Stay Calm, Make a List. | How to Plan for Wedding Day Family Portraits

Planning for Family Portraits on your Wedding Day

Let's talk portraits.  You have invited your closest family and friends to your wedding and it is important to document that they were there by your side.  As a wedding photographer, I used to get stressed out about shooting family portraits, as did many of my Brides and Grooms.  But then I took a new approached and started looking at them not as a mandatory part of the photo-taking process but as a fun way to celebrate the couple and the love  and relationships the family may have for one another.  One day some of those people may not be around anymore, and so often I get emails from past couples thanking me for taking the time to photograph their now passed loved ones, as often those are the only recent photos they have of them. 

I thought I would share some tips to help the portrait time of your day running smoothly and quickly. 

1. Always photograph groupings with small children first. Especially if the weather is not ideal, or its meal or nap time. 

2. Start with the largest groupings of family and work your way backward to the smaller groups. Once someone is done, they can leave and not have to wait around to be in another photo later. 

3. Designate someone to bring some food or snacks and water to the photo location to keep people happy and fed. "Hangry" guests make for some less than ideal photo sessions! 

4. Trust your photographer to choose a location for images based on the light of the day. To be honest, in most family group shots, the background is often not the focal point, but the people are. 

5. If you have people with mobility issues, try to shoot the images including those people at a reasonable walking distance, or do those photographs at a later time when it is less busy and they can have easier access to the couple. 

6. Not everyone does this, but my personal favourite family image is one that includes both sides of the immediate family.  Bride and Groom with both sets of parents and siblings and their families. This is literally the ONLY wedding portrait we have hanging up in our house because it shows the merging of two families and includes everyone! 

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7. Consider doing a First Look and photographing all the posed portraits before the Ceremony. Then guests can enjoy mingling and eating right away and not have to worry about gathering for photographs. 

8. Give them Time!  If your portrait sessions is set to begin at 2pm, tell the guests needed for photos to arrive at 145. 

9. If your portraits will be taken at a different location than the wedding, consider renting a bus or shuttle to transport all the guests needed for photos to the designated location, that way they all arrive safely and on time. 

10. And lastly, HAVE FUN! Family portraits do not need to be boring or long or stuffy looking. If your family is fun and goofy, act fun and goofy! If you love adventure, do something adventurous! Your photographer will likely capture a few "smile at the camera" safe shots, and then after, laugh and have fun for some more shots. Mostly likely those will be the ones you love the most! 

Just Have Fun! 

Just Have Fun!