Many photographers, especially those that work in a reportage or documentary style aren’t keen on taking group shots, and while they’re not my favorite part of the day I will always try and accommodate the bride and grooms wishes. Especially as a wedding is one of the few times you’ll have so many of your family and friends around you. If you don’t want group shots then rest assured that part of my job as your wedding photographer is to capture as many of your guests as possible. There are occasions that will naturally bring them together such as the ceremony and wedding breakfast.
My best advice is to be realistic, you need to allow up to five minutes per group shot, so twelve groups is an hour, that’s a long time for people to be standing around and a big chunk out of your special day. Prior to the wedding give instructions to the best man, bridesmaids and ushers to help organise everyone and provide us with a list of key people and essential groups.
I aim to have everyone naturally posed, not looking like they’re lined up in front of a firing squad. I’ll often use a bench or similar for a more relaxed look and shoot while everyone is interacting rather than looking straight at the camera. If you’re looking for something more creative, that’s no problem, just let me know your ideas in advance. Most things are possible with a little prior planning.
My suggestion for groups would be:
1. Bridal party, bridesmaids, best man and ushers.
2. Bride’s immediate family
3. Bride and groom’s immediate families
4. Grooms immediate family
That should take no more than half an hour including a bit of time hunting down elusive guest propping up the bar.
Having said all this it is your day, and this is only advice. I will always do my very best to accommodate your wishes and capture the shots you require.