How to Smoothly Get Through Family Formals

Family formals are often described as the most stressful part of a wedding day, but today I’m here to tell you they don’t have to be!! With some planning and a little effort, it’s totally possible to make this part of your day a breeze. Read on for my best tips for family portraits!!


1.       Have a discussion ahead of time on which photo combinations are important to you and your family. If you can, keep your family formal list SMALL. Many couples opt to only include parents, siblings and grandparents into family formals, but of course everyone is different. The idea is to keep portraits quick and fun. Plus, you can always squeeze in a few more photo combinations later in the evening at your reception!

2.       Make a detailed list for your photographer. I always ask for this from my couples because it saves so much time on your wedding day! Include not only names, but titles (ex. Ron - bride’s dad), and a full list of each combination you’re wanting photographed. Also be sure to note any divorces, deaths or other sensitive family situations that your photographer should be aware of. 

3.       Let family members know ahead of time if they’ll be in photos and when. This is probably the most important step! If you’re doing a first look, is family needed right afterward? Are they to stay at the church after the ceremony? They key here is to be very clear on who’s needed and what time photos are scheduled for! I can’t tell you how many times Grandma has disappeared to cocktail hour, not knowing she was required for family photos.

4.       Give yourself enough time. When putting together your wedding day timeline, I suggest at least 30 minutes for family formals. This way you won’t be stressed or crunched to get in all the combinations you’re hoping for!

5.       Delegate one person from each side of the family to “corral” when needed. This point person is NOT in family formals, but knows everyone who is. Think of your most enthusiastic friends/family members, the reliable ones who get stuff done. Your photographer will talk as loudly as they can, but having another set of eyes and ears on the group is so helpful in making sure no one is missed.

To sum it up, plan as much as you can beforehand and rest assured in knowing you hired an amazing photographer who’s got this! Things will work out no matter what and you'll end up with images you LOVE!