Organizing Family Formal Photos | Wedding Quick Tips

Family Formal photos on wedding day

Family formal photos are one of the key points in any wedding day

While I’m typically known and hired for my more creative style of shots that may garner some attention – the images I get the most orders for (generally speaking) are the family formal photos. When I was just a rookie photog, this was puzzling bordering on insulting!  I’d spend time and creative brain power on an epic lighting setup under crazy cool skies at sunset only to find that several different family formal shots were in higher demand by family.

But sitting at my in-laws house one afternoon it all made sense – their walls and shelves were decorated sharply with my own wedding photos, nearly all of which were the family formals.  Those are the photos that we wanted as well.  It’s not about the creative sizzle, it’s about nice, clean shots of our loved ones. And when you think about it, it’s rare that so many loved ones are all together at once making these photos memorable and cherished.

How to organize family photos at wedding

Making the family photo session run smooth

Family formal photos are typically done right after the ceremony.  It’s the time where everyone is readily available, before anyone wanders off to the bar, back to their rooms etc.

Leading up to the wedding day I ask my couples for a specific list of family members they’d like included in this session.  Typically it’s reserved for parents, grandparents and siblings however the family formals can really include anyone they’d like – just remember that the longer the list, the longer the time required for that part of the day.

A few tips when creating your list, sort the list into bride’s side and groom’s side to help keep the photo groupings organized.  And typically I like to have grandparents first on the list so they’re not standing around for too long waiting. The same goes for young children. For example, your list can look something like this…

Wedding Day Family pictures

Wedding day family pictures is one of the most important moments.

With this very specific list I can have someone from your group (who knows everyone on the list) or my assistant herding the different groupings like cattle on the side while we’re shooting.  This saves an enormous amount of time and takes the pressure off you to remember which photos we’ve taken, who you want in the photos, and tracking down those VIPs when needed.  Your feet and your family will appreciate how smoothly the process runs and moreso – how quickly they can get off to the bar!

Family formal photos are a huge part of your wedding day, this quick wedding planning tip will go a long way to helping things run smooth. Best wishes for an incredible wedding day and if you have any questions don’t be shy!


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