Family Portraits on Your Wedding Day

It is crunch time for one of my brides.  We are in the final few weeks before her wedding and we are hard at work planning the details.  This is something I love to do with my brides!!  It helps me to get to know her even better and I love offering little nuggets of wisdom that I’ve learned from shooting weddings over the last 5 years.

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First of all let me look at that last sentence.  Specifically the last few words!  Holy cow!  It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that I was swearing I would never shoot a wedding and here I am 5 years in to LOVING weddings!!!  Seriously, I love them!  I love the predictable unpredictability.  Ha!  For reals though. 😉

Ok, back to the topic.

Family Portraits or Family Formals, is what I usually call them.

These can be fun, quick, and painless.  Yay!

They can also be the worst part of your day.  Does that scare you?

It does me as the photographer!!  I don’t want you or your family leaving this wedding saying that they hated any part of the day.  And wow was that photographer a pain making us stay in the hot, cluttered, tiny space to get one picture.  ugh.  What a clusterf***!  Or how much longer do we have to stay for this?

I could go on with some of the things I’ve heard, and to be completely forthcoming, I’ve even thought some…I know, bad Juls!  But I have to say that since I also do second shooting with a lot of other photographers, I see a lot of family formals.  Some are awesome.  Some are ok.  And some are a nightmare.  This is how I have learned what to do.  And though I may not have this down to a science, I am on my way!

Are you ready?

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Ok!  Here we go!

  1. Make a list. Grab a sheet of paper.  Draw a line down the center on the first one.  On one side write bride or you know, your name.  Then on the other side write groom, or your fiancé’s name.  Now go down each side with the following: parents, grandparents, siblings, any other important family you want to be sure is included in the formals.  Want to score bonus points? Be sure to include their full names so that I can say more than mom of bride, etc.  Sounds simple right?  If you are my bride, just hand it over to me.  I will take it and whip together a shot list for your to review. <3
  2. Send a note.  Yes, I really want you to do this.  It takes a bit of extra time and can seem a little silly, but do it.  It will make these special people FEEL special…AND now they can’t say they didn’t know you wanted them there for the family formals….trust me, this happens more often than you might think and then they leave, feelings are hurt, people are angry.  It isn’t pretty.  It is worth the extra time.  Make sure you do this a few weeks before the wedding.
  3. Assign.  Now is the time to get that organized/bossy family member to help out.  Grab one from your family and one from the groom’s family and ask them to coordinate with the photographer.  They will be in charge of getting the groups together and should know the family well.  They will be a big part of keeping the flow running smooth, so choose wisely!
  4. Remind.  Remind.  Remind!  Wedding days can be hectic and people often forget the details about when the need to be certain places.  Speak with your officiant and have them make an announcement at the end of the ceremony for family members involved in the formal portraits to hang close and wait for instructions from the photographer.
  5. Refreshments.  This is especially important for those hot days.  Bottles of water will make your guests/special family members much more comfortable and less likely to complain about how long the portraits are taking.
  6. Have fun.  Easier said than done, eh?  These photos are going to be something that you look back on in 10, 20, 40 years.  They’re important.  So relax.  Giggle about your sister tripping on the carpet on her way up to take photos.  Kiss your mom.  When you look at these photos you will want to remember how great it felt to be with your loved ones.

And that’s it!  You can do this!!

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