Guide to Family Formals

I love meeting all the family members on your wedding day! But this part of the day can get out of hand and can take longer than needed if there isn’t a game plan. I will send you an email two months before the wedding with a questionnaire that allows you to list out all the family formals you want captured. That way on the big day, we have a list of who’s next and we can take it one portrait at a time! I like to go through family formals quickly so we have more time for romantic portraits.  Most couples don’t know where to begin when it comes to family formals so here are some tips and tricks when making your list.

  1. Limit your groupings to no more than 15
  • Limit your groups to immediate parents, grandparents, and siblings. If we try to go through all the extended family members, we will lose light and won’t have enough time for your glowy romantic sunset portraits. Don’t worry about missing a photo with any family members. We have PLENTY of time to capture those at the reception! 
  1. Include names!
  • A month before your wedding, I send out my couples a bride and groom questionnaire. There’s a section on there that lets you list out your family formal list. If you include names, this makes a WORLD of difference when I’m setting up groupings. I can call out names and once someone hears their name, they’re much more attentive! 
  1. Inform family members
  • In order to make this part of the day move quickly and efficiently, it is super important that you touch base with family members and let them know that they are going to be in the photos. Trust me there is nothing worse than having multiple family members missing because they didn’t know they had to stick around after the ceremony. The more time we spend looking for family members means the less time for your portraits! Make sure you let everyone know a couple days before the wedding. You can send them a quick email or group text telling them not to disappear after the ceremony! This will save a TON of time!
  1. Sticky Situations
  • I understand that each family dynamic is different and I completely respect that. I also get that there might be certain relationships that may be rocky between certain members. The last thing we want is to put two people next to each other in a photo who might not be on the best terms with one another. If this is the case, make sure you mention this on your questionnaire. We can create a custom timeline so we can make sure it goes very quickly and smoothly. 

As long as every family member is informed and everyone is where they need to be… family formals can take less than 20 minutes! 

Here is a common sample list that will help you start planning!

 -B&G with Brides immediate family (parents, siblings)

-B&G with brides parents

-B&G with Brides siblings

-Bride with her parents

– Bride with Mom / Bride with Dad

-B&G with brides grandparents

-B&G with both sets of parents

-B&G with grooms immediate family (parents, siblings)

-B&G with grooms parents

-B&G with groom’s siblings

-Groom with his parents

-Groom with mom / Groom with dad

-B&G with grooms grandparents

*This list is my standard list and what I use for every wedding. These are the most common groupings and all others we can make sure to capture at the reception! 

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