Family Photos

Taking Family Photos at Your Wedding


Part 1: Family Photos Lists


Family photos are a very important part of your wedding day. They will without a doubt be one of the more frustrating parts of your day, but they’ll also be some of your most displayed photos. It doesn’t have to become a dreaded chore and take hours away from you. I personally try to keep family photos to 30 minutes or less. Because of this, a list is very important. A bit of prior planning will go along way. 


When making your list it's important that you write it out personally. Try to avoid the generic photo lists that you find online. Often they have 40+ combinations, many of which don’t pertain to you, and sometimes they even leave out important ones you may want. Because every family is different and has different dynamics between members, its nearly impossible to have something one-list-fits-all so to speak. I don’t want to call out a grandparents photo if they are no longer with us. Likewise, I don’t want to refer to ‘mom and dad’ in a photo if they are divorced (and perhaps remarried) and don’t want to be photographed together. This is why a list helps tremendously!


To stay within the 30 minute time frame I normally tell my clients to stick to 15 photos or less. Less if you include large family groupings. If you can, stay away from including the large groups with aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Once in a while, this is unavoidable and I totally understand. In those cases, I would suggest keeping it as minimal as you can, perhaps one large group for each side of the family. Just keep in mind that doing these large groups may cause you to have to delete some of the other photos from your list. 


Here is a (generic) sample list that would keep family photos within reason:


B+G+ Bride’s grandparents on mother’s side

B+G+ Bride’s grandparents on father’s side

B+G+ Bride’s Parents

B+G+ Bride’s Parents and Siblings and significant others

Bride and siblings


B+G+ Groom’s grandparents on mother’s side

B+G+ Groom’s grandparents on father’s side

B+G+ Groom’s Parents

B+G+ Groom’s Parents and Siblings and significant others

Groom and Siblings


Other Photos without Bride and Groom:

Bride’s parents

Groom’s parents

Bride’s grandparents (both sets)

Groom’s grandparents (both sets)


Again, much like other lists, this is just a starting point and some may not pertain to your situation. 


Part 2: When to take Family Photos


For most weddings, the best time to take your family photos is directly after the ceremony. Even if you do a first look I normally recommend that you save the family pictures for afterward. The reason behind this is because it doesn’t require anyone to be there early. If you do your family photos before the ceremony you’ll be asking the family to get there about 1-1.5 hours prior. Not only is this hard on anyone that's elderly or who may have small children, but there will inevitably be people who are late (and usually it's an important person that needs to be in 1/4 of the photos lol). If you take them afterward everyone will be there, and more importantly, all in one location. 


Part 3: Locations


The majority of couples want to take family photos in the same location as their ceremony. If for whatever reason you have another location in mind, please let me know. Sometimes ceremony locations need to be re-configured to host the reception the in the same room, sometimes lighting may not be ideal (we don’t want everyone staring into the sun!), or maybe you just like another room at your venue better. Whatever the reason may be, let your family members know where to go after the ceremony. If they need to stick around in the same room tell them to stay in (or go back to) their seats. If you have another location in mind tell them what room that is and how to get there. My best advice is to have a couple of go-to people, usually a brother or sister on each side of the family. Those people should have a family photo list and can make sure everyone on that list sticks around and doesn’t leave!