fathers
  • The bride and groom with her parents
  • The bride and groom with his parents
  • The bride and groom with both sets of parents
  • The bride and groom with all her family
  • The bride and groom with all his family
  • The bride and groom with all family guests
  • The bride and groom with their friends
  • The bride and groom leaving for the reception
  • Guests and bridesmaids throwing confetti
  • The bride and groom sitting in the wedding car about to leave


Once all the formal shots are out of the way and the guests have started leaving for the reception, now is the time to take some photos of the happy couple together. Again, you should have a location pre-arranged for these shots, somewhere other than the church door where you took the group shots. The couple have the wedding car at their disposal, so is there a local park nearby? If you don't know the local area, ask someone who does. Maybe a children's play area with some swings? A stream with a romantic bridge? Perhaps you can use the wedding car itself as a background.

Once again these are things you need to plan out in advance. Use a bit of imagination - or some ideas from the internet - and try to come up with something memorable and photogenic, and take shots in a number of different poses, but don't go completely overboard; this is a wedding, not a fashion shoot. You should plan to spend no more than 20 minutes doing these shots, because by then all the guests will have arrived at the reception, and be enjoying a few drinks while waiting for the couple to make their entrance.

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