You know that family portraits are important for your wedding day. But, thinking about it is starting to stress you out. What photos do you want? What photos will your mother-in-law be disappointed that you missed? Will there be enough time? What if Grandma Julie forgets about pictures? And the list goes on.
But it does not have to be that way! Family photos can be easy breezy and stress-free, even on your wedding day. I promise. Here is how:
Family Shot List
Create a list ahead of time with your photographer of the family groupings you want. I always suggest that you only take the photos you would frame and put in your living room. (Or even that your mom would want to put in her living room.) Some examples of common family groupings would be:
- Couple with Immediate Family
- Couple with Grandparents
- Generation Picture (example: Bride, Mom, & Grandma)
- Couple with Parents
- Couple with Siblings
Limit the number of groupings that you give your photographer. I suggest no more then 8 – 10 medium to large family groupings. But always check with your photographer to see what they are comfortable with in the timeline for your wedding day.
Immediate Family Only
I know that your Aunt Sally and Uncle Nick are in from New York. And that you absolutely want to get a picture with them. But there will be time for that: at the reception.
Keep the family portraits to your immediate family only. Parents, siblings, grandparents, nieces, and nephews. This will ensure that your photographer gets all of the family pictures you will want to hang up in your house and that your face won’t get stuck from smiling for so long. (After all, you will be in all of the pictures!)
There is one caveat. If you have other family members who you are as close with, include them! Have an aunt that was like a second mother? Or god parents who have been to every birthday party? This is the perfect time to get a nice photo with them on your wedding day.
Time and Location of Photos
The best time to do the family photos is just before or just after the ceremony. If your family are type-a, always punctual people, before the ceremony is a great option. Though, the safer bet is after the ceremony, just in case anyone hits traffic on the way there. (Because, of course, they would never be late to your wedding otherwise.)
I suggest choosing a location that is near the ceremony site, so your family does not have to travel very far. Sometimes, this can even been the ceremony location! Work this out with your photographer the morning of your wedding and communicate it to your designated family wrangler.
Have someone who knows your family to collect them when it is time for family portraits. You may want to have two people: one for each of your families. The best people for this job is usually the maid of honor/best man or a sibling. This person will be responsible for making sure your family members are at the designated photo location on time.
Pro Tip: Give them a list of exactly who to bring. Otherwise they may think immediate family includes Uncle Bill from Utah that you have not seen since the 3rd grade.
Talk to your photographer about any family dynamics or considerations that may affect the family portraits. Let them know if your mom has a hard time walking. Then they can organize the photo grouping timeline to make sure she walks a little as possible. Let your photographer know if there has been any divorces and if those people are ok to take photos together. (If I can, I try and grab a photo of each set of parents together. This would be really embarrassing if your parent’s were divorced and I didn’t know!) Or maybe your sister-in-laws are not the biggest fans of each other. Whatever it is, let your photographer know so they can avoid any awkward situations or smiles in your family portraits.
Kids & Grandparents First!
If you are going to have young children or grandparents in your family portraits, take the photos with them first. I suggest starting with one large group family photo with both of you and both sides of your families. That way, you have at least one picture with all the kids and grandparents.
Then take any family groupings with the grandparent’s so they can go back to the cocktail hour and enjoy themselves. Take any other pictures including the kids directly after that. Then they can be kids and let off the energy from the skittles you bribed their perfect smiles with.
Family portraits are an important part of the wedding day. And if you communicate with and trust your photographer and use these tips, your family portraits can be easy, breezy and stress-free!