In the past four years that I have been in the industry, I’ve seen family photos go really well and go really poorly! It’s crazy how much times have changed. I know at my parents’ wedding [28 years this weekend!] they spent a lot of time taking A TON of family formals. That’s what was cool back then and it’s what they wanted. Now I like to think our team does a great job at getting the sweetest special moments but also getting the family portraits too. These will be the ones your Grandma will love!

Back in September at my cousin’s wedding, the photographer was incredibly stressed out and took 2, yes 2, family formals of our 30+ people family. She didn’t even look at the camera to make sure they came out right! Or that our eyes were open! It’s so important to our team to have a game plan when it comes to your family portraits. I have a few tips down here below to help you out! There’s even a timeline to help you two out at the end to get the list started.

Communicate

The first thing you will want to do once you have created your family formal list is to let those special family members know that you want a photograph with them. Let them know that they can stay after the ceremony to stick around for these family portraits. The idea here is to make this portion of the day go by as quickly as possible!

Honesty is the Best Policy

You will want to be completely honest about all family relationships when chatting through this part of the day with your wedding photographer. Your photographer certainly doesn’t want to put you or your family members in sticky situations. It’s best to let them know about divorced parents, sibling rivalries, anything that could potentially make anyone uncomfortable.

Time Will Tell

Whenever you are talking through this portion of the day, it may seem like you have a lot of time during this ‘break’ in the day. It actually flies by! You want this to be fast for all that are involved. No one wants hungry grandparents! It takes time to get all of the family members in line, looking at the camera and having young children paying attention too! We recommend 10-15 groups during this time to make sure these moments get captured and you can run into the sunset with your spouse! Don’t feel like you need to get a photo with each cousin you have – some of you have B I G families! If you two have large families, you can grab a large photo with your family members and your partner’s family members.

Focus

At almost all of our weddings, family photos come right after the ceremony has ended. We don’t want you two going into cocktail hour and having every person wanting to tell you “Congratulations!” before we can grab photos before the party gets started! I always ask our brides to have their officiant make an announcement after you have left to let everyone, aside from your family, to hang out and enjoy the cocktail hour. This helps us get to work much easier!

Order

It doesn’t matter which side of the family you start with for these photos. Take in to account if either of you have very elderly guests or very young kiddos that you would like to be in these photos. You don’t want older folks sitting for long to wait their turn. It is best to get their photos so they can find their table and get rested for when you walk in!

Reception List

Do you have quite a large family? Or a lot of friends you really want photos with? If that’s the case, be sure to get with your photographer to create a Reception List of people that you would like photos with. You don’t want to have these folks waiting around during the cocktail hour when they can be out and enjoying it. There will be plenty of time in the reception to get these sweet portraits!

PARTNER 1’S FAMILY:

Partner 1 and Partner 2 with EVERYONE that is related, immediate and extended family of both sides (includes aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.)
Partner 1 and Partner 2 with Partner 1 immediate and extended family (includes aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.)
Partner 1 and Partner 2 with Partner 1 parents, grandparents and siblings
Partner 1 and Partner 2 with Partner 1 grandparents
Partner 1 and Partner 2 with Partner 1 parents and siblings
Partner 1 with siblings
Partner 1 with brother
Partner 1 with sister
Partner 1 and Partner 2 with Partner 1 parents
Partner 1 with parents
Partner 1 with mom
Partner 1 with dad
Partner 1 and Partner 2 with both sets of parents

*Partner 1’s side is released to cocktail hour*

PARTNER 2’S FAMILY:

Partner 1 and Partner 2 with Partner 2 immediate and extended family (includes aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.)
Partner 1 and Partner 2 with Partner 2 parents, grandparents and siblings
Partner 1 and Partner 2 with Partner 2 grandparents
Partner 1 and Partner 2 with Partner 2 parents and siblings
Partner 2 with siblings
Partner 2 with sister
Partner 2 with brother
Partner 1 and Partner 2 with Partner 2 parents
Partner 2 with parents
Partner 2 with mom
Partner 2 with dad

I hope you found this to be super helpful when it comes to planning your own family portraits. Are you still looking for your wedding photographer? We would love to chat with you and hear about all of the special things that you are planning! Fill out the form below and I will get back with you soon! 🙂

Heather Herrick

Heather Herrick

Bride Manager