Ahh, family wedding photos. It’s a time during wedding day that can either go super smooth or terribly wrong, and it all depends on proper planning.
Planning this portion of your wedding day can get overwhelming, and let’s face it – neither you nor your guests want these formal photos to take forever. In this article, I’ll give you my best tips so you can plan your formal portrait hour that runs as quickly & smoothly as possible.
I get that it can be hard to decide exactly who you should include in your group portraits. Know that the more people you include, the more hectic and time-consuming family and group portraits can become.
The first thing when deciding who to include in your family portraits is to consider your venue’s time limit on portraits. Some venues (mainly cathedrals and other places of worship) place a limit on how much time you will have for photos after your ceremony. Even if your venue doesn’t have a limit, a time-cap is a good thing to think about – you don’t want to spend a ton of your reception time taking photos!
In general, I recommend keeping it to your VIPs. For most couples, that looks like parents, siblings, grandparents, BFFs, and/or anyone who is super special and has had a big impact on your life.
For all of my clients, I send a questionnaire during the planning process & ask them to list out which family members and groupings they’d like photos with.
Sitting down to make a list before the day-of helps make everyone’s lives less stressful and easier on wedding day in a few ways…
A good rule of thumb is to allot 3 minutes per grouping. Usually, lists have 10-15 groupings and take about 35-45 minutes.
During family portrait hour, your photographer will be busy taking the photos and organizing the group so they look great. The best way to keep things running quick & smooth is to put a friend in charge of organizing the on-deck groups! Even better if that friend knows your family members who will be in the photos. This person can help organize those on-deck, so groups can switch out easily and quickly.
The time you take family portraits will depend on other events happening during your wedding day. Traditional wedding days without a first look means most family and group photos will happen after the ceremony. Couples that choose to have a first look before the ceremony have a bit more flexibility and can also do family portraits before the ceremony.
In my 6 years of photographing weddings, I’ve found that couples tend to enjoy the flexibility having a first look gives them. If you’re looking for more info on first looks and their benefits, you can read about them HERE.
One note about doing family photos before the ceremony – make sure everyone who is included in group photos knows what time they need to be completely ready and where they need to meet for portraits. If you’re not exactly sure where you’ll be having your portrait hour just yet, designate a meeting place with everyone meeting there. Trust me on this one… having everyone ready to be photographed makes for a much smoother, easier process.
This is one your photographer will absolutely love you for. It isn’t uncommon for guests to want to take photos on their phones of the different groupings…. but it can confuse people on which camera to look at, which ends up slowing down the entire process and you run the risk of having formals with some individuals not looking at the photographer’s camera. Bummer!
The people who are important to you deserve to be included in your wedding day story. Here is a list of must-have wedding photos that includes family and/or other special people in your life.