• Caitlyn Weathers

5 Tips To Help You NAIL Family Formals On Your Wedding Day!

The family photos at your wedding may not be what you immediately think of when you imagine your wedding photography. But they're definitely an oh-so-important part of the day and you'll absolutely love having them to look back on! Family members come from near and far and everyone's dressed to look their best! So, there's really no better time than at a wedding to get photos with your loved ones when you all look ah-ma-zing.

Anyone can tell you, though, that these photos are not always the easiest to get through. Early in my career, the family photos used to be what got me really frazzled. Trying to corral a crew of hungry people isn't the easiest task. But, over time, I've figured out some tips and tricks to get this process to not only be easy and efficient, but also enjoyable! Keep reading for my top five tips on how to get the most out of family photos at your wedding!

1. Create a shot list with your photographer before the wedding day!

This is probably the most crucial thing to help family photos go smoothly. A wedding day is already hectic and you don't need the extra stress of remembering every photo you want on the spot. A list keeps things moving and ensures that you don't forget anything! One of the first things I learned as a wedding photographer is that having this list printed in my hand is a true Life. Saver. Making a list also creates the perfect opportunity to go over any special considerations for family photos. I always check to see if grandparents need to go first to avoid a lot of back and forth and up and down. And there are plenty of other considerations that your photographer may need to know about--such as a divorce in the family that needs to be handled gently or your favorite cousins who need a few extra photos as compared to other family members. If you tackle those needs early and give your photographer a heads up when you go over the list, it'll help avoid awkward moments the day of the wedding. :)

2. Get an expectation of how much time to allot for family formals.

Once you have your list, get a good idea from your photographer of how long this portion of the wedding day will take. A good estimate is about one minute per grouping. So, if your list has 20 groups, it should take about 20 minutes to get through family formals. Your photographer's specific work flow may differ slightly, so be sure to ask! :) This will help you know if you're able to add any groupings or if you should reevaluate your list to ensure there's plenty of time for everything else on your wedding day timeline!

3. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

As a guest, there's nothing like ending a ceremony and being ready to head over to the cocktail hour only to find out that you have to hang back another half hour for family photos with your wife's cousin. Being mindful that not everyone is going to be excited about taking photos (especially when hanger hits) will allow you to ease everyone's tension before it even rises. Delegate a few family members to ensure that everyone who will be part of family formals knows that they will be part of family formals. This is a small but significant step. And you can never be too thorough! Give the who, when, where and how long multiple times before the wedding day. And spread the word one final time the night of the rehearsal or the morning of the wedding.

4. Have a small appetizer tray for your family!

I'm back to talking about that hanger! Seriously, though, food really does make everything better. And this idea is a game changer. I've seen it in action and people love it! Ask your caterer to bring a portion of your cocktail hour appetizers over so family can snack while they wait their turn for pictures. There probably isn't an easier way to becoming everyone's hero than by providing a platter of cheese and crackers to your family! ;)


Isn't that always the last tip on these types of posts? It's true though! You don't have to worry if your cousin's husband isn't all in on taking pictures or if your niece is endlessly spinning in her flower girl dress instead of paying attention. Your photographer does this ALL the time. And it's more often than not that this part of the day is crazy. So, roll with it, trust your fantastic photographer and just be ready to flash that contagious "I JUST GOT MARRRRRIED" smile!


Overwhelmed at the idea of sitting down to prepare your family formal shot list? Then, girl, do I have great news for you! There are so many base lists online that you can use to jumpstart your own! My favorite is this cohesive list from Wedding Wire! Just paste it into your own document to add and subtract anything you want! A little bonus tip: go over your final list with your mom or another family member to ensure you don't accidentally leave anyone out!

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