How to deal with a bridal group during location shoot/s.

Mainly for photographers, but also can be a very beneficial read for a bride and groom J.

Often photographers ask me how to deal with a bridal group who doesn’t want to co-operate during a shoot or even being rude sometimes to a photographer. Especially if female.

I always talk to the bride and groom about photos, locations with their bridal group before the wedding. I am letting them know about what is likely to happen, that a bridal group might not be thinking of photos being done, how they are tired, starting usually very early in a day, therefore as soon as ceremony is over and alcohol becomes available (usually bridal car supplies it) – the only things they want to do is to relax and have a good time.

I always remind bride and groom that it doesn’t matter what they want to do – either a big group shot with everybody after the ceremony or shots at location’s with a bridal group – everybody is there to have a good time and catch up with people they haven’t seen for a long time. They are not there to take photos. The only people who are interested in taking photos are bride and groom.

Guests/bridal group often consider a photographer to be a selfish, bossy person who is there to dictate and make people do what the photographer wants them to do for his/her selfish reasons and up sales. They never think about that it might be a bride and groom who actually want to get particular shots done. It is often a matter of bride or groom talking to their bridal group in advance and letting them know that they are there to help and to cooperate and not just to wear pretty dresses and look good. That it is the bride and groom wish to have a particular photo done and they asked a photographer to make it happen.

Also, on the day, I often thank the bridal group for their cooperation, especially men, I acknowledge that they are doing something to help the couple (especially bride J ), even if they might prefer to be somewhere else. I am thanking them for being patient and even uncomfortable sometimes (hot, cold, tired, etc..) for the sake of newlyweds.

I even joke about it – something like “let’s just get it over with” or- “ let’s now make our parents happy” – or “now we have to do a couple of boring, “formal” shots  for the sake of …..parents – otherwise we are in trouble, let’s do it quick so we can have fun after that”.

A major one is to ask the couple – how many shots do they really want to have with a bridal group? Often they would say – one or two.. Then you might tell them – In this case – why not have shots done with the bridal group straight after the ceremony and then go to a location without them as that would save you a lot of time?  (I am describing how long does it take to wait for every person to get in and out of the car, bridesmaids having high heels and not being able to move fast; somebody is bound to be thirsty, somebody will be cold or hot, a few will need to go to the bathroom, a few will get hungry, so on and so forth…) Then, I might say: “If we only have 45 min or one hour to get in the car, drive to a location, park the car, get out of the car, walk (high heels – remember?) towards the spot, spend at least 30 min at the location –  then all the way back to a reception, thinking about all of the above I have mentioned, – imagine how much time you will lose by simply just waiting for everybody?  Let’s say, even if you lose only 5 min per person – with 10 people in a bridal group – here is at least 30-50 min gone. That leaves you almost no time to take a relaxed, beautiful shots for yourself. All the time is taken to drive to and fro and to deal with all the people”.

“What do you think if we take a few shots with everybody after the ceremony, then in the nearest park with a bridal group and then let the bridal group have a rest, have something to eat, kick their shoes off, lie on the grass (that is if they still want a bridal group to go with them to a location because of the car situation or all other sorts of legitimate reasons) or bridal group can go straight to a reception and have a rest.  

They often, often will pick the option to do a few shots with a bridal group either at the church straight after the ceremony, maybe only at one location (as they often want a couple of locations) and then do another location for couple shots only without a bridal group. And they do appreciate your advice especially if it is given in a light manner, joking, thinking of their best interests. But always asking their opinion about how they envision their day, if being with a bridal group all the time is important; not forcing your opinion on them. You will find that even if they still opt for taking their bridal group with them to all locations – they will be much better prepared for the day and what to expect from everybody. They will also talk to their friends about their day and what they want to achieve in advance.

That is also why I always ask a bride in advance to assign an authority figure such as a priest or a celebrant to announce after the ceremony something like this: “Dear… our beautiful couple want to have a group shot done with everybody. We need people’s cooperation for 5 min or so. Can you please stay on your spots or follow bride and groom to the courtyard, etc..etc…”

I say to a bride and groom – “People listen to authority. If you (bride and groom) tell them – can you please go there or there – they just smile, ignore what you say and still do what they want to do, right?  If I (me) tell them what to do – they might think – who does she think she is to tell us what to do and where to stay? Some bloody bossy photographer… But… If a priest or the celebrant asks them to do it – then it is fine and they are more cooperative”.  In this case – you, the photographer, are only a tool who makes it happen as per bride and groom wishes.

Sorry if I rumbled – hope some of it helps?

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