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How to Take Better Family Formals

Tips for Better Family Pictures At Your Wedding

A lot of people don’t know how to take better family formals. And since the COVID-19 pandemic has taken place, I’ve been working on the back end of my business, fine-tuning workflows and tightening up processes.

One of the things I’ve been wanting to tighten up for a while is the Bride and Groom Information Sheet that my AWESOME couples fill out before their wedding.

The information sheet helps me create a customized timeline for their wedding day because everything they put inside that sheet is like precious insight for me. I know what’s important to them, and what’s not so important.

How to Take Better Family Formals

Over the years I’ve learned that family pictures are important to nearly everyone, yet no one really knows how to make them work well.

Here’s your guide to Family Formals:

Q: What are family formals?
A: Family formals are those pictures that are sometimes indoors, sometimes outdoors and they look staged. Everyone is smiling nicely at the camera and the group is ‘still’.

Q: How can we “Rock”them??
A: Well, THIS is the specialized part. You see, weddings happen FAST. So fast, in fact, that a lot of times time escapes people and suddenly the schedule is running behind. (learn how to avoid this stress!)

Most weddings run behind schedule in two places:
1. Hair and makeup
2. Family Formals

There is nothing more annoying for guests than when pictures take forEVER and dinner is behind.
(Not at MY weddings!!!!) How do I regularly avoid getting behind schedule?

I’m organized!! Although I don’t have much control over Hair and Makeup, I have a ton of control over family formals.

Here’s my secret to staying on schedule.

  • Stay Organized!! And have someone from each side (bride’s side and groom’s side) be the representative who is IN CHARGE of family portraits.
    • Start with the LARGEST family grouping first, and then peel people off in layers.
    • The familial representative is the person in your family who knows how to take charge (in a friendly way!) and who doesn’t take anyone’s junk.
      • There’s nothing worse than Uncle Chip taking off to the bar, and NO ONE can find him, so the entire family portraits are on hold. For One. Person.
        (Guess whose Bride and Groom newlywed portrait time is going to suffer?? Totally not cool.)

For example- Bride’s Side:

The couple’s photographer knows who this family representative is and she has a printed family portrait list ready to hand her.

Bride’s family representative has already called everyone to touch base and let them know they’re supposed to SIT DOWN after the ceremony, hang out, and not head to cocktail hour until after portraits are done.

Bride’s representative is standing next to the photographer, with a family portrait list in hand, calling off people’s names. If the photographer needs help organizing people, she helps. And the photographer (and bride and groom) are FOREVER in debt to her.

Here’s the list she calls up, and here’s how she and the photographer peel people off in layers.

  1. Everyone (Parents, step-parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, cousins, uncles, god parents)
  2. Immediate (parents, step-parents, grandparents, siblings)
  3. Close (parents, siblings)
  4. Parents
  5. Siblings

Boom! Done. That’s a HUGE grouping, and 4 other groupings completed without people shuffling in and shuffling back out of the photo. (Seriously, y’all!! This happens!! People willy-nilly write in family member’s names, and since photographers and coordinators have no idea who is who, they struggle creating an efficient list.

One Last Tip…

Q: How do I get beautiful, natural light for family pictures?
A: You go outside! And while the photographer wants to hear your most desired place for family portraits, you ultimately let them decide since they know how to recognize good light.

Check it out:

Epic background behind these folks?? NO. Just a bunch of trees.

Why does it look so good? (the light, yo!)

Tori and Ben let me choose where we did family portraits, and now they have awesome family pictures.

Always, with love.


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