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Tips for Brides: My Recommended Family Formals List!

May 12, 2020

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Today continues on this blog series with my best tips for brides! Today I’m tackling a part of the day that can be overlooked but that I’d argue is one of THE most important parts of the day! Weddings are incredible in that they bring family and friends from across the country and sometimes across the world! I think it’s so important to make sure that you schedule some time during your wedding day to celebrate your two families being joined together and taking some family pictures together. These photographs mean the absolute world to my couples years down the road and I strive to make this part of the day just as fun and heartfelt as the rest!

1. Start with a recommended list!

I ask my brides for what images they want in the questionnaire that I send about two months out from their wedding day so that I’m prepared and know EXACTLY which images we can’t miss during this time! Of course, they’re free to add in a couple of combos on the day of but this gives us a solid plan to start from and avoids any extra brain space on their end on their wedding day! I have the bride & groom pretty much stand in the middle and will shuffle people in and out around them! I also ALWAYS ask for specific names and not just the relation so I can try and call people by their names when helping them get set!

Below is my recommended list of family formals that we can easily tackle within 30 minutes on your wedding day!

1. B&G with Bride’s Immediate Family (Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Nieces, Nephews, PLEASE LIST ALL NAMES)
2. B&G with Bride’s Grandparents (Mary Lou – Grandma, Harry – Grandpa)
3. B&G with Bride’s Siblings (Sister – Kayla, Brother – Andrew)
4. Bride with Siblings (Sister – Kayla, Brother – Andrew)
5. B&G with Bride’s Parents (Mother – Mary, Father – Caleb)
6. Bride with her Parents
7. Bride with Mom, Bride with Dad

8. B&G with both sets of Parents (B’s Mother Mary, B’s Father Caleb, G’s Mother Ella, G’s Father John)
9. B&G with both sets of Immediate Family (Please list all names!)

10. B&G with Groom’s Immediate Family (Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Nieces, Nephews)
11. B&G with Groom’s Grandparents (Grandpa – John, Grandma – Lacy)
12. B&G with Groom’s Siblings (Brother – Jake, Brother – Carson, Sister – Elliot)
13. Groom with Siblings
14. B&G with Groom’s Parents (Father – John, Mother – Ella)
15. Groom with his Parents
16. Groom with Mom, Groom with Dad

B&G with all family members if time allows

1. I always ask brides & grooms if they want to take any outside the list on the wedding day
2. I will ask if there’s any uncomfortable situations I should be aware of beforehand
3. Designate a family member that can help me find exactly who we need! I have names and I try to figure out who’s who but I don’t always know what your cousin looks like unless they’re in the getting ready space with us beforehand

2. Make sure that everyone knows to STAY at the ceremony site!

I remind my couples to let their family know to STAY at the ceremony site and not speed off to cocktail hour so they don’t miss the photos! I’ll remind them of this on our week of wedding call so they can remind their family the week of the wedding instead of like a month before only to have their family forget this important logistical piece!

For Brides: Tips for Getting Ready On Your Wedding Day!

3. Asking the Bride & Groom on the wedding day about extra combinations

I come from a LARGE Indian family and also a LARGE Indian community. When you start to take pictures it can very easily turn into HOURS of getting combinations with every which extended family and close family friends! It’s not a bad thing at all but it can easily throw a wedding day timeline off track if anyone and everyone starts to hop in on portraits during this time! I always work with my couples beforehand to figure out if they do have a large extended family that they want portraits with. If that’s the case we’ll make sure to pad the timeline here to give us 45 minutes and even sometimes 1 hour for this time.

On the wedding day I always make sure to ask if they’d like to STICK to the initial list that they’d given me or if they’re comfortable taking requests for images. Either way, I end up being the guide that kindly accommodates them or can be the “bad guy” and let them know that we have to whisk the couple away for their own portraits and that we can most definitely take pictures with them at the reception instead of during the allotted family formal time!

4. I always ask about any uncomfortable situations beforehand

I think it’s really helpful to know as a photographer if there are any situations to be aware of so you can be sensitive of them on the wedding day. Of course you won’t always know who EVERY single family member is on the wedding day but I do try to get a feel for it before the family formals time so I can be aware! Placing two people next to each other in photos that haven’t spoken in years does not exactly help the wedding day go as smoothly as possible and I try to avoid this as much as I can! I think its smart on any photographer to be aware of any difficult or emotional situations so you can be careful about how you phrase and words things on the wedding day. You might slip up occasionally, you’re human & you’re meeting the entire family for the first time generally, but it’s good to at least be conscious of it!

For Brides: To Do or Not To Do a First Look

5. Designate a family member that knows who everyone is that can help track people down just in case they go rogue!

Designating a family member that knows who everyone is that can help track people down just in case they go rogue! This helps IMMENSELY because like I’ve mentioned before, your photographer is meeting your ENTIRE family on the day of the wedding and isn’t necessarily going to know exactly what your cousin on your mom’s side looks like! Having someone that isn’t the bride & groom that can be in charge of finding someone if needed can help save so much time and stress on the wedding day during family formals!

6. Pay attention to the parents!

I absolutely LOVE it when my couples include a combination that’s a picture of JUST their parents together. I think it’s a really cute way to honor their marriage on your wedding day! Usually, if we have time (which we generally do because of tip #1!) if it’s not included on the list, I’ll still take a spare minute to grab a picture of each set of parents so they have these images! I like to do this during the family formals time rather than saving it for the reception since family formals are generally taken outside with better, natural lighting!

Well there you have it! These are my best tips for making family formals a really fun & smooth part of the wedding day! Getting married in 2020 or 2021? Check out Wedding Details HERE!

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If you enjoyed this post check these posts out as well:

The MP Wedding Experience
The Best of 2019 Weddings
Stress-Free Wedding Day Timeline

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