Family Formal Picture List: Where To Start | Joel and Amber Photography

Family Formal Picture List: Where To Start


Mar 7, 2019

Wedding Planning Tips // Family Formals // Wedding Photographers Huntsville, Alabama

Family formal portraits feel pretty straight-forward…until the bride sits down to think about the details. That’s when the questions start rolling in! Who is included in family formals? Do I need to come up with a list for my photographer? Where do I start?

Today we’re giving you our tips for planning out your family formal portrait time!

You’ll get access to our go-to list for family formals, learn how to get everyone in the right place at the right time, and how to communicate with your photographer about her system for family portraits.

Our Go-To Family Formal List

Over the years, we’ve developed a family formal list that includes the most requested family combinations. We also created an order that keeps things moving as quickly and smoothly as possible. The least amount of moving people around, the better!

We start with extended family whenever we can. The larger the group, the harder it is to get everyone’s attention and coordinate people! After finishing up with extended family, they can go relax before the ceremony or head to the reception. With just the immediate family present after that, the atmosphere is quiet and laid back. Family formals can be fun!

Every photographer will have a different system, but here is our go-to family formal list! If you need to create your own list, this will be a great starting point for you. It’s tried and true!

{Note: B stands for Bride, G is for Groom, and B/G is both Bride and Groom together in the picture.}

B/G with Bride’s Mom extended family
B/G with Groom’s Dad extended family
B/G with B grandparents
B/G with Groom’s Mom’s extended family
B/G with Groom’s Dad’s extended family
B/G with G grandparents

B with B Mom 
B with B parents 
B with B Dad 
B/G with B parents 
B/G with B parents and siblings
B/G with B siblings (in-laws, nieces, nephews)
B with B siblings

B/G with G parents and siblings 
B/G with G siblings (in-laws, nieces and nephews)
B/G with G parents 
G with G siblings 
G with G mom 
G with G parents 
G with G dad

What If There Are More I Want?

Definitely let your photographer know! We have a place in our pre-wedding questionnaire where our couples can list out any additional family formal pictures they want to include. Sometimes a bride asks for a picture with a special cousin or want to include a close family friend. Don’t be afraid to ask!

The one thing to remember is that group shots take time to do. For every picture request, it involves: tracking down the right people from the crowd, getting everyone posed, taking several shots (someone always blinks, you know), and dispersing the group. Each picture can take 2-4 minutes, depending on the size of the group. When you start doing the math, adding 10 picture requests can take an extra 20-30 minutes.

So by all means, don’t be afraid to ask for the special family pictures you want! Just keep in mind that you’ll have to compensate by adding extra time to your timeline to fit it all in.

Tip For Unique Situations

If you have a unique family situation that your photographer needs to be sensitive to, please tell the in advance! This includes things like:

~Divorced parents (do you want a picture of you with the two of them, or would that not be a good idea?)

~Step parents (is there any awkwardness we need to avoid?)

~Significant others that aren’t officially married yet but you are still inviting to the family formals (which pictures do you want to include them in?).

Coordinating The Family

Communication! It’s the best way to make sure everyone is in the right place at the right time. You want to inform everyone ahead of time exactly where to meet at what time. Be specific!

If you want more details on this (including a free template you can copy and send to your family), check out our 3 Easy Tips for Coordinating Family Formals!

Communicating With Your Photographer

As always, you’ll want to talk with your own photographer about her system for family formals. We love that our couples trust us to be the experts for their wedding photography. Ask your photographer if she has a standard list or if you should come up with one.

If you know you want really specific pictures, you can always ask to see that list ahead of time! We include this copy of our family formal portrait list in our online Resource Library that each of our brides have unlimited access to. We also make sure they have an opportunity to share any additional picture requests with us before the wedding.

That’s it!

We hope you found this helpful as you plan your wedding day! Wedding planning doesn’t have to be stressful when you have the tools you need. If you’d like even more wedding planning tips, check out the Tidbit section of our blog. There are dozens of helpful posts just like this one!

If you’re newly engaged, we’ve got something special for you! You can get a copy of our

8 Favorite Tips for The Newly Engaged Bride here!

Do you have any questions for us on family formals? Or maybe you had an experience at your own wedding that you’d like to share. We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments below!



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