Six? Really? No, not really. That's just an arbitrary number that has no relevance to your own wedding. I don't think anybody can provide you with a list of group photos you should get at your wedding. However, as a wedding photographer in Bristol, I can certainly help you come up with a number. We've probably all been to weddings where the photographer took over half the day to shoot formal group photos. Sometimes this is the photographer insisting, sometimes it's what the client actually wants but more often than not it's what the client thinks they want; all they have to go on are Pinterest and internet lists and to draw from their own experiences.
As a documentary wedding photographer, it's my job to record the day but also to advise and to manage expectations. I've been to a fair few weddings over the years as the photographer, but, I've also been on the other side of the camera as a guest so know what it's like to wait and wait for the wedding photographer to finish. It's easy to spend hour after hour working through every iteration of group photos in a variety of poses but I really feel you'll be missing out on why you're having a wedding in the first place - a celebration with all those closest to you; I recommend spending quality time with them, not standing in front of me!
Formal group photos are a record of who was present and what they were wearing; not much else. There is nothing wrong with this, I enjoy doing them, I think they're important and I'm certainly getting a few at my own wedding. However, they are staged so do lack genuine emotion; it's hard to look back on these types of photos and get a feeling of time and place.
I shoot weddings the way I would want my own wedding photographed. I want the photographer to get on with their job without disturbing us or our guests. When choosing your wedding photographer, be sure that they know they're working for you and not the other way around - you don't want someone spending hours dragging you around getting dramatic shots to boost their portfolio at the expense of your precious time on your wedding day.
There is another way! When I take group photos, I aim to get them done efficiently in 10-15 mins, not fussing over every small detail or overly complicated lighting set-ups. I find taking hours to do formal photos really breaks up the wedding. During the group 'formals' I prefer the clients and guests to still have fun throughout, then getting them straight back to the party ASAP. I know that I still want some group shots for myself and our parents.
But, after all that, you still didn't answer the question! You're right, let's go with six.
Here are a few group shots from a wedding at Clevedon Hall.