How to Make Formal Family Photos Quick and Painless on Wedding Day

The formal family photos portion of a wedding day is rarely anyone’s favorite memory of the day, but it often results in photos that mean the most to the most amount of people. If you have an extended family that is not all together that often, weddings are a perfect time to update family photos because everyone is there and everyone is looking good. So here are some tips for maximizing the number of quality photos you get during this time while minimizing the annoyance everyone feels about doing these photos.

  • First, consider whether or not you are going to do a first look. If you are, then a lot of family portraits can be taken before the ceremony so you don’t have to be away from guests at the reception. If you’re not doing a first look, joint family portraits will have to be after the ceremony, and that’s perfectly okay! Just pay extra attention to these next steps to make photos go quickly.
  • Give your photographer a list of EVERY SINGLE COMBINATION of photos you want before the wedding day. Be specific with names of everyone so whoever is in charge of the list can call out names to get people’s attention.
  • Ideally, you should organize the list of every combination in a way that makes sense for your family, meaning you are starting with a base, adding to it with more extended members, and then moving on to the next base, adding extended members, etc. Or if you need to organize based on getting toddlers done first before they lost interest, or grandparents done first before they run out of steam, do what makes the most sense for your family.
  • Assign a cousin/niece/nephew/attendant who KNOWS most of the family members on the above list who can round everyone up and get them in the queue for photos. Again, listing people by name helps with this.
  • Let your photographer know if there are any considerations for extended family that would affect family portraits, such as avoiding stairs for a physical limitation, family dynamics that influence who is posed next to whom, or being mindful of nap times for younger relatives.
  • Let everyone who is included on the list of family photos know BEFORE the wedding when the photos will take place, where they will take place, and where they should go when (i.e. don’t go grab a drink during the cocktail hour if you want them to be taking photos at that time.) Be specific and direct about places and times to reduce the chance that there’s confusion or misunderstanding or someone who just wanders off.

Whether or not you choose to go with a first look, you can prepare for formal family portraits in a way that makes them run smoothly for everyone. And if you have additional concerns or considerations, PLEASE talk to your photographer about them in advance so that you can work together to address your concerns.

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