Family formals do not have to take more than 20 minutes. However, this is only possible if everyone is organized beforehand. After photographing over 160 weddings in my career, I have developed a system for efficient family formals. There are four main factors that help with efficiency.
Stick to 10 Groupings
By limiting the groupings to the couple, parents, grandparents, and siblings of the bride & groom and their spouses and children, this ensures that there is plenty of sunlight left for your romantic portraits. Don’t worry, we’ll make sure to capture any large and extended family portraits during the reception. The reception is also the perfect time to gather your old roommates, sorority sisters, and fraternity brothers for those long overdue group photos!
Something else that makes a world of difference is making sure to include names when planning out your family formal list! I want you to imagine a room full of people. When I am looking for the mother of the groom, if I don’t have a name to call out, everyone in that room with a child (young or old) is going to turn her head. Now, if the groom’s name is Emily, I am going to get her attention MUCH faster!
Inform Family Formal Participants
Gathering family formals is probably the biggest struggle of the evening, but it doesn’t have to be. I recommend touching base with each individual family member to let them know they are expected to stay around the ceremony site, or to meet at the agreed upon location for family formals. This will eliminate valuable minutes from having to hunt down siblings or grandparents that are needed for family formals.
When it comes to special circumstances with families, please know that as photographers, we do not take these lightly. I understand firsthand how sensitive and tense it can be putting two parents who don’t get along in the same photo. Make sure you work with me, or your photographer, to go over these situations and come up with a custom family formal list to help minimize any tension or awkward family photos.
A Helping Hand
A key factor in ensuring efficient family formals is to have a helping hand to help call out names on deck for the next set of formals. For me, this helping hand is my second photographer. If you are a bride out there who has decided to not have a second photographer included in your package, I recommend a close family friend, or even a bridesmaid, to help with this part of the evening.
Family Formal Sample list
Below is a sample list of the 10 recommended groupings:
- B&G with Bride’s Immediate Family
- B&G with Bride’s Parents
- B&G with Bride’s Siblings
- B&G with Bride’s Grandparents
- B&G with both set of Parents
- B&G with Groom’s Immediate Family
- B&G with Groom’s Parents
- B&G with Groom’s Grandparents
- B&G with Groom’s Siblings
- B&G with all family members
Let’s break each of these down even further to see how each of these groups are broken down to make the most out of your family formals:
- Bride & Groom with Bride’s Immediate Family
(Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, Nieces & Nephews)
- Bride & Groom with Both Parents & Grandparents
Bride with Bride’s parents & Grandparents
Groom with Groom’s parents & Grandparents
- Bride & Groom with Her Grandparents
Bride’s Generational Portrait
Bride with Grandparents
Groom’s Generational Portrait
Groom with Grandparents
- Bride & Groom with his Immediate Family
(Parents, Grandparents Siblings, Nieces & Nephews)
Bride & Groom with Groom’s Parents & Siblings
- Bride with Parents, Siblings, Nieces & Nephews
Bride with all siblings
Bride with individual siblings
- Bride & Groom with both sides of Immediate Family
(Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, & Nieces and Nephews)
- Groom with Parents, Siblings, Nieces & Nephews
Groom with all siblings
Groom with individual siblings
- Bride & Groom with Both Parents
Bride & Groom with Bride’s Parents
Bride & Groom with Groom’s Parents
- Bride with Parents
Bride with Mom
Bride with Dad
- Groom with Parents
Groom with Mom
Groom with Dad
As you can see, these groupings breakdown into so much more than just 10 photos. With my experience, as long as everyone is where they need to be and I have all the necessary names, family formals can be captured in 20 minutes! Now that’s how we achieve quick and efficient family formals!!
PRO TIP: If you choose to do a first look, consider scheduling time in BEFORE the ceremony to capture some of these family formals so that you can enjoy cocktail hour with the rest of your guests!
Tell me your favorite tip in the comments below!