wedding planning

How to make family formals go smoothly on your wedding day
+ sample family formals list

Our families are the heart of who we are. They are what we get up for each day. No matter the melting pot of personalities, opinions, and diverse ways of living our lives – Family Matter! There are occasions usually reunions, weddings and unfortunately funerals where the whole family get together. Family dynamics can sometimes can be tricky, especially when it comes to bringing the group together for family formals. Weddings should be filled with joy, love, and family. We are committed to ensuring you to have a stress-free experience when it comes to taking family formal photos. 

Family Formals wedding day tips and sample list

Be Prepared for Family Formals

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. There are so many things to plan and prepare for and it is all very exciting and exhausting. Remember to put family formal pictures on your wedding planning list. This will help you so much on the day to not miss out on any family member having their special time with you. Wedding Portraits are one of the essential parts of the day. I understand how this can bring some stress to the couple on their day. Everyone wants a picture, unsure who is next, where to stand, what to do with their hands. This can be overwhelming for some.

Family formals can be messy if they are not organized beforehand. I like to give this homework to couples that I have the honor to photograph because it will help the family formals go so much smoother. The assignment is a Family Formals list. No one wants to be looking at their wedding gallery and then realize they forgot to take pictures with someone they love and wanted to have a unique image.

As a professional photographer my job is to be always organized. So, once we start planning your special day, I will send you a family list to complete; this is my homework from me to you. 

Below is a sample family formals list that I provide for my couples:

Partner A’s Family

  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner A’s immediate family + grandparents
  • Partner A + Partner B with partner A’s grandparents
  • Partner A+ Partner B with partner A’s immediate family
  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner A’s parents
  • Partner A with Partner A’s parents
  • Partner A with mom
  • Partner A with dad
  • Partner A’s parents together
  • Partner A with grandmother/grandfather
  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner A’s siblings and sibling-in-laws
  • Partner A with siblings
  • Partner A with each sibling individually

Partner B’s Family

  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner B’s immediate family + grandparents
  • Partner A +Partner B with Partner B’s grandparents
  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner B’s immediate family
  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner B’s parents
  • Partner B with Partner B’s parents
  • Partner B with mom
  • Partner B with dad
  • Partner B’s parents together
  • Partner B with grandmother/grandfather
  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner B’s siblings and sibling-in-laws
  • Partner B with siblings
  • Partner B with each sibling individually

Partner A + Partner B’s Families Together

  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner A + Partner B’s immediate families + grandparents
  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner A + Partner B’s immediate families
  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner A’s parents + Partner B’s parents
  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner A’s siblings and Partner B’s siblings
  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner A’s siblings and Partner B’s siblings + sibling-in-laws

Additional combinations:

  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner A’s extended family (Partner A’s parents, Partner A’s siblings, Partner A’s grandparents, Partner A’s aunt(s), uncle(s), and cousins)
  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner B’s extended family (Partner B’s parents, Partner B’s siblings, Partner B’s grandparents, Partner B’s aunt(s), uncle(s), and cousins)
  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner A’s godparents
  • Partner A + Partner B with Partner B’s godparents

Having this list prepared will truly help so much on your very special wedding day. I have been to weddings where this has been overlooked to find someone was missed on the day and it is upsetting. If you are struggling to fill this out or get the job done, I’d love to help you through it, I’m here for you.

Below are 5 helpful tips to ensure a prepared and stress-free approach to family formals.  

1. Complete the list

Complete the list with the combinations you would like to have. Of course, you can use my list (sample list above) as a base and create your mixes. If there is a group picture, include the title of the group, for example, “Siblings” (Partner A + Partner B with name, name, name). Make sure to add names and relationships on the list; this would help me arrange them. 

2. When to take the pictures 

Take the immediate family pictures before the ceremony if you have a first look. Otherwise, I recommend taking the family pictures right after the ceremony. I know it’s usually a cocktail hour, but if everyone is in the same room, this list of images can be shot in 30/40 minutes. Some venues allow adding 30 min to the cocktail hour, so if cocktail hours are crucial for you, I recommend you make it one hour and a half long. Why do I recommend doing it after the ceremony? Everyone is in that exact location, and it would be faster than gathering everyone during the middle of cocktail hour.

3. Assign a helper

Let’s avoid dad shouting to your uncle or sister running around looking for mom. Having a helper would help you save time and make things move smoothly. It is helpful that this person (or people if you want to have someone represent each side) has the list of photos and knows everyone who needs to be in the photos. 

4. Communication

Ensure everyone involved knows where they need to be and at what time. If you have family pictures in a specific location, let them know the time to arrive.

5. Let your photographer know about any inner family situation they should avoid

Let me know about any situation in the family. I want to avoid any uncomfortable moments for your family. I’m very respectful and I don’t want to make someone stand somewhere they don’t feel comfortable. Don’t be embarrassed to talk to me or your photographer. 

Extra ideas! 

  • Have you lost someone very special to you? Bring framed pictures, and let’s include some group pictures. 
  • Create different picture combinations that are important for you. For example, friend groups from college can be considered family to you. 
  • Is your wedding location pet friendly? Make sure to have your pets as part of Family portraits
  • Hire your photographer for wedding dinner rehearsal for some extra family pictures

Looking for more wedding & elopement inspiration?

If you’re dreaming up your own wedding or elopement, check out more inspo below!

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