Family Portraits at Your Wedding

Though you may think family portraits at your wedding would be easy, that isn’t always true.

For most couples, this can be the most stressful and chaotic part of the day. Fear not, I have a plan to get family portraits at your wedding captured efficiently and effectively! 

Make a Family Portrait List

The first thing you want to do is make a list of all the people attending your wedding that you want to be in the photos. Then, about 4 months before your wedding, I’ll send you a template to fill out with the most common family groups. Add your family members’ names to the groups they belong in AND add any additional groupings. Feel free to add ones like “grandma and all her grandkids” or “lacrosse team” or others that feel special to you! (Pretty, pretty, please do not leave me guessing what guests should be included in family and friend formals.) 

Family portraits at wedding

Allow Enough Time

Once you have your list and all the possible combinations, we want to make sure to set aside enough time to get all the shots in. On average, the immediate family photos take 10 minutes per side.

I plan for 5 minutes per larger group to gather everyone (there’s always a cousin at the bar or a grandma in the bathroom) and then posing and capturing. If there does not seem to be enough time to get all of your combinations done in this allotted time, make a note of which groupings can be saved and taken on the dance floor at the reception.

Communicate With Everyone

Make sure you keep everyone in the loop for when and where they can expect to be needed. The last thing you want is for one uncle to have gone rogue when everyone else is already posed for a big group shot. Many couples find it helps to have the officiant give a friendly reminder at the beginning or end of your ceremony. They can say something like, “Family portraits will be captured after the ceremony is over. If you’re part of the couple’s family, please stick around until your names are called for photos!”

Big to Little

It is usually best to get the bigger group photos done and out of the way first. Then you can take formals with your older family members and friends since most often standing for too long can be a burden on them. Kids tend to be pretty fidgety, so they are also some of the first photos I like to get done as quickly as possible. Extended family members tend to go on the latter end of the timeline to ensure all your immediate family gets their time with you.

Gathering People 

Ask a bridesmaid, best man, or trusted friend to be in charge of rounding up everyone for the formal shots. You don’t want to be wasting your time checking the bathrooms or dance floor for everyone since this is the time we could be capturing other groups or couple portraits. Ensure that person has the list of people who are needed and let them handle getting everyone together.

Family portraits at wedding

Limit Other Cameras

Your friends and family taking pictures with their camera can be a distraction for everyone involved. During group photos, I will ask that guests allow me to capture the image first – with everyone looking at me – and then I give everyone a minute to snap the group shot with their cell phones or tablets! You don’t want your professional images to have half the group smiling off at another camera.

It can be a time suck when so many people want to step in to capture their own copy. You can help by asking one aunt (the one with the most excellent cellphone camera) to share the cellphone pics with the others! Also, remind your parents that they don’t need to live behind their cameras all day – I see way too many parents busy capturing images that they forget to soak it all in with their own eyes!

Family Portraits At Your Wedding Checklist 

  • Make a list with all of the various combinations you would like 
  • Allow enough time
  • Mark any combinations that can be taken at the reception instead
  • Let folks know ahead of time
  • Let the people in these pictures know when and where to be.
  • Ask the officiant to give a reminder.
  • Work from big groups to little.
  • Assign someone to help gather people.
  • Limit other people taking photos at the same time.

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