I think the ABSOLUTE most stressful part of the wedding day is when it’s time for formal family portraits. The entire rest of the day flows so much better in my mind. Chaos always happens when it’s time for the family formals. Murphy’s Law.
It generally takes about three minutes to gather, arrange, inspect, pose and capture each group pose—and that’s if no one is using the bathroom, gone for a drink, or having a conversation with someone oblivious that we are waiting on them. If you multiply 15 formal arrangements by the three minutes it’s going to take to capture each one, 45 minutes post-ceremony will be needed. I like to educate my bride and grooms to be super selective when choosing the arrangements they will want captured.
I give my couples a worksheet to complete. This way they have a visual list of what they may want and I have a definitive list of family images to capture on the wedding day. The worksheet lists different combinations starting with a small group (bride, groom, officiant), working our way to the largest group (bride, groom and their entire family), and then back down the a small group (bride, groom, groom’s parents). This really is the most efficient way to capture these images AND it allows the bride’s parents and family to get to cocktail hour to mingle with the guests sooner.
Formal Family Portraits on Wedding Day
What can you do to make family formals flow as smoothly as possible?
- A few weeks prior to wedding day, notify everyone who will be needed for family formals. This might include the wedding party and officiant.
- Remind anyone who is at the rehearsal that the formal portraits will immediately follow the ceremony.
- Have the officiant or wedding planner announce that formals will take place immediately following the ceremony. Remind the guests who is needed, ie. parents, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, grandparents, etc.
- Designate a staging place out of the view of the other wedding guests to gather while the ceremony room is being emptied. Otherwise, people will stop and talk to you and the groom, and the room will never empty.
- Ask your wedding planner or maid-of-honor to help corral people to the staging area.
- Do not let anyone else take pictures during family formals. Other cameras are very distracting. People will inevitably look at the wrong camera.
- And lastly, remember that the formal portraits don’t have to be all that formal. Have fun!
Having family formals flow nicely ensures that you get to the reception as soon as possible. If you have an outdoor ceremony, it may also mean you’ll have sufficient lighting for the portraits. Lastly, it may mean that no one becomes stressed or agitated and puts a damper on your special day.
**Some of the images contained in this post were shot under the direction and for assignment of CAKE Photography, owned by Jill Jansen of San Antonio, Texas. The images are copyrighted by CAKE Photography but are used herein with permission.
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I am San Antonio’s most unique wedding photographer. I specialize in a 10-day image delivery, same-day prints, same-day slideshows, Italian handcrafted wedding albums and I have a mobile meeting space.
I am a full-time, internationally-awarded and WPPI-C certified professional wedding photographer based in South Texas near San Antonio. I offer a premier and personal service coupled with an unforgettable photography experience. I cater to clients who appreciate quality photography and help them to create family heirlooms that will last for generations.
I started Ata-Girl Photography Co., LLC in 2010. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. I enjoy documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I love being a part of people’s journey and consider myself privileged to document their legacies.
When I’m not photographing a wedding, I love to spend my spare time hiking, camping, cycling, reading, listening to Elvis and Prince. The most important things in life are for me to see my two daughters happy and to create a family history my grandparents and grandson would be proud of!
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