I say Dreaded because I've yet to find anyone who likes doing them, be they photographer or wedding guest, yet they are seen as essential by many people and I understand why. As a documentary wedding photographer I do try and get pictures of everyone at the wedding, but if it is a large wedding ( there were 130 people at the last one ) I can't always get a good candid shot of everyone. There might be some guests at the wedding you have not seen for 20 years, and you won't see them for another 20, if at all, so the group shots are an important record of the day and deserve due care and attention.
Here are a few hints and I tips I've picked up over the years doing these shots..
1.Eliminate distractions behind the photographer. If I'm trying to take a group shot and there are a bunch of people trying to take snaps with their iPhones behind me, then all the people in the group shot will be looking in different directions at different people. To get around this, I let the guests take their shots first and then politely ask them to move out of line of sight while I take my shot.
2.Take multiple shots. You can be sure that in almost any large group shots, there will be someone blinking. I always take 4 or 5 shots and then if I need to do some head swapping in post production, I can easily do so.
3.Make sure the photographer has a shot list, and get the ushers to help round up the quests. Start with the largest group shot, and then work down towards the smaller ones, this lets people wander off to the bar more quickly. If I'm a friend of the groom and only required for one shot, I don't want to hang around while all the family shots are done, I want to do my bit and get it over with.
4.If you have something interesting for a background then plan it with the photographer, weather permitting of course. Or you could go for a mini event, like the balloons being released below, just let you photographer know in advance. Something like this really helps people relax and look their best ( well, not too relaxed !)
5.Lastly, think about the timing of your group shots and talk about this to your photographer. It's fine to do a couple after the ceremony, but usually people want to get to the bar/reception at that point and relax a bit, and it's often a bad time of day in terms of lighting ( the sun will be high in the sky and quite harsh ). If there is an option to do the majority of the group shots at the reception, take it.