Why stress on your wedding day?! Sure wrangling everyone for wedding photos with family can be hard. But it doesn’t have to be!
Below are a few tips to help family photo time run smoothly. These tips (and our free planning guide) will help you power through all your groupings and make it quick, easy, and hopefully stress-free!
1. Talk to BOTH sides of the family.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been at a wedding where mom starts asking for every grouping possible. Talking to your relatives beforehand eliminates the stress of trying to squeeze in “just one more photo”.
Setting those expectations beforehand helps you plan enough time to get all these photos done. You can help by making sure both families have input in the images they want taken during family portrait time. This helps everyone feel included.
2. Keep your groupings simple.
Moving people in and out of photos can get tough (and time consuming). Keep your groupings simple to help minimize the amount of dead time spent standing around waiting for their photo.
If you want an individual photo with each of your aunts, or cousins, or long-lost whoever the reception is a great place to take those without spending a lot of time during formals. We have HOURS to use while you’re enjoying the party and you can always grab me for a quick snap. By keeping the formal photos limited to immediate family, you can move through them quickly and not get annoyed by everyone being distracted.
We can also use the getting ready time to take your individual photos. If you have a first look with Dad, you’ll already have a one-on-one photo with him and won’t need to take up more time during formals with that. Same thing goes for any siblings in the wedding party.
*Tip 2.1 – Only include married or long-time relationships in your photos. If your siblings, or cousins, etc have short term or new relationships leave them for the reception candid times. These photos mean a lot to your family and become muddled in the future if people are no longer around.
3. Work from big to small.
This is MY personal preference. I like to get everyone up there at once with you and get it over with. That way your more distant relatives can head to cocktail hour and they’re not waiting around for their moment.
For example, I have 32+ aunts, uncles and cousins on my dad’s side of the family. I know I want to have a photo with them all! They’d be up first. Before the wedding day I’d tell them to stay seated at the ceremony site. Once family photos start we’d say “Mazza family you’re up, let’s pile in close!” Once that photo is snapped all those folks can head to cocktail hour and enjoy. Then we can focus on multiple groupings of your immediate family.
4. Be specific.
Creating a list of your wedding photos with family is SO important. At the end of this blog you can download a guide to help you create your list!
One thing I ALWAYS ask is about family dynamics, divorces, deaths, the list goes on… it is helpful for me to know so I can navigate the relationships with empathy. Shmoozing parents is part of the job and its important for me to walk into your day prepared to make everyone feel good! If your parents are divorced or remarried, there is always a spot for you to write that. If you want a photo with your biological mom and dad, and everyone gets along, let’s do it. You know your family best!
This is also an opportunity to let me into your life. For example, I probably won’t have any grandparents present when it’s finally time for my wedding day. I just cried writing that sentence. I know when the day comes it will be a very hard thing to process. But I know I will need to share that information so that on my wedding day my photographer doesn’t say “okay Arielle’s grandparents can come on up.” That just sounds so hard doesn’t it?!
Feel GOOD about who your family is and celebrate them in the ways YOU want to. And I’ll do my best to help keep the emotions in check while we get all of your wedding photos with family.
5. Choose an open space.
Often we will use the ceremony spot as the space for photos. It’s traditional and usually has enough space to accommodate everyone. If you get married in a church, we can either set up lights or move everyone outside. We usually make this call depending on the lighting inside and the size of your biggest group. We want to make sure there’s enough room so we can see everyone’s faces!
Wherever we end up, we make sure to accommodate any slow moving or disabled relatives to make sure they are accessible and comfortable.
If you need help building a map of your own family portraits, download Arielle Images’ Family Formal Planning Guide to help you plan your groupings. This is a free preview of what I send to my couples to help you along your journey!
I hope these tips have helped take the fear out of family portraits. I believe these 5 tips will help you make wedding photos with family seamless, less stressful and a wonderfully calm experience on your wedding day.