Tips for family formals on the wedding day

Tips, Weddings

January 31, 2023

Does the thought of family portraits on your wedding day totally stress you out? Like you have such a huge family there’s no way they all cooperate? Or they’re just boisterous and tend to not listen?

That is literally my family in a nutshell. My dad just never wants to be in pictures. He’s probably good for a whole two. Then you add in my seven sets of aunts and uncles, grandparents, and over fifteen cousins… it’s a lot! (Stay tuned for my sister’s wedding in September for how those formals go!)

But my whole goal as your wedding photographer is to foster an experience that is as stress free as possible. And family formals should be no exception. So how do we make that possible?!

Read on for my top tips for making family portraits easier.

Have a set list – and stick to it.

During your pre-wedding consultation we will finalize this list and I will have on the day of. Every photo combination can take about 5 minutes for getting everyone set and take the photo. So the timeline can derail easily when Auntie Jill wants to add photos that aren’t on the list. Simply explain we have a set list and timeline to stick to, but we will absolutely take those photos during the reception! Keep in mind, following your family photos we still have to do your husband and wife portraits. So you definitely want to stay on time!

Let your family members know ahead of time

Let each person know if they are expected to be in the photos. I suggest telling them two weeks prior to the wedding. There is a lot going on the week of, so just to ease your stress, two weeks is better!

Choose a location for photos and communicate that with everyone.

Tell them at the same time that you tell them they will be in the photos! I also suggest having your planner or officiant announce the location of the portraits prior to the ceremony. When they are making other announcements simply add in “if you are requested to be in family photos after the ceremony, please meet at the altar” (or whatever location you have chosen with your photographer ahead of time).

Appoint a family member to collect stray family members.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what Grandpa Joe looks like, so I recommend appointing a family member to help corral anyone who ends up at cocktail hour by mistake. As a thank you for them helping, we’ll get a picture of you with them!

Choose the most important photos for this time to keep the photo list short.

Keep the list to the most important and any additional can wait until the reception. For most couples, this means immediate family, including grandparents. Going back to the whole five minutes per photo, ask yourselves if you really need your dad’s cousins on the formal list or can it wait until the reception.

Family formals can feel stressful just corralling quite a few people for pictures. These tips should help things go easier! During your pre-wedding consultation with your photographer, ask them what their plan is for family photos if you are particularly stressed out by this.

Don’t worry, they’ll turn out great! And go enjoy your reception!

Until next time, xoxo Nicole

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