Family photos are one of the most important parts of the wedding day. These are the people who have been there for you (the bride and groom) for years. Yet more often than not, it seems like the wedding family formals can be a bit rushed and a little chaotic (at times!) on a wedding day. Any former brides will 100% attest to this. For some reason, this part of the day tends to bring out a stressed bride + groom.
Confession: I had a moment during our family photos at our wedding. I remember rolling my eyes because everyone wasn’t paying attention and mumbling under my breathe “now I know why my brides hate family photos.” Yikes! Not my proudest moment, but brides-to-be, it happens!
So rather than have you get cranky with those you love the most, use these tips to go into family photos with a smile on your face.
Here are FIVE tips to help make the process of taking wedding family photos stress-free
1. Create a photo list + share it with your photographer
This list should include all the possible combinations and the name and relation of each person in the photo. This helps to know that you have every combination you want and it helps to stop your mother-in-law from requesting combinations when you are short on time. Work with your other half and your parents to build the photo list weeks in advance of your wedding day. Instead of writing bride with mom, brother and sister, create your list like this : bride (Bianca) with mom (Kathy), brother (Mike) and sister (Laura). This way, your photographer or photo helper can use the names of your family to get their attention. The list also helps the group know what we still need to get so that when Uncle Bob is asking if he can go to cocktail hour or the flower girls need to use the bathroom, we will know we got all the photos we need your VIPs for before they go MIA.
Not sure where the heck to start? Check out my complete list of all the wedding family photo combinations you could dream of on your wedding day.
2. Choose an outdoor photo location when possible
Natural light photographers (like us) have a love affair with light. While love photographing at gorgeous churches, we find that getting outside and capturing family photos outdoors always makes for the best photos. After all, you are planning a beautiful outdoor location for your bride and groom photos and your wedding party photos, so why wouldn’t you take your family photos somewhere just as stunning.
If you are getting married at a church, we can certainly take a handful inside so you have some, but we typically recommend outdoor family photos whenever possible — even if it is just a handful.
3. Give your family members the wedding schedule
If your family knows when and where they need to be, it will help alleviate some stress and keep the day running on schedule. I suggest sending an email the week of the wedding to all the VIPs with the timeline. It doesn’t hurt to remind them at the rehearsal that they are needed for photographs either before or after the ceremony (depending on your schedule) too. Otherwise, your Aunt Barb might run off to grab a cocktail, and we will either decide to take the photo without her or we will have to wait for someone to find her … only taking away from time for other photos.
4. Assign a photo wrangler for your wedding family photos
Rounding up the troops for family photos can be overwhelming and it is the last thing we want you doing on your wedding day, so rather than having your mom shout for grandma or your brother run around looking for your sister, assign a friend or family member to corral everyone who is needed for photos. It is helpful that this person (or people if you want to have someone represent each side) has the list of photos and knows everyone who needs to be in the photos. It will make the photos go so much faster, and your photographer will love you for it!
5. Act like you actually like each other and have FUN!
This is YOUR family! Squeeze in nice and close. And when you think you are close enough, get one step closer. Give hugs and kisses. Even if it just for a moment. Because these moments end up as the best photos … even better than the one where everyone is smiling and looking at the camera. And they show that you are a loving family … and isn’t that what you are about?!
Looking for more wedding planning advice?
First time to the blog? Hi, I am Brittany, and I am a fine art film photographer specializing in lifestyle wedding and family photography. I travel worldwide photographing beautiful weddings, engagements, and families, and most of the time you can find me in Chicago, Naples (Southwest Florida), and Las Vegas. My light and airy editing style and candid, joyful photos are what I am best known for. Interested in working together? Contact the studio for more information.