These tips will help make your wedding day family portraits more enjoyable.

Raise your hand if family portraits are your FAVORITE part of the wedding day! ....anyone...??? We all WANT those photos and know how important it is to capture the moment that the whole family was gathered to celebrate together, but sometimes it's the least fun part of the day. Let me help you make this as painless as possible! Take a look at these quick tips:

1. Make a List

Who needs to be included in your family photos? Parents, Grandparents, Siblings of course.... what about Aunts, Uncles, Cousins? It's up to you! Make a list for the Bride's side and the Groom's side. You might also want to consult with the MOB and MOG on this one because they often have family groups in mind that they would like a photo of while everyone is together. It's much easier to know everyone's wishes and get the family portraits done in one go. If their plan is to "grab everyone for a quick photo during the reception" it doesn't always happen (at least not easily). Don't worry about putting them in any particular order just yet.

2. Create & order Your Groups

As I photographer I'm experienced in creating these lists or even running these family portrait sessions with little to no information; however, we're aiming for best-case scenario here so let's create a plan for the order & groupings! I typically start with whichever side (bride's or groom's) has the most small children, or if there is anyone who needs to leave for the reception venue quickly. If neither of these are issues then just pick one! Next I start with the largest group combination (extended family) for that side so I can release people as their photos are finished. I take into consideration elderly family members or anyone with a disability when I'm choosing who will need to step in & out for multiple groups so I can try to do those combinations at once and avoid the up & down of chairs or stairs. But overall the run-through it pretty straightforward.

It definitely helps your photographer & planner if you'll include family members' names in your list. It's easier to call for "Grandma Rose" or "Uncle Robert"

Use this as a guide, and customize or add your own:

  • Bride + Groom + Bride's Parents + Bride's Maternal Grandparents + Bride's Siblings (+ spouses/children)
  • Bride + Groom + Bride's Parents + Bride's Maternal Grandparents
  • Bride + Groom + Bride's Maternal Grandparents
  • (Repeat for Paternal Grandparents)
  • Bride + Groom + Bride's Parents + Bride's Siblings (+ spouses/children)
  • (Repeat with Step-Parents if applicable)
  • Bride + Groom + Bride's Siblings (with and/or without spouses)
  • Bride + Siblings
  • Bride + Bride's Father
  • Bride + Bride's Mother
  • Bride + Groom + Bride's Parents
  • Bride + Groom + Bride's Parents + Groom's Parents
  • (Repeat with Groom's side)

3. Communicate

Email this list to your photographer & planner, and be sure to inform the family members of the time & location of the formal portraits. Feel free to delegate this task- ask the mothers of the bride & groom, or a sibling, to let each of the family members know when & where they need to be.

4. Appoint Crowd Control

While the Photographer is directing the placement of the family & bridal party, sometimes the crowd can get noisy & distracted. Even a seasoned photographer can't always maintain control of the entire room without taking extra time from the photo session. Having someone step up and help can be a huge time-saver. If you suspect that you may have this issue (which isn't necessarily a bad thing- you're going to have a FUN reception party!) think of someone who can step up and help manage the group while they're waiting their turn for photos. Request that they try to keep the noise level down by politely asking lingering guests (non-family members) to move their conversations elsewhere. They can also help keep track of anyone who disappears for a bathroom break right before their name is called, or can tap the shoulder of a family member who needs to step up for a photo but perhaps didn't hear their name announced. The best person for this job is someone who knows most of the family members names & isn't afraid to speak up.

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About the Author

Nikki is an award-winning, published, certified professional photographer based in SE Michigan. She loves Jesus, traveling with her (hottie) husband and making memories with their 4 fun kiddos. Her weakness is European chocolates. Her passion is capturing the moments & details of your wedding day and delivering gorgeous photos that will last a lifetime. Click here to learn more about Nikki's wedding photography services.