I’ll be honest – there are two photos from our wedding in our house and one of them a group photo of our family shortly after we were announced husband and wife. I simply love it! As a wedding photographer, I know that the formal wedding photos are the least creative part of the day and most photographers want to whizz through them super quick, but over the years I’ve developed a love for these photographs and the legacy they hold. Firstly, everyone looks better than they ever do in their Sunday best and let’s get real – just getting all your family members together in one place is a feat on its own so its important that you get a great photo of you all.
But how do you choose who is in the formal portraits? What about Aunt Joan that you haven’t seen since her son was married 5 years ago? Your cousins that were great friends when you were kids but now you’re adults, you don’t keep in touch? There can be a lot of people that your family wants in the photos but like everything else on a wedding day, you have a timeline to stick too and can’t spend an hour taking family photos. I get it and I am here to help!
I always recommend when my couples are narrowing down their list of who will be in the formal family photos, that they talk with their family about it. Having this conversation well in advance to your wedding allows you to express your needs to get the important photos and then move on AND allows your parents and grandparents the chance to be heard. While you may not see the importance of a “cousins” photo, it may turn out that the matriarch’s see it as a tradition in your family to have such a photo and sometimes its better to keep your Nonna happy. Doing this in advance means you aren’t surprised on the wedding day with requests and you and your photographer can also talk about it and discuss how your family formals might affect your on location portrait time and make contingency plans.
Now you have your master list, let’s narrow down those that can be taken at other times during the day rather than only after the ceremony. For example, a photo of a bride with her Dad might be able to be taken during the getting ready stages while a photo of you with your best friends from University might be better in the party atmosphere of the reception. Not all of the group photos have to be taken during that time after the ceremony but talk to your photographer beforehand so they are ready to capture exactly what you and your family want and at the appropriate time.
Traditionally the formal family portraits are taken after the ceremony. I love doing it at this time because everyone looks their best, the light is great and the party hasn’t officially started so everyone is happy and ready to take instructions to get to cocktail hour. On average, family portraits following the ceremony take 30 minutes and if time there is only this much time available for formal portraits, I always suggest keeping the list to your immediate and extended family and sticking with large groups instead of smaller groups because the more you have to move people in and out of photos, the more time it will take. Below is a typical list of family photos easily done within 30 minutes:
There may be other essentials such as breaking down grandparents to maternal and paternal grandparent photos but this ensures everyone gets in a photo.
This is a big one in my opinion. I luuuurve mothers of the Bride and the Groom and feel just awful when they feel they can’t request a photo because it might take up too much time when in reality its just one or two minutes. This day may be the first time in years that your Mum has seen her siblings or maybe she she really wants a photo with her own mother. I want my couples parents and family to know that they can request a photo at any time and either myself or my assistant will capture it for them. After all, that’s what I’m there for! You can have a great portrait taken at any time during the day.
I hope these tips help you. Now get wedding planning!