How To Organize Wedding Day Family Portraits

How To Organize Wedding Day Family Portraits

Amongst all the joy and happiness on a wedding day, there is one part that most people dread… The family portraits.  Why is that? 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 beautiful portraits can be the last thing on their mind.

So in today’s post, I’m sharing my 3 best tips for organizing your family portraits!  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! 😉

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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.  Your photographer will need to know ahead of time who you want in the photos.  Creating a detailed list of the names of the family members always helps me. That ensures that I get all the shots my couples are wanting.  

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 you expect from them.  

Give everyone in your family who is on your list a heads up.  Let them know when the wedding day family portraits 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:

Ask your officiant to make this reminder after the ceremony.  “To the family members who have been been asked to be a part of the family photos!  Please meet up at {whatever spot you decide}.” Do this 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.

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Set clear expectations.

Your family members need to know that you want them in your family portraits on your wedding day. This is very important.  Letting your photographer know how many people/groupings you are wanting in your photos will make it go a lot smoother.  

Once I have all the family members there, I give them this reminder.  “You are here because the bride & groom have specifically asked for a photo with them.” This way they know are very important to you.  I also ask for their cooperation and patience so we can get through the photos as quickly as possible. That way they can get to the reception asap.  Everyone will remember 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 help 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!

sacramento wedding winchester country club wedding family portrait

Future Brides:

***Brides, if you are currently planning your own wedding, I have some blog posts with tips and tricks for you.  Check them out here and here!  To see more beautiful weddings of my wonderful couples, click here.  If you would want me to photograph your wedding, I would love to chat about all the details!  Please check out my pricing and set up a time for a free consultation here! I love chatting with my brides about their best day ever!  

I would love it if we were friends!  Follow me on Instagram to see more of my photos and for more wedding day tips!


This beautiful Wedding Day was at Winchester Country Club in Meadow Vista, CA. 


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