Having a list of family photos that you want your wedding photographer to capture on your special day is CRUCIAL! About two months before the wedding date, I send all of my couples a questionnaire so I can ensure that I’m as prepared as possible when it comes to family photo time. Arriving to your wedding day with this list comes with more than just the perk of organization though.
Some couples have very large families in attendance for their wedding. And that’s awesome! Chaotic sometimes, but still awesome. My family is spread out all over the United States. I was so grateful for those family members that spent both their time and money to travel. The absolute LAST thing I wanted to do was end up not getting a picture with one of them! I would’ve felt so bad if they started scrolling through my wedding photos only to realize that I didn’t get a photo with them. Oopsie!
The best way to prevent this from happening is to make a list of the family photos that you want your photographer to capture. Now, you have to remember, if you have a guest list of 50+ people, you can’t possibly get a photo with every single friend and family member INDIVIDUALLY during Family Formal time. You’ll end up losing out on sunset portraits, food, and reception time. Groupings are key to making sure you can fit everyone in!
After the ceremony is complete is when you will typically get most of your family/guest photos taken since most people weren’t at your venue way beforehand. If you chose NOT to have a First Look, you’ll have slightly more photos to knock out than if you chose to have a First Look earlier in the day. The majority of the time, these family photos take place outside. Natural light tends to be more flattering overall for people. Also, outdoor spaces provide more room for groups to maneuver around each other.
If you are having a summer or winter wedding, most of your guests won’t want to be outside for long periods of time due to harsher temperatures (and that dreaded humidity!). If you have family members that are older, they may have trouble standing for more than a few minutes at a time. Most young children get antsy waiting around for their turn to stand next to you and can start to lose their patience. You don’t want them to be crying or frustrated when it comes to photo time. And the one thing that every guest has in common? Food! After the ceremony they know it’s time to eat. The longer you keep them for family photos, the longer they have to wait to devour your carefully chosen menu. Having a family photo list ready to go helps speed up the process!
Well, this one is a no-brainer, right? The more efficient you are during Family Formal time, the more photos you can capture of everyone. Imagine this: the ceremony is over and the officiant asks that everyone meet out front for photos. Everyone congregates outside together (how big is your guest list again?) and you are trying to shout out people’s names to the group while they’re standing there chatting with each other and can’t even hear you over everyone else. It takes 5 minutes to get everyone’s attention that is needed for the photo, move them into position, get a full body and close-up photo,… and you still have 9 groupings left to do. AND you just realized you left your cousins out of the group and want to take that photo over again.
That means it could take close to an hour to get all the photos you want of your family! Whew.
The alternative? Have your list ready to go. Your photographer and their assistant (or a few family members) will go down the list and get everyone gathered. When the photographer is taking that photo, their awesome helper will start gathering the next group. This takes the amount of time needed to capture a photo from 5 minutes down to 1 minute, sometimes even less! You’ll end up with 10 photos in about a 10-15 minute block of time instead of 10 photos in a 60-minute block of time.
At this wedding, we went from traditional family photos to…
…super fun Bridal Party photos to DONE in 11 minutes!
Did you accidentally leave a group off the list? Have a family member requesting a photo of just the two of you? Well, you had 30-minutes set aside for family photos and you’ve still got 15 minutes left. Bring it on! Oh, and since you didn’t take an hour with family photos you didn’t have to sacrifice your Husband & Wife sunset portraits! So now you’ll go home with more photos of just you and your sweetheart together with that beautiful glowy light. And my favorite: you got to spend some more alone time together. Win!
Please believe me when I say that having a Family Photos List is a win-win-win (I feel like it really deserves another “win”...) situation!
Looking for some more wedding planning tips? Check out the Client Education portion of my blog!
Need a quick template to use for those Traditional Family Groupings? There’s a great one HERE!
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Tucson, Arizona.
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