Ohhhhh family pictures… Timing after the ceremony, kids, corralling everyone, venue restraints, not to mention family drama. (How do you make sure people don’t feel left out?!) I get it, and you’re in good company. This is important because Family Portrait Time tends to suck away from Bride and Groom portraits when you’re with an inexperienced photographer. (And no one wants that!) You want to know how to do family pictures at your wedding. I got you.
Q- I have a big family. How do I incorporate everyone?
A: Easy! I start my groupings with the biggest (to include everyone) and I peel away people from there.
People tend to wander, especially when there are cocktails and hors d’oeuvres waiting. Starting with the largest group gives us an opportunity to grab people before they wander. And even for the most frequent flyers (lookin’ at you, Uncle Bob!) who just won’t stay put: at least you got that one shot at the beginning before he scrambled away to the bar. 🙂
How to do Family Pictures at Your Wedding
Q- My parents are divorced… What do I do?
Answer: No biggie! I ask my couples before their wedding, when we’re planning family groupings, if there are any issues I should know about. Most of the time, adults who are divorced can set aside their personal qualms for a special event.
When we have a divorce in the family, we will put the bride and groom in the middle- with mom on one side, and dad on the other. No one has to touch each other, and it’s a very safe pose that won’t offend any potential new spouses.
So that everyone feels included, we will do a pose with mom, dad, and spouses first. Then we’ll peel away spouses and do a shot with just mom and dad.
Q- We’re on a really tight timeline… How do I make all the shots happen??
A: Strategically! I try to keep my family groupings after the ceremony to around 10-12 or so. In extreme situations we’ve done 20 or more groupings, but typically it’s about half that.
Group people you want included together into other shots. Do you *need* individual photos of each of your cousins? Probably not. And if you do, chat with me so we can strategically plan for that!
Q- Can I get any family shots before my ceremony?
Answer: Sometimes!! But probably only the most intimate ones, and you might not even want to do that! Let me explain…
Chances are you want photos of your parents, grandparents, siblings, and your wedding party. Those are the most important photos to you!
In the beginning of the day, these people will be scattered. Mom probably won’t be with dad and your siblings are likely split between wedding parties. People will be scattered everywhere; we’ll be waiting for them at the beginning of the day (no doubt). But after the ceremony they’ll all be in one place, so it’s a no-brainer.
How to do Family Pictures at Your Wedding
Also- Think about your album. If you want to include Family Photos in your wedding album, I think the photos should be aesthetically similar. If you get shots with your parents and grandparents outside the front of the ceremony space, and then shots with everyone else at the altar- those first photos will look out of place. You’ll likely think it’s best for all the family pictures to be taken in one spot, with similar lighting, and a consistent background.
Q- Okay, this is making sense. Can you tell me what a sample list would look like?
A: Sure! Here’s how we do it:
- Group 1: Both sides- Everyone!
- Bride and groom’s parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts & uncles, cousins
- Group 2: Just Bride’s Everyone
- Bride’s parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts & uncles, cousins
- Group 3: Bride’s Immediate
- Bride’s parents, grandparents, siblings
- Group 4: Bride’s Close
- Bride’s parents, siblings
- Group 5: Bride’s parents
- (Just a shot with the bride’s parents alone– because they deserve it!)
- Group 6: Just Groom’s Everyone
- Groom’s parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts & uncles, cousins
- Group 7: Groom’s Immediate
- Groom’s parents, grandparents, siblings
- Group 8: Groom’s Close
- Groom’s parents, siblings
- Group 9: Groom’s parents
- (Just a shot with the Groom’s parents alone– because they deserve it!)
After this, we send everyone to the cocktail hour and just focus on the Wedding Party. After the wedding party, we send them to the cocktail hour and focus on Bride and Groom portraits. 🙂
QUICK TIPS FOR SUCCESS: How to do Family Pictures at Your Wedding
- TIP! Deligate someone to Text EVERYONE who will be in your family photos so they know to stick around after the ceremony instead of going straight to cocktail hour! You won’t have time to send people to look for Uncle Bob, and you know as well as I do that he’s going to hit the ground running after the ceremony ends.
- If you have more than 10-12 groupings, plan for those to happen at the reception
- Think: step-family, extended family, work friends, college friends, etc.
- Plan if you want to go for “Symmetry” or “Sides” for your photos so that I immediately know how to group your family.
- If “symmetry”, we will place people on either side of the bride and groom, focusing on balance.
- If “sides”, we will keep the groom’s family on his side, and the bride’s family on hers, NOT focusing on balance.
I hope this helps!