Weddings are a special occasion for more reasons than you’d think. With how busy our lives are it's rare for entire families to get together. So when they do all get together it is important to get everyone in a family photo.
Family photos traditionally happen immediately following the ceremony. Some couples take family photos before the ceremony starts if they decide to do a first look, and others wait until after dinner. That's more common in the summer months when the sun is out later.
Whatever you decide is right for your wedding you will need to compile a list of family photos you want your wedding photographer to take.
Here's what I like to have my couples do. I call this my "wedding planning homework":
Sit down together, and put together a full list of all of the family combinations that you might want.
Rather than stressing about what you're supposed to do, think about the photos that you might actually want in an album or framed on your walls. Who are the people you want to remember being there when you show your wedding photos to your kids in 30 years? Most couples have 5-10 groups, plus a few more casual groups at the reception later. You can absolutely plan for more or less, but make sure that you leave time.
Send the list to your parents to make sure that you haven't missed any combinations.
There might be photos that they want for their own homes that you hadn't thought about. Just make sure the list doesn't get so long that this will take over a huge chunk of your wedding day. Again, a max of ten groupings is ideal.
Put the list in order.
I like to start with the largest groups so that they can leave first and clear the area out, but sometimes it makes sense to prioritize grandparents and who will have a hard time standing or need extra help or children who will have short attention spans. It's also helpful to note who is "finished" after each grouping so the person calling names can tell them that they're all set to go.
Assume that groups will take an average of five minutes each
It only takes a few seconds to take the photos once everything is set up, but it can take a few minutes to get everyone in place, especially large groups. Smaller groups can usually jump in and out within two minutes or so, but I always leave a buffer in case things run long or we can't find someone who we need (it does happen).
Share the list with everyone who is on it, and let them know where they need to be and when.
You can email out the master list to everyone ahead of time, then print out copies to pass out to family members so they know when to be ready.
Find your "Person”
Identify the person who is the loudest and/or knows the most people. This person will get a copy of the photo list to help corral the groups since your photographer most likely does not know your Uncle Jim from Aunt Sally.
Here is an example list
B+G w/ Brides immediate and extended family (Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins)
B+G w/ Brides immediate family
B+G w/ Brides Parents together then One with mom, one with Dad
B+G w/ Brides siblings
Then the same list would apply to the groom with any changes that don’t apply, possibly without siblings ect.
Things to keep in mind:
If your parents are divorced, don't feel pressure to put them in a group photo together. Again, if you wouldn't frame it, don't feel like you have to take it. This is really a personal decision.
Think about special occasions that you might want photos for in the future. Don't forget a photo with just you and your siblings that you can give to your mom on her birthday (or post on national siblings day, because Facebook just told me that that's a thing). The same goes for photos with just you and each parent individually. These can make simple gifts for Mother's Day/Father's Day.
The sooner this is done, the better as it can take a bit of time to compile.
See More: Complete Wedding Planning Guide!
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