Planning out family portraits many times become an afterthought for most couples, which is exactly why I ask everyone to list out which 10 family groupings are most important to them several weeks out. This part of the day can sometimes get stressful attempting to coordinate several people, but I know for certain that these images will be contenders for my couples to frame and put on their walls. Because they have such a high amount of “framability” – a word I made up and think of often, I aim to make sure we get all of the important family photos with the least amount of stress on wedding days!
I try to make this process as simple as possible by sending out a Honeybook Questionnaire with a checklist of different options.
Here is the general checklist I always send out:
- Bride and groom with Bride’s Grandparents
- Bride and groom with Bride’s Grandparents, Parents, and siblings
- Bride and groom with Bride’s Parents
- Bride and groom with Bride’s Parents and Siblings
- Bride and groom with Bride’s Siblings
- Bride and groom with Groom’s Grandparents
- Bride and groom with Groom’s Grandparents, Parents, and Siblings
- Bride and groom with Groom’s Parents
- Bride and groom with Groom’s Parents and Siblings
- Bride and groom with Groom’s Siblings
I also provide another line to write out any family groups of high importance that aren’t already listed.
This eases a lot of the stress for couples to think through who they’d like photographed – that list is pretty comprehensive! It also prompts everyone to know beforehand who needs to “stay after the ceremony” for portraits.
Here are a few helpful tips:
- One of the MOST important ways to allow this part of the day to flow nicely is to assign someone to fetch all of your family members. The reason why Family Formals may take 20 – 30 minutes is mainly because one or two people have already made their way to cocktail hour and need to be found. If everyone is present and ready for Family Portraits, there is no need for it to take longer than 20 minutes!
- Something I recommend but never force is to have family members come outside the ceremony space to take photos in natural light if possible. Family formals traditionally are at the altar of the church, but the natural light allows a more beautifully lit portrait!
- Another wonderful tip for Family Portraits is wait until the reception to take large family photos. At my own wedding, my husband had 22 first cousins and 16 aunts and uncles – can you imagine that many people staying at the church to take portraits? We ended up having everyone come to the dance floor right before open dancing, which gave us a large enough space for the photo, and got people dancing quickly! (You don’t need to convince my husbands Arabic fam to start dancing, though).