Family Wedding Photos | How to plan your wedding formal group photos 

Every wedding I photograph has an element of formal family group photography. The family formals may seem like an easy and quick part of the wedding day. Often, when you are working with larger groups of people things can quickly become confusing, complicated and stressful.

Why formal photographs when I am a Documentary wedding photographer?

  • Parents usually want to have a formal photograph of you, the bride and groom, with them so that they can display the picture in their home.
  • Some relatives/guests may have travelled from abroad. They may have invested in a special outfit for the wedding and would love to have a photograph with the bride and groom.

Below are some tips to keep these photos organised:

On the day of the wedding, I allow 30 minutes for the formal group photos. The success of family formals on the wedding day is in the planning.

Have a list and keep it short: Knowing what groupings you want and knowing the time needed for those groupings before the wedding day is an excellent place to start. On average, each grouping takes about 2-3 minutes to gather and photograph. Use first names on the list, “not Brides Cousin”, “Brides aunt” etc. Let people on the list know they’re on the list before the wedding.

Have a Loud helper: I am not going to know most people on the list. Choose someone who knows the people on the list to help out. While it helps to have everyone’s names on the lists, sometimes they might be distracted talking and by having someone point them out helps speed things forward.

Decide on the Location: It is essential that you decide in advance where you’d like your family formals to be done. If you are not sure, then allow me to choose a suitable spot with this nicely lit and distraction free.

Lastly, Keep it Organised: Order the list into the groom’s side and the bride’s side to help keep the photo groupings organised.  And typically I like to have grandparents first on the list, so they’re not standing around for too long waiting.

I realise that formal family photos are not as fun as the candid shots throughout the day. I hope these tips will help you organise your list of family formals. It’s nice to go through these essential shots as quickly as possible, so people don’t stand around being bored.

How to plan for your wedding family group photos

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