If I’m being honest, taking family formal portraits may not be the most fun part of your day, but I promise you will cherish these portraits for years and years and they are SO important to capture while everyone is together in one place on your special day!
Family formals don’t have to be chaos! If you prepare for them, they can be simple and sweet! My goal as a wedding photographer is to make them as painless and easy as possible for my couples and their families so they can go enjoy the rest of cocktail hour with their guests or we can capture some sweet just married portraits!
1. Be Proactive; Make a List
Because I am so passionate about making this as easy for you as possible, I have devoted an entire page in my bridal guide with tips on how to create your family formal list! I provide my couples with a sample list so they can easily use it as a guide. I have them send their list to me weeks prior to the wedding so they don’t have to worry about it! You no longer have to worry about if you forgot Aunt Suzy on the list!
2. Keep it Simple + Intentional
I encourage you both to write out your must-haves for each side of the family and then see how many combinations you have. Take that first draft of your list and go through it again. It can be easy to get carried away when you’re creating your list. Think about how much time you want to dedicate to family formals. I typically delegate 20-30 minutes of the wedding day timeline to photograph these.
Think about the combinations that mean the most to you. I suggest staying between 10-15 different groupings.
3. Prepare Your Family Ahead of Time
As soon as you have your list of family members organized, let those people know that on the wedding day, they will need to stick around right after the ceremony for family formals. Otherwise, they will wander off to cocktail hour and it’s very difficult to find them among the wedding guests.
4. Delegate a Helper!
This can be your wedding planner/coordinator, a member of your bridal party, or a family friend. I’ve always found it helpful when that person knows many of the family members so they can easily help us gather them and set them up! (I’ve found that outgoing + outspoken bridesmaids are always GREAT at helping get it done!) 😉 Although a helper is not necessary, I’ve found it to be very helpful in getting them done even faster.
I always bring multiple copies of my couple’s family formal lists, so my assistant and I can have one to call out the names, the helper can have one to know who to look for, and an extra for backup.
Here’s to quick and stress-free family formals! (PS- your family will LOVE you even more for this!) 😉
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