After my wedding, my mom was so disappointed to not have a photo of me, her, and my sister. My sister was married the day after me and we had a joint reception. Sounds crazy, right? But, it was actually pretty cool. While the photographer snapped a photo of my sister and I with our dad, my mom never got one with the two of us together in our dresses. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now I wish I had that photograph.
There is A LOT that happens on your wedding day. A small portion of the day is the time we take for family photos. Formal family portraits usually happen immediately after the wedding ceremony, although it depends on the schedule of your unique day. While family photos are one of the more important aspects of documenting your day, it’s important to get them done efficiently. We also want to make sure we don’t miss any important photos. This is why I recommend creating a family photo list together to cover all of your bases.
Starting with immediate family members, create a list of desired groupings. Consult with your parents if they have any specific requests as well. Consider what photos you’d like to have in the future as well. Consider any grandparents, step parents, and in laws and how they are involved in your celebration. Create a list that includes both individuals family members separately. It’s always helpful to include names and relationships as well!
While this is not a comprehensive list of poses, I find that the following poses are most requested. Let’s pretend that the bride and groom are Jenny and Jake. I typically group the list by families. The photo list may look like:
Jenny & Jake with both immediate families, their spouses, and kids.
Jenny & Jake with all Parents: Jenny’s parents (Meredith and Louis), Jake’s Dad (Jared), Jake’s mom (Annie) and stepdad (Chris)
Jenny with: parents and siblings; parents; mom; dad; Jenny with siblings; Jenny with sisters.
Jake and Jenny with all of Jake’s family; Jake with bio parents and siblings.
Jake with Dad and bio siblings (Eric and Lauren); with Dad; Jake with bio siblings.
Jake with mom and stepdad, Jake with mom, Jake with all siblings (Eric, Lauren, and Moriah)
As your wedding photographer, I provide a space for this list in our questionnaire sent out after booking, along with more advice on putting this list together. Once you’ve completed your list, I’ll rearrange it if necessary to make sure we can flow through the list in the most time efficient manner.
Your bridal party photos are also a portion of your day where a shot list is important. Do you want a photo with each individual bridesmaid and groomsmen? Or just as groups? Do you have close friends attending your wedding, but that are not part of your wedding party? Which photos do you want during formal portrait time and which can be grabbed during the reception? While some photos and groups are best gathered directly after the ceremony and during happy hour, there may be some groupings you are okay having taken during the reception.
Lastly, consider which photo groups and poses are “must haves”, “nice to have”, and would be an “added bonus” to have. The poses and groups that are in your “must haves” should most likely take place during your formal portrait time. The “nice to have” photo groups and poses can take place during the formal portion, or at your reception depending on timing. I would recommend setting aside no less than 30 minutes for family portraits. Final timing on that should be based upon your final shot list length and poses desired. Remember, the longer your shot list the more time you’ll need to plan for family photos.