For Brides: 6 Steps to Successful Family Formals

This post is part of a series for brides (and grooms!) or for those who are helping someone plan a wedding. My goal for this series is to help you make informed and educated decisions about your wedding day so that it will be as beautiful as possible! If you're joining me for the first time, you can catch up here:

1. Should I Do an Engagement Session?
2. What Should I Wear for My Engagement Session?
3. Should I Do Bridal Portraits?

4. Making a Wedding Day Photography Timeline

5. How to Get Great Getting Ready Pictures
6. 6 Things Every Bride Should Get Ready for Her Photographer
7. Should We Do a First Look?
8. 5 Steps to Great Bride & Groom Portraits
9. How to Get Beautiful Ceremony Pictures
10. 6 Steps to Successful Family Formals

6 Steps to Successful Family Formals

Let's face it, taking family formals on your wedding day is usually stressful. There's a lot of people to manage and organize in a short period of time. Sometimes there's difficult family relationships or drama to think about and people are always ready to get to the reception. Family formals don't have to be stressful though! Here's 6 steps to successful family formals:

1. Send Your Photographer An Organized List with First Names
I usually try to accomplish all family formals after the ceremony in 20-30 minutes. 20-30 minutes should be enough time if you are organized! Sending your photographer an organized list of family portraits is essential to successful family formals. I always have my couples send me a list of all the family pictures they want before the wedding with first names. The reason why listing first names is important is because it's much easier and more personal to call out someone's first name than to say "grandparents of the bride on mothers side" and other complicated combinations. So, for example, on your list you would write: Bride and Groom with Brides Parents (Kevin and Brenda).

2. Simplify Your List as Much as Possible
Try and narrow your list down to as few groupings as possible. An example of a "grouping" is: Bride and Groom with Brides Parents (Kevin and Brenda). Within this grouping you can have more than one shot (e.g. Bride and Groom with Grooms parents, Bride and Groom with Brides Parents, etc.)  If you have a large extended family you want in your pictures and more than ten groupings, I recommend simplifying your list or taking some of the larger group shots during the reception to save more time for your romantic portraits.

6 Steps to Successful Family Formals

3. Tell Your Family About Pictures Beforehand
Make sure your family is aware that you will be taking pictures directly after the ceremony. Often this is assumed but after the ceremony people get caught up in the excitement and forget to stick around for pictures! I would also consider having the wedding officiant announce that the family needs to stay after the ceremony for family formals. Also, make sure that you begin taking your family formals immediately after the ceremony if possible. Once time goes by, people will begin to go their separate ways and they will be much harder to locate.

4. Make Your Photographer Aware of  Sensitive Family Situations
Make sure your photographer is aware of any sensitive family situations. I always ask my couples about this so I can be as aware as possible of any family issues that could arise. Make things as easy as you can on everyone by avoiding an awkward situation or embarrassing your photographer or family members.

5. Take Your Pictures at the Ceremony Venue
As we've discussed, you'll have very limited time to get your family formals. It is most ideal to take your family formals at or outside of your ceremony venue. One other important thing to consider is the lighting for your pictures. Your pictures will look best if you either take them outside or take them in a room with a lot of windows and natural light.

6. Designate a Person to Help the Photographer
I have found it helpful when my couples designate someone to help me locate everyone for family formals. Ideally, this would be a person that knows many of the family members and can easily find people. It is difficult to play the role of photographer and coordinator and so it's very helpful to have someone gathering people as the photographer takes the pictures. 

6 Steps to Successful Family Formals

If you found this post helpful or interesting please share it and/or leave your thoughts or feedback in the comments section below! Check back next Wednesday and I'll be sharing my next post in the "For Brides" series on how to get beautiful reception pictures!