How to Get the Most Out of Your Formal Family Portraits on the Wedding Day

How to Get the Most Out of Your Formal Family Portraits on the Wedding Day

Josh Fisher Wedding

Photographing formal family portraits on the wedding day can a daunting and stressful task! These are portraits that matter to you! But they can take up a lot of time on the wedding day and you don’t want to keep your guests waiting. In this article, I’m going to give my insight on how to prepare and get the most out of your formal family portraits. After photographing hundreds of weddings, I have a very fluid system that works fast and gets incredible results.

Get a list prepared before hand

Get with your wedding photographer a few weeks before the wedding and detail out a list of who you want formal family portraits with on the wedding day. List out their names and titles. Don’t worry about the order they need to be photographed in. I’ll give you an order below. Or make sure your photographer has a plan.  The last thing you want on the wedding day is chaos and missed portraits.

Have someone dedicated to help with the flow on each family side

I always recommend having the mother-of-the-bride or the maid-of-honor and the mother-of-the-groom or the best man in charge of this. They will typically know everyone in the family. These people will need to contact everyone the night before the wedding AND on the wedding day to make sure the people involved in the formal family portraits will remain near the ceremony site or directed to the site where the formal family portraits will be taken.

It’s also a good idea to have the officiant remind the family members right after the ceremony.  The number one problem that slows the formal portraits down is family members drifting off while talking and need to be tracked down.

Make sure multiple shots are taken

Make sure the photographer uses a tripod and takes multiple shots in burst mode. Using a tripod and burst mode will enable to photographer to eliminate any blinks in the portraits. You don’t want to end up with any formal family portraits delivered with someone’s eyes closed!

The build up and breakout technique

This technique is used to maximize time and get as many groups as possible. I always start with the bride’s side of the family. I begin with the bride and groom with the bride’s mother and father. Then I add any siblings.  Then I add grandparents.  Then I add extended family such as cousins, aunts and uncles.  After that I quickly photograph breakout groups. With all the family up, I have them all slide over to the right or left (just outside the camera frame) and will photograph just grandparents, just siblings, just cousins, and any special groups like sisters with the mother, brothers with the father etc… at the end I will photograph the bride with the mother and father, then just mom and then just dad and that’s it!  That whole process takes less than 7 minutes.

I will repeat this entire process with the groom’s side of the family.

That’s a wrap! Formal family portraits really shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes. And most of that time is getting the guests to leave the ceremony site and getting the family lined up.

I hope this helps as you help your wedding day!