Some of the most important photos on wedding day are the family photos. Pictures with your mom and dad and siblings, etc. But sometimes, one of the hardest parts of the day is getting everyone together at one time! After the ceremony is over and the reception is about to kick-off, the last thing people want to do is stand and smile, especially if they’re hot, hungry, and thirsty. I want to share 5 tips for organizing successful family photos so everyone can get back to the celebration!
It starts with you, the bride and groom. After you walk down the aisle as husband and wife — keep walking, run even… just kidding… but walk away and hide somewhere. Have those moments to yourself as the bridal party and the rest of the crowd shuffles by. If you stick around you’ll be tangled up in a web of hugs and never to be seen again… okay, okay, I’m being dramatic. Hugs are good, hugs are great, I LOVE HUGS — but when we only have 30 minutes to get through 20 groups of family photos – we have to move quickly – and getting caught up with every guest who wants a selfie with you can take a long time. I totally encourage all of the selfies you want … at the reception.
Prep everyone beforehand. Communicate with your family members so that everyone is on the same page and knows where they need to go after the ceremony is over. I’ve seen it a couple times where someone important has disappeared into cocktail hour or says they will “be right back” and is no where to be found! “Be right back” can mean 2 minutes or 10 minutes and we really don’t have that kind of time to toss away especially before the reception starts! Don’t let that happen to you! Let everyone know at rehearsal where to meet!
Look for the good light. I highly recommend taking family photos outside in beautiful, natural light. Sometimes you can’t always control the light in a church or the color of the walls or carpet… you get the idea so it’s nice to have a nice shady spot outside where you can have nice even lighting – I’ll help you with this! I look for some place in the shade and a place that doesn’t have too busy of a background.Send me a list. A list of groups is SUPER helpful for me when it comes time for family photos that way I can yell out (kindly) all members that need to be present! I start with a bigger group and then take away different sets of people so that the line runs smoothly. It’s a lot easier than mixing people in and out and getting confused. My typical starting point is as follows:
Bride’s side – large group photo (this is everyone: parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, cousins, uncles)
Bride’s side – parents, grandparents, siblings
Bride’s side – parents, siblings
Bride’s side – parents
Bride’s side – single photo with mom, single photo with dad
Bride’s side – siblings
Then we do that same order with the Groom’s side!
Example of starting with the groom with just his family and taking people out.
*If we have time, I’ll jump into extended family shots! This is where the list really come in handy! Let’s say for instance that you had a bunch of cousins, aunts, and uncles. Saying “The Smith Family” wouldn’t really help me with know who needs to be there. Get more specific with first names, i.e. “John, Katie, Stephanie, and Mike” is a lot more helpful!
**My job is to capture your day and all of the important people in it! You may think you can remember everyone who needs to be in there but I can assure you that when wedding day comes, your brain is going to be filled with so many emotions and thoughts that you might miss that photo you really wanted!
Let me know if there are any situations I need to know about. Example: If your parents are divorced, let me know! If everyone gets along, that’s great but I would never want to put anyone in an awkward situation if I didn’t know! A long long long long time ago, I was assisting at a wedding and the lead photographer nor I knew that the parents didn’t get along so when we were trying to arrange the family groups the mother stormed off! Please let me know if there are any situations like that so we can adjust!
Save other group shots for the reception. Sometimes we might be on a time crunch and only have time to get through the immediate family groups! This is when I recommend saving extended family groups or other friend groups until the reception. There is always time during the reception to let the DJ know that we need “all grads from the class of 2015” or “all your BFFs from high school” to the center of the dance floor!
[…] basic set-up for how I photograph family formals (I’ve mentioned it before in this blog post, HERE). Basically I start with either the bride or groom’s immediate family and save larger group […]