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Planning For Family Portraits

When it comes to your wedding day, almost everything is planned. From the time you get up, to the minute you light those exit sparklers – EVERYTHING. However, I’ve noticed that family portrait time is the least talked about and planned. Instead of running smoothly, it’s it can tend to turn into chaos pretty quickly. Imagine the terror of wanting a picture with someone near and dear to you and when their name is called frantically by the photographer they aren’t there!

As a photographer, family portrait time is one of the craziest parts of a wedding day. Uncle John is nowhere to be found, the flower girl who is also your niece is crying, and no one seems to be listening. This all affects you and your day. Rather than having that just married glow, many brides can get stressed or annoyed about no one listening.

One way I help my brides is by giving them a little homework. Now this isn’t just any homework, it’s where they list out all the immediate family members that they want during family portraits. I say “immediate” because if we did everyone we could be taking pictures for hours. My advice for hammering this out: get the family members that are closest to you, not the ones that people tell you are mandatory. This is YOUR day. I always say that if there are more people that you want photos with that are distant family or people like family, that we should do them during the reception after you eat.

Below you will find the template that my brides fill out before the wedding that way I know exactly who to call for photos. By doing this, we streamline the process of taking over hundreds of images. I can guarantee everyone will be happier if this takes less than 45 minutes so that they can go enjoy the food and music.

You can always add or subtract from this list, but I don’t recommend going much larger. If you aren’t sure talk it over with your fiancé and your photographer. Your photographer will be able to help you. (Side note: be sure to designate someone to inform each of the people on the list that they are needed at family portrait time – do this ahead of wedding day).

Scroll to the bottom to see an example of a Family Shot List. The parts in bold are the spaces that my brides fill in (ps. It’s mine and Aidan’s shot list)

Immediate Family

Bride and Groom Together

  1. B&G w/ B. mom (Penny), B. dad (David), G. mom (Judi), G. dad (Brian)
  2. B&G w/ B. mom (Penny), B. dad (David), B. siblings (Kaitlyn), G. mom (Judi), G. dad (Brian), G. siblings (Sean, Quinlin)
  3. B&G w/ all siblings (Kaitlyn, Sean, Quinlin)
  4. B&G w/ B. grandparents (Memaw)
  5. Bride w/ B. grandparents (Memaw)
  6. B&G w/ G. grandparents (Marie, Dave)
  7. Groom w/ G. grandparents (Marie, Dave)

Mainly Bride

  1. B&G w/ B. mom (Penny), B. dad (David), B. siblings (Kaitlyn), grandparents (Memaw)
  2. Bride w/ mom (Penny), dad (David), siblings (Kaitlyn), grandparents (Memaw)
  3. Bride w/ mom (Penny), dad (David), siblings (Kaitlyn)
  4. Bride w/ mom (Penny), dad (David)
  5. Bride w/ mom (Penny)
  6. Bride w/ dad (David)
  7. Bride w/ siblings (Kaitlyn)
  8. Bride w/ G. mom (Judi), G. dad (Brian)

Mainly Groom

  1. B&G w/ G. mom (Judi), G. dad (Brian), G. siblings (Sean, Quinlin), grandparents (Marie, Dave)
  2. Groom w/ mom (Judi), dad (Brian), siblings (Sean, Quinlin), grandparents (Marie, Dave)
  3. Groom w/ mom (Judi), dad (Brian), siblings (Sean, Quinlin)
  4. Groom w/ mom (Judi), dad (Brian)
  5. Groom w/ mom (Judi)
  6. Groom w/ dad (Brian)
  7. Groom w/ siblings (Sean, Quinlin)
  8. Groom w/ individual siblings (Sean, Quinlin)
  9. Groom w/ sibling and sister-in-law (Sean, Katelyn)

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