If you’ve spent any amount of time perusing blogs and looking at wedding photos, there’s one whole segment you’ll likely rarely see posted: family photos! Family photos aren’t typically discussed among wedding photographers because often it’s not the fun, sexy, creative side of the job! I love family photos for a few different reasons. First, they’re important. It’s been eleven years since my husband and I got married. In that time, four people in our families, who were in our formal family photos, have passed away. Those photos are now that much more important to us. Secondly, it’s hard to get everyone dressed up and together in one location! Not only that, at least one of the people in the photo is typically the one taking the photo (I’m looking at you, moms)! Family photos are a great way to get a nice, classic portrait of all the people who are important to you on your wedding day.
That said, this can also be a stressful time of the day. I always council my couples on carefully selecting their groupings. The rule of thumb is the larger the grouping, the more likely that people will wander off, get called away to help with something else, or just forget when the time comes (it happens!). I typically shoot family formals one of two different times during the day:
- Before the ceremony (if there’s a first look)
- After the ceremony (without a first look)
My grouping suggestions are always grandparents, parents, and siblings. Then I will break those groupings down into smaller groups, such as bride and groom with bride’s grandparents, bride and groom with bride’s immediate family, bride and groom with bride’s parents. I also like to get images of the just the bride with her immediate family, and of course images of the bride with her parents. Once I’m done with the bride’s side, I move onto the groom’s side for all the exact same groupings. I also love getting an image of the bride’s parents and the groom’s parents. Most of my your families have worked so hard help you have the wedding of their dreams, and it’s great to get some pictures of them too! Although family photos might be considered “boring” there’s actually some skill that takes in setting them up! This is where hiring a great wedding photographer will be an asset to you on your wedding day. By gathering all the family formal information ahead of time from my couples, this really helps this part of the day run much more smoothly. Below are the groupings I typically run through for each side of the family. If you have groupings with college friends, extended family, etc., I always recommend you gather these groups during the reception. This is even more important if you’re not having a first look, since time is limited during cocktail hour and I always like to plan on having the bulk of that time for bride and groom portraits! Below is my general list, which I then repeat for the groom’s side. As you can see, even with just immediate family + grandparents, there are 13 images to set up and take! If everyone is present, I can get through this list in 10-15 minutes. However it’s always best to plan for the unexpected on your wedding day! It’s best to set aside at least half an hour for family formals.
Bride + groom + bride’s grandparents
Bride + groom + bride’s grandparents, parents, siblings
Bride + groom + bride’s parents + siblings
Bride + groom + bride’s parents
Bride + groom + bride’s siblings
Bride + bride’s grandparents
Bride + bride’s grandparents, parents, siblings
Bride + bride’s parents + siblings
Bride + bride’s siblings
Bride + bride’s parents
Bride + bride’s mom
Bride + bride’s dad
As much as I love the creative shots of the day, I know these are the images that will likely be framed in my couples’ parents’ homes, and I love that! Being a wedding photographer isn’t just about taking images for the couples I work with – it’s about celebrating their family, and these images are one of the best ways to do so!
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