One of the most stressful parts of planning your timeline is figuring out your formal family photos and how to make the most of your very limited time after the ceremony. Lucky for you, we've done lots of weddings and can give you some of our most helpful tips to make this part of your wedding planning process a bit easier!
MAKE A DETAILED SHOT LIST
Normally, we don't need shot lists for a wedding day. You don't have to tell us to get a picture of you getting into your wedding dress or a photo of your groom seeing you for the first time - For us, that's a normal shot!
Formal family photos are a whole different ball game. Usually, we only know you and your fiancé on your wedding day! We don't know your Aunt Eleanor or your Cousin Jimmy (okay, I am obviously bad at making up names, lol). Since we don't know who these people are, we definitely need you to sit down before your wedding day and think about everyone you'd like to have in your formal photos.
But, we say all of that with a BIG *asterisk* on it. Why? Check out our second tip...
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Often, churches will tell the bride and groom that they have to be out of the church within an hour of the end of their ceremony (sometimes only a half hour!). This could leave you with VERY little time to get your family photos done. While we're quick at taking photos, we can't give you more time than your church will allow.
We recommend that you allocate 3-5 minutes per grouping in your photos. That means that in 30 minutes, you can have approximately 6-10 different groupings of family members. If you know that your family loves to chat with each other and you feel like they'll have a hard time staying focused on taking photos quickly, then I would aim closer to that 5 minute per photo grouping estimate. If you know that your family will be focused and quick to get in their spots, then you could probably follow the 3 minute guideline.
We always recommend to our brides and grooms to really try to focus on your immediate family first: parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. Figure out these groupings first, then estimate how much time you will have left after those photos are done. If you can fit more groupings into your time slot, then that's awesome!
But what if I can't fit everyone in and my family gets mad at me that they're not included in the formal family photos? Check out our next tip.
THINK "BIG" PICTURE!
So frequently we see couples that want to include nearly everyone in their family! That is so wonderful that you want to include so many people, and we love that you have such an amazing bond with your extended family. What we recommend in this case is that you get a BIG picture... If you want your cousins, aunts, uncles, and everyone in between, then start off your formal family photos with the biggest family picture ever! After we take the big picture, then you can tell the extended family that they can go to the reception while you take some more pictures with your immediate family. That way everybody is included, and you're not feeling stressed about each and every possible grouping.
We've seen our couples get so upset during their family photos because they feel so pressured to get them done quickly, and they feel like they won't get all the shots they want. We don't want anyone to feel like that on their wedding day!
And for our final tip...
"HIRE" A FAMILY ASSISTANT
No, we don't mean actually hire someone! But we do recommend that you designate one person from the bride's family and someone from the groom's family to help keep the formal photos moving on the wedding day. These two people combined should know everyone on your shot list. Most of the time, these people are siblings, close cousins, or aunts. They should have a physical copy of the shot list so they can cross off all of the groupings we've already done, and they can help identify anyone who might be missing.
We know that planning your formal family photos can be daunting, but we hope that these tips have helped you get a better idea of how to approach your family photos!