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How to Ace Your Family Portraits

September 25, 2019

bride with her dad at joshua tree wedding

When it comes to family portraits this is probably the point in the day that can be the most stressful and frustrating. Everyone wants a picture and it is literally like a machine: People stand next to you, snap a photo, okay next group. My job is to make this process as easy and painless as possible for you, me, and your family! Besides this is usually before husband and wife portraits so the more efficient we are with these photos the more time you have for your photos and you might even be able to join cocktail hour!

So here’s what I do to help make this portion of your wedding day a breeze.

First off if you aren’t quite sure what family portraits consist of here you go. It is pretty simple. These are posed photographs (one of the only moments you will be completely posed) of the bride and groom surrounded by different family members from each side of the family. The groupings are completely up to you, but I do have my go-to groupings. About a month before your wedding I work with you to make sure we have the best and most efficient groupings for you. One important rule I have is that this is for immediate family. That means, parents, siblings, and grandparents. (Of course if you are very close to a certain member they are welcome to be in the photographs as well.) I do this because if it becomes a free for all you will have cousins and aunts and uncles all waiting around to take that photo. A simple process can then turn into a long drawn out process that cuts into your bride and groom portraits.

But you want a bunch of family photos you say? Do not fret at all because during the reception we can always take more if needed. Or we can make more wiggle room in the timeline to accommodate more people. (this could require extending cocktail hour or if you do a first look we would just move everything up)

Having the questionnaire/ template from you will allow me and my second or your coordinator to also call out the family groupings. This makes it run much smoother and everyone knows where they need to be at a certain time.

It is also important that the family members know where they need to be and at what time for portraits. This way we are not waiting on anyone.

A lot of couples confide in me that they’re nervous about the family photos because it involves wrangling so much family. Trust me I get it!!! Escpecially if mom wants a bunch of different groupings. But here’s the thing. This is your day and I am here to help wrangle everyone!

When I have a prepared list it runs much smoother. My second and I or the coordinator will usually list off the names of each person. We can also have a “Helper” from each side of the family get everyone ready to go.

Hopefully that all makes sense! This can be a crazy, confusing, complicated part of the day and that is why it’s so important to plan ahead of time for it! Making sure your planner and photographer have that list of must have family groups is key to making it all go smoothly.

The goal is to get this done in 30 minutes or less.

Remember: It may feel like the longest 30 minutes of your wedding day…but this is a small portion of the day that you’ll be so grateful you did years from now! Just remember to smile and stay positive! And let your photographer be the one to keep things in check!

family portraits at Indian Cove Amphitheater Wedding

family portraits at Indian Cove Amphitheater Wedding


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