How To Organize Formal Family Photos on a Wedding Day

Amongst all the joy and happiness on a wedding day, there is one part that is usually dreaded by most people; the family formals.  But why? These are the photos that moms love and grandmas cherish. Plus, when else will the whole family be dressed up together?! But when the reception music is playing and the cocktail drinks are being poured, taking excellent portraits can be the last thing on their mind.

So in today’s post, I’m sharing my 3 tips for organizing your family portraits and ensuring that they go as quickly and smoothly as possible.  Because, let’s face it, I know you all want to get to the reception and get to celebrating! 😉

1) Make a list of the family members you want to actually include in your formal portraits.

By making a list of your family members, your portrait session will go by a lot smoother.  Let your photographer know ahead of time who you want in the photos.  Having a detailed list of the names of the family members always helps me to ensure that I get all the shots my couples are wanting and that no one gets left out.

  • Here is a sample list of the family shots you will most likely want to have:

Family Formals –  list with names and relations:

  • B&G – Groom’s entire family
  • B&G – Groom’s extended family
  • B&G – Groom’s immediate family
  • B&G – Groom’s parents
  • B&G – Groom’s siblings
  • B&G – Bride’s extended family
  • B&G – Bride’s extended family
  • B&G – Bride’s immediate family
  • B&G – Bride’s parents
  • B&G – Bride’s siblings
  • B&G – both sets of parents
  • B&G – both sets of siblings
  • B&G – both sets of immediate family

2) Let the family members on your list know what is expected from them.  

Give everyone in your family who is on your list a heads up to let them know when the family photos will take place and that it would mean the world to you to be there.  More often than not, the family formals at the weddings I’ve shot happen directly after the ceremony.  If this is the case, have whoever is officiating the ceremony remind the family members who have previously been asked to be a part of the family photos, to meet up at whatever spot you decide on after he gives instructions to all the guests after the processional.  This helps to remind them not to sneak off to the cocktail hour and allows everyone to be on the same page.

3) Choose a point person on each side of the family to help.  

Every family usually has someone who is more loud and outgoing than others.  By asking them to help you keep your family on track, you know that they will be heard by the rest of them.  This is also helpful in case someone needs to be brought back to the portrait session.

Setting clear expectations and letting your family members know that you want them in your family portraits on your wedding day is very important.  Letting your photographer know how many people and groupings you are wanting in your photos will make it go a lot smoother as well.  Once I have all the family members there, I give them the reminder that they are there because you have specifically asked for a photo with them on your wedding day.  And that they are very important to you.  I also ask for their cooperation and patience so we can get through the photos as quickly as possible so they can get to the reception.  This reminds everyone why they are there and how much they are loved and valued by you!

These are the photos that will sit on mantels, showing you on your best day ever with your family and loved ones.  They will also tell the story of your wedding day for many years to come.  I hope these tips help as you plan your family portrait list for your wedding and give you some ideas on making the most of that part of your day!

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