Family photos have the opportunity to be the part of your wedding day that causes the most stress and confusion if it isn’t planned properly. But they’re so important! Aside from the portraits of my husband and I, family photos are far and beyond the most printed photos from my wedding day. My goal as a photographer is to keep these portraits running as smoothly as possible so your family can continue to enjoy the day stress free! Here’s the key to success:
STICK TO IMMEDIATE FAMILY ONLY
My best advice is always to limit family formal time to immediate family members ONLY – parents, siblings, and grandparents. That’s it! If it’s important for you to get photos with cousins and aunts / uncles, we can make time to grab these photos during the cocktail hour or reception in attempt to minimize stress and running behind schedule.
The number one way to minimize family portrait stress is to over-communicate with your family members on what will be taking place. Make sure everyone is on the same page of where to be and exactly which photos will be taken. My advice is to tell family members to arrive 15 minutes before the time that is scheduled with your photographer. Also, share the family photo list (see the next point below) with them in advance so their expectations are managed. We don’t want any arguments to arise!
WRITE OUT THE LIST
I personally gather the family photo list from my clients two months before their wedding date. It allows for plenty of time to run the list by your family to ensure all combos are included. On the wedding day, an important key to success is having a second shooter call out the names provided on the list. As long as everyone is listening, it’s seamless!
HAVE THE BRIDAL PARTY HELP
It’s great to have a go-to member of the bridal party (who is familiar with the family members) who can assist in gathering the family participating in photos before the scheduled start time! It takes the burden off of the bride & groom, and keeps things moving!
PLAN A LOGICAL “WHEN AND WHERE”
I always advise my couples to do family photos prior to the ceremony. Once the ceremony is over, your parents are pulled every which way to chat with guests, so trust me that you’ll want it done before! I write in a 30 minute “hide out” period so that my couples can remain unseen to guests before the ceremony begins, so I plan family formals to take place an hour before the ceremony start time. Keeping in mind grandparents or family members with mobility issues, family photos should be near the ceremony site and on a flat surface. Also, if you’re getting married in a church, I always suggest doing these photos outdoors, not by the altar. Fluorescent lighting rarely makes a good framer!