We’ve all been there. Once upon a time you were guest at a wedding and cocktail hour lasted much longer than anticipated due to family portraits taking an hour or more. Let us share a little secret with you. There is a way to avoid this at your own wedding. With a little prep work family wedding photos can be done efficiently in 30 minutes or less. Just follow our 8 tips below and you’ll have stress free family photos on your wedding day. After all, wedding photos should be done quickly and efficiently so you can get back to the party!
1. Prepare 1-2 Months Before the Wedding
Before your wedding we highly recommend making a list of family portraits you would like taken on the big day! We strongly suggest doing this 1-2 months before the wedding. After all, the closer you get to the big day, the more last minute details pop up. By getting this list done early, you’ll ensure a little less stress leading up to the wedding.
2. Keep the List of Must-Have Family Photos Short
To ensure the sanity of your family, your guests and most importantly you, we highly recommend limiting your family portrait list to 20 groupings. Trust us, anything beyond that and people start to get a little crazy. First consider the photos that are most important. For most couples this will be photos with parents, grandparents and siblings. After that you can start to think about aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews etc. Even if you do have a large family it’s important to make family photos go quickly. Do the most important photos during this designated time and if needed more photos can be done at the reception. This ensures that dinner can get started on time and your guests will love you for that.
3. Get Input from Parents and Your Fiancé
Undoubtedly your parents, your fiancé and their parents will have an opinion about who should be included in the family wedding photos. Along with all the groupings in your own list, someone else will surely have a few more groupings they might like to add. It’s important that they are aware that limiting the list to 20 groupings helps to ensure a smooth family photo time. By making everyone aware of the list beforehand and asking for input when creating the list of necessary photos, family portraits will be much less stressful. We highly recommend sending both sets of parents the list of must have photos once it is created. After that, they can give their input about anyone that needs added. Finally, once everyone has had their say in the process send the final list to your photographer so they are ready for the big day!
4. Photograph any Elderly, or Handicapped Individuals and Young Children First
It’s important to be considerate of any elderly family members when creating the must-have photos list. If anyone has trouble standing for long periods of time, make sure to get their photos done first. This includes people with walkers and canes, as well as fidgety children who can’t stand still. By getting these photos done first you help your elderly loved ones get to a comfortable seat faster and help to avoid a cry session from a grumpy and possibly hungry child.
5. Communicate with Family Ahead of Time
This tip is so important! Make sure your family knows that they will be needed for portraits during a particular time on the wedding day. It helps if you can give them as much advanced notice as possible. If you want portraits before the ceremony, tell your family to arrive by a particular time. If you want family photos after the vows have been said, ask the officiant to make an announcement following the ceremony. This ensures everyone is on the same page and that they know where to be and when.
6. Delegate Responsibility to a Family Member
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that your bridesmaids and your photographer don’t always know every distant relative that is a part of your family. This is why it is helpful to have a family member available to track down anyone who may have skipped out on portraits and headed to the bar. It’s even better if we have a family member from both sides of the family available. Designate them before the wedding day and let them know you have a special job for them. It’s a great role for that one family member who wants to help with all the wedding day plans. By designating a family member to track people down it helps the photographer to keep everything running smoothly and quickly.
7. Consider the Location for Family Photos
Without a doubt it’s important to consider the location of where you want your family photos to take place on the wedding day. At church ceremonies, family wedding photos are typically done at the alter or outside in front of the church. At outdoor venues, there are a number of different options. Typically family wedding photos are done at the ceremony location. However these photos can also be done under some trees, or in front of a building or at a special area of your venue. When in doubt ask your photographer for location suggestions. Most importantly, make sure that your family is aware of where the photos will take place.
8. Inform your Photographer of Special Circumstances
Oftentimes people don’t want to let others know about their family drama but this should be the one exception. It is so important to let your photographer know of any issues going on in your family. If your parents are not able to be within 10 ft of one another please give us a heads up. If you want a family photo with your sister’s boyfriend and one without just let us know. But most importantly just keep us in the loop so we can avoid any awkward situations. It’s much appreciated.
Sample Family Wedding Photos List
Need a little help in starting your wedding family photos list? Not a problem! Take a look at a sample below to help get you started.
Bride’s Side of the Family
Bride’s Extended Family: Parents, Grandparents, Siblings and their Spouses and Children, Aunts, Uncles, Nieces, Nephews, etc. (Include all names)
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents and Grandparents (Sally and John, Jane and Bob, Ann and Daniel)
Bride and Groom with Grandparents (Jane and Bob)
Bride and Groom with Grandparents (Ann and Daniel)
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents, Siblings, and Sibling’s Family (Sally and John, Matt, Amy and Chris, Bryan and Amanda, and Jess, Steve and Amelia)
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents and Siblings (Sally and John, Matt, Bryan and Jess)
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Siblings (Matt, Bryan, and Jess)
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents (Sally and John)
Bride and Groom’s Family Photos
Bride’s Extended Family and Groom’s Extended Family (Include all names)
Bride and Groom and Bride’s Parents and Siblings and Groom’s Parents and Siblings (Include all names)
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents and Groom’s Parents (Sally and John, Barb and Kevin)
Bride and Groom with ring bearer and flower girls (Amelia, Emerson, Carson and Rose)
Groom’s Side of the Family
Groom’s Extended Family: Parents, Grandparents, Siblings and their Spouses and Children, Aunts, Uncles, Nieces, Nephews, etc. (Include all names)
Bride and Groom with Groom’s Parents and Grandparents (Barb and Kevin, Janelle and Stan, Sue and Don)
Bride and Groom with Grandparents (Sue and Don)
Bride and Groom with Grandparents (Janelle and Stan)
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents, Siblings, and Sibling’s Family (Kevin and Barb, Chris, Ashley and Calvin, Michelle and Steve, and Adina, Bryn and Johnna)
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents and Siblings (Kevin, Barb, Chris, Michelle, and Adina)
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Siblings (Chris, Michelle, and Adina)
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents (Kevin and Barb)
There you have it. These 8 tips will help you have a little less stress about the family portraits part of your big day. Trust us, your family and friends will love you for having this part of the wedding day planned out. Ultimately what family photo combinations are taken at the wedding is completely up to you. By limiting the amount of groupings you’ll have more time to actually talk to family and friends who came to celebrate with you. This will help you be able to actually enjoy the party with all your favorite people.
Did you find these tips helpful? What other tips have you heard to help make family photos at a wedding go more smoothly? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this advice helpful think of how much more advice we could give you as your wedding photographers. Check out our wedding photography info page and contact us today if you are interested in having us capture your special day!
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Meet Broc & Alexa
Hi! We're Broc and Alexa and we are senior and family portrait photographers serving Columbus, OH. We love our two dogs, Duke and Frankie and have an obsession with iced coffee and Reese's. We would love the opportunity to photograph special moments for you and your family.
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