3 Tips For Quick and Easy Family Formals


Apr 1, 2021

Wedding Planning Tips // Making Family Formals Quick and Easy // Wedding Photographers in Huntsville, Alabama

Updated April 1, 2021 // Originally published Dec 17, 2015

One of the many special aspects of a wedding is how it draws family together. We talk a lot about capturing genuine moments that really highlight each unique relationship. But as your mom will tell you, nothing quite replaces the official family formals!

As a bride, you know you need (and want!) family formals. In the past, you may have experienced weddings where the family formal part felt chaotic and never ending. How can you make the family picture session as easy and painless as possible for you and your family?

We’re here to help!

We’re sharing my Top 3 Favorite Tips that will help the entire family formal experience go smoothly. Your family might even find themselves looking back on it with fond memories!

Our #1 tip is to communicate clearly.

Have a plan in place ahead of time and communicate it. Know where and when immediate and extended family needs to meet for pictures. We also recommend having your officiant make an announcement after the recessional for the family to immediately return to the ceremony site. To make it even easier, he could ask them to simply remain seated. You can’t lose what never left!

Tell your immediate and extended family ahead of time that they’ll need to be ready to take pictures right after the ceremony. The offiant’s announcement will be just a reminder instead of a “wait? does that include us?” moment of confusion for your family.

Tips #2: Introducing The Family Composer

If you really want things to go smoothly and quickly, recruit one organized family member who knows which people go with which group. This person is going to be your “Family Composer” for your extended family portraits.

The Family Composer will help the photographer collect specific family members needed for the next picture. Because your Family Composers know names and family groups so much better than your photographer does, it will help the process go smoothly and quickly! There’s always a cousin who gets distracted in conversation or an uncle who makes a beeline for the reception in lieu of smiling for the camera.

Tip #3: A List With Names!

This is something we do for all of our couples as part of our J&A Wedding Experience, and it’s vital to quick and easy family formals!

Our questionnaire asks our couples for a list of family names and their relationship to the bride and groom. Before the wedding day, I customize our standard family shot list with corresponding family names. I can also add in specific picture requests to this list, along with names.

When family formal time comes, I’m able to call out the groups I need by name. It makes things clear, concise, easy, and stress-free! It also allows me to prepare my “on-deck” groups while Joel is photographing the current family combination.

These tips are going to help create a much more enjoyable family formal experience for your own wedding day! Even just adding in one or two of these will make a noticeable difference. Don’t be afraid to talk to your photographer about finding the best scenario for making your family formals simple and stress-free. They’ll be happy to help make that happen!

For more of our family picture tips, check out this Tidbit post with 5 Tips on Planning for Extended Family Portraits!


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