How to plan for stress-free wedding family photos in six easy steps!
Nobody likes trying to round up both sides of the family for obligatory wedding day photos. Especially when grandma is getting overheated, antsy kiddos just want to run around, and crying babies distract everyone from the camera lens. It can be time-consuming, and nobody is ever listening. Most people just want it to be over with already.
We hope these six steps will help the portraits fly by so you can get on with your special day!
WHO & WHAT
1.Help your photographer prepare
Getting the most out of this part of your wedding photoshoot begins with helping your photographer prepare beforehand. Give them a heads up with two lists. Create a master list of everyone to be included in the family portrait session, clearly outlining both sides of the family and who is partnered with who. Tell your photographer exactly what you expect by making a second family photo shot list of all the different combinations of people that you want photographed, from both sides. Indicate who will need to go first (babies & kids, elderly, individuals with health concerns) and organize your list so that it flows seamlessly by starting with smaller groups first, then adding more people as you go.
When photographers know how many people they’re working with and have a detailed plan to follow, the family portraits will run much smoother. Also, it won’t hurt to send an email to family ahead of time to let them know to stick around for photos after the ceremony.
2.Take advantage of post-ceremony movement
We recommend family photos just after the ceremony, before the reception starts. Everyone is gathered in the same place, they’re eager to stretch their legs or move around a bit, and are likely already on the move, exiting the ceremony venue. You can take advantage of using the officiant’s microphone (if possible) to direct family members to the photoshoot location after the bride and groom exit.
3.Pick a location
Decide together beforehand where you will gather everyone for family photos (instead of trying to round everyone up impromptu style). Share photographs or maps to your photographers if they aren’t familiar with the venue. Let them know whether any family members have mobility devices and/or need an accessible location (or an extra few minutes). The last thing you want is to ask family members to make their way over to a particular spot without realizing that it’ll be a challenge for some to get there.
Lighting always matters, especially in this case with bigger groups. In our experience, the ideal location will have natural light and a blank canvas backdrop (something neutral and solid, like grass or green bushes, rather than busy, like a flower garden). You’ll also want to consider that you have enough space for your family to gather and wait until they’re called in to be photographed.
4.Designate two friends to take the lead
In order to reduce stress on the big day, d-e-l-e-g-a-t-e. This means for family photos, you and your partner will each pick one go-to person from each side (preferably a friend or cousin who isn’t involved in the wedding party or family portrait session) that will take on the duty of working with the photographers. These two people should be familiar with faces and names and can help round people up so that you can power through those family photos and move on to better parts of your day 😉
Remember that master list of all family members you gave to the photographer? Send that list, along with the second list of the combinations of family members, to your designated point people. Ask them to print it off and carry it along on the day of the wedding so that they can work with the photographer, DJ, emcee, or wedding planner to make things run smoother. If possible, introduce your two helpers to the photographer(s) virtually before the wedding day so that they’re familiar with each other.
5.Use a microphone
The use of a microphone will be a game-changer. Ask the officiant/pastor to make an announcement after bride and groom exit the ceremony for immediate families to please head over to [designated location] for photos. Make a plan and direct your other guests to do something else or go somewhere else during the family photoshoot so that you don’t have a larger group than necessary hanging around.
Whether you use the officiant’s microphone or the DJ’s microphone (depending on the location of the family portraits), amplifying instructions will help keep people focused and on point. Also, things sound more “official” and people tend to listen better when someone uses a microphone. Ask your go-to helpers who have the lists to work with the wedding planner, DJ, or emcee to announce photo groups on a microphone. Connect your trusted helpers with the wedding planner, DJ, emcee, and photographers beforehand so they can collaborate on how to best orchestrate everything.
We recommend allowing two minutes per group, and five minutes for a larger group. If you have a wedding planner, communicate to them about the family photoshoot. They’re there to keep the flow and ensure everything stays on schedule. Ask them to also ensure there are chairs or bar stools handy at the photo location.