5 Tips Every Bride Should Know About Wedding Party and Family Portraits
On your wedding day, it’s important to plan ahead and anticipate and divert any stressful situations so that you can remain calm, in the moment and blissful throughout the entire day. In our experience working with couples, planning the family and wedding party portrait list can be a source of great stress. But guess what? With a little planning and strategizing beforehand, your wedding party and family portraits can be an effortless and seamless experience. Here are some of our tips for planning and organizing these important portraits:
1. To First Look or Not To First Look
Couples have a hard decision to make in taking the traditional path of waiting to see each other until the ceremony or doing a first look. Your instinct may be to choose waiting til ceremony, but before deciding, ask yourself this question: “Do I want to attend my cocktail hour?” If the answer is yes, then it’s time to rethink a first look. Waiting to see each other until the ceremony means that you will need to wait til cocktail hour to complete the majority of your wedding party and family portraits because it’s the first time post-ceremony you and your new husband or wife will be together in the same space. So if you have an hour’s worth of wedding party and family portraits and your cocktail hour is an hour….BOOM, no cocktail hour for you. Some couples don’t care much to attend the cocktail hour while others feel very strongly about wanting to hang with their friends and family and relax after saying the big I Dos. There is no right or wrong answer and it’s your decision to make, but it will directly affect your photography schedule, so choose wisely!
2. Be Selective
When it comes time to strike a pose with your family and wedding party, think about the size of your portrait shot list and remember that less is more. You don’t want to burn out on taking photos before the party even starts, so be selective in how many portraits you ask your photographers to shoot. What are the few gems you would put into an album? Limit your list to about 1 hour’s worth for your families and wedding party if possible (about 15-20 groupings). We’re fans of big group portraits like this one. The following list is a suggestion of what we think are the most important formal groupings:
– Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents
– Bride and Groom with Groom’s Parents
– Bride and Groom with both sets of Parents
– Bride and Groom with Bride’s full immediate family
– Bride and Groom with Groom’s full immediate family
– Bride and Groom with complete wedding party
Here’s a good rule of thumb: each grouping will take approximately 3-5 minutes to complete. The list above would take approximately 18-30 minutes to organize and shoot. When you’re making your list, add it up and consider how much time you are willing and able to budget on your big day.
3. Create An Organized List For your Photographer
Create an organized list for your photographer to reference on wedding day. Remember, your photog will likely not know anyone in your family or wedding party, so having a list of names that they can call out will be most helpful in keeping the process moving. Here’s a suggestion we picked up from a photography team many years ago: organize each grouping with everyone’s names and the complete number of people in each group.
1. Bride and Groom with Bride’s immediate family – Mom’s name, Dad’s name, Sister’s name, Brother’s name – 6 people
2.Bride and Groom with Bride’s extended family – Mom’s name, Dad’s name, Sister’s name, Brother’s name, Grandmother’s name, Uncle’s name, Aunt’s name. — 9 people
If there are any family sensitivities we should know about, include that in your list to the photographer and your wedding planner. They can help to diffuse the tension and make sure that you don’t have any challenging family dynamics to manage and distract from your big day.
4. Designate a Photography Captain
It often helps if you can allocate one family member or member of the wedding party who knows everybody to help gather the groupings of people together. They can be your “photography captain” so to speak, and work together with the photographer to make sure everyone is exactly where they need to be.
5. The Whole Fam Damily
We know it’s important to include all of the members of the family in photos. But with immediate family and extended family, your group of people can grow to 30, 40, 50 people in no time. Have you ever tried to get 50 people to do the same thing at the same time? Have you ever herded cats? Yeah, it’s like that. Think strategically about the best way and time to tackle those extended family photos. Do you want to ask all of your aunts, uncles and cousins to arrive 1 hour or 2 before the ceremony to tackle those shots or does it make more sense to grab them during cocktail hour when they would be together in the space anyway? We are big proponents of keeping the pre-ceremony photos to immediate family and doing the larger group shots with extended family during cocktail hour. Trust us us on this one, y’all.
These are some of our tried and true suggestions for nailing the wedding party and family portrait portion of your wedding day. Be sure to follow along on our Instagram to see more of our tips and tricks!