The family photos taken on your wedding day will be photos that you’ll hold near and dear to your heart as time passes. They offer both a record of the loved ones who came to help you celebrate and a great excuse to take professional photos to show off just how good looking your fam bam is! Whoot Whoot!
So making the process of actually capturing them an enjoyable one is important. You don’t want to look back at those photos and only remember how stressed you were. You want to remember how happy and thankful you were to have those people with you to celebrate.
Below are my top five tips for a stress-free formal family portrait time.
I mean, duh, right? But really. I always tell my couples beforehand that I allot about 30 minutes for family portraits, which gives me time to photograph 10 groupings well. When my clients have additional groupings beyond 10, I let them know that we need to build more time into the wedding timeline for this part of the day.
Tip: Keep it to immediate family only. Immediate family is considered parents, siblings, and grandparents. Of course, if your siblings have spouses or children, they would be included as well! If there is an extended family member or guest (such as a Godmother) that is very special to you, feel free to include a shot with them! For the rest of your extended family and friends, plan to snag some informal photos with them during the reception. The fewer people you include in your family portrait time, the less stressful that time will be!
Helpful Hint– You should also talk to your photographer about the style of the portraits. You should, at this point, have a pretty good idea of your photographer’s style, but, in my experience, sometimes the couple and the photographer are on different pages. Do you want relaxed, informal portraits where not everyone is necessarily looking at the camera and just acting naturally? Or do you want formal, more posed group portraits? A combination of both? Your choice can determine the amount of time involved. Wedding party photos in the style of an Annie Lebowitz Vogue cover shoot take a bit of time to set up and should be planned in advance to ensure no compromises have to be made due to time constraints.
One for each “side” of the new family! This is your wedding day, and you should absolutely not be the one hunting down Great Aunt Betty because she’s MIA and its family photo time. That’s someone else’s job. You need someone on point to help wrangle your family and any other guests for the portrait session. It’s your wedding day and you don’t want to be responsible for tracking – and, if you’re wearing a wedding dress, it will probably be pretty difficult for you to run around herding your guests.
Your family members may be involved in some aspects of planning the wedding, but they probably don’t have your wedding timeline memorized. Give them a specific time and place to show up — which should be at least 5 minutes BEFORE family portraits are scheduled to begin. If either of your families is notorious for running late, it is my recommendation that all family photos occur immediately after the ceremony. You might ask your photo wrangler to follow that up with a reminder text on the wedding day, to ensure that no one forgets.
Tip: Sit down together with your fiancé and make sure you’re on the same page! This is a conversation that some couples dismiss as irrelevant or common-sense, but it’s an important one to have! Every family is different, but some of the groupings we see most often are:
Helpful Hint– Use full names in the list you create. Don’t just put something like “Bride and her cousins” – this will help you determine exactly how many people are in the photo. It will also let your photographer know how many people and WHO they are exactly. They will need names.
Aunt Sue and Aunt Helen don’t talk to one another? Are their older family members who can’t stand up for a long period of time or walk to a, relatively, distant location on foot? Did you spend every Summer with your Uncle Joe and now rarely see each other, so a picture together is really important? As a photographer, I often get to know my clients pretty well by their wedding day, so sometimes they forget that I don’t ALSO know their families. This means that I don’t know if Grandpa has trouble standing and will need a chair for portraits. I don’t know if there have been divorces, deaths, or conflicts that might make some family groupings or poses awkwardly for the people involved. Your photographer will want to be sensitive and supportive in the way they pose your family, but they need information in order to do so.
The family portraits from your wedding day are going to be treasured not only by you, but also by the other members of your family. With some forethought and implementation of the tips above, they can also be fun and stress-free!
—————————> If you are engaged and planning your wedding, another way to reduce stress is to start thinking about the timeline of your day early on! If you would like to have a timeline to start from, click here to read “How to Plan a Photography-Based Wedding Day Timeline”!
I’m all about making sure your wedding day is joyful and enjoyable.
Your Boise based Wedding and Senior Photographer with BIG dreams! At the age of 23 I invested in my very first "pink-Sony" digital camera. Little did I know, that camera would ignite a passion for capturing the most precious seasons of life! If you're reading this, you've made it to the part of my online home where I show off TRP senior's and couples in their special seasons of life, as well as share helpful tips and resources to ensure you are well prepared for your special day!
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Tina Ricketts is a Wedding & Senior Portrait Photographer serving Boise, ID and Worldwide
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