• Veronika J.

13 Important Tips for Family Portraits / Group Photos at Your Wedding

Updated: Jul 29, 2021

Wedding family photos are also known as family formals. They are often scheduled just after your wedding ceremony and could feature your immediate family members and grandparents. At other times, couples could choose to take the pictures with extended family later, like, say, during cocktail hour. But again, this depends on the kind of wedding you’re having and how many people will attend.

Group photographs may take a very long time and it can get very tiring. And no one wants that. That's why in this article, we discuss how your family portraits and group photos can go really smoothly. One of the important keys is to take them in a way that is really helpful to you and your loved ones. For more, let’s discuss some important wedding tips for family portraits and group portraits in the paragraphs below.

1. You’re Going to Need A Shot List

This is the only photography shot list you will need for your wedding. A list with names is essential when it comes to your family portraits and group photos. It usually features the parents, siblings and grandparents in that order, but this is dependent on you.

2. Break Things Down with Extended Family

If you have a large extended family at your wedding and want to get them in your wedding photos, there’s an easy way to go about it. Rather than trying to fit so many people in one shot, you can break things down. Separate them into groups, grab your wedding photographer and then have the photos taken group by group. This will save you the time of running around looking for everyone to fit in the picture at once. It’ll also make your extended family portraits less time-consuming.

3. Give Your Wedding Photographer Names

When creating the shot list for your wedding photographer, names are always the best to go with. Using general boxes like “The bride’s uncle” could cause problems if there are more than one, for instance. So rather than writing “The couple and the bride’s uncle and aunt,” go for “The couple and Uncle Mark and Aunt Marge.” It makes it easier for your wedding photographer to let who will be next in the shot with you know. Where there’s a large group of people, you can try distinguishing them using family last names and the likes.

4. Assign A Family Portrait Point Person

Having a family member who knows everyone working with your wedding photographer for the portraits is the best. That way, they can point out all the people on your list in time for the photographs. This is better than having the wedding photographer only call out names, as this does not always work. People could be distracted and not hear on time.

5. The Time for Each Portrait

You’ll need about two to three minutes for each family portrait when it comes to your wedding. Most couples are surprised when they hear this because they think it’s just about lining people up to take pictures. This isn’t so. Your wedding photographer will have first to make sure everyone listed is available and then pose each group member in the best way for the picture. This is a great way to make sure no one feels left out and get great wedding pictures. So, schedule about three minutes for each group.

6. Keep Your Number of Groups Small

The best number of groups to have overall is ten. This is because if you had, say, 15 groups to work with and your wedding photographer uses 3 minutes for each group, that’s 45 minutes straight of just family photos. You’ll find that you might not enjoy that so much. This could also end up cutting into your bridal portrait and couple portrait time. So, try to keep the number of your groups small.

How To Keep Your Groups Small

If you have a large family and are worried about keeping your groups small, there’s an answer. One of the most trusted ways is to condense your groups. For example, instead of just taking photos with your mum’s side of the family, you can do so with both your mum and dad’s side of the family. If you, however, want to keep everybody separate, just be aware that there is no way to take photos of, say, 45 groups in 30 minutes. It’ll take lots of time, so be prepared.

7. When to Have Your Family Photos

With First Look

Usually, for couples who have a first look (i.e. when the couple sees each other before the ceremony), you can also have your immediate family photos at that point before your ceremony. This is advantageous as everyone is still looking fresh at that time. It also means that you don’t have to worry about photos after your ceremony and can go straight to your cocktails.

If you’re doing a first look but are worried your extended family will not be there in time for photos at that point, you could split into two groups. Have the family portraits with your immediate family before your wedding ceremony and the one with your extended family after. It’ll take five to ten minutes top, and then you can head for your cocktail hour.

Without First Look

If you do not have a first look, then the best time for your family photos is immediately after your ceremony. That is, at the start of cocktail hour. With weddings like this, the ceremony venue is usually the place for family photos. If this is the case with you, it’s best to have your other guests ushered away from that site before you have the photos done.

This is because guests will naturally want to talk with you and your family members after the ceremony. This could really cause delays and elongate your family photo time. You don’t want to end up having a shorter time for your bridal and couple portraits as a result or even have a delay in your reception start time.

8. Where to Take Your Family Photos

Having your wedding photographer choose a location for your family photos is the best idea. They won’t only look at the scenic views but also consider things like lighting and the right backdrops. They’ll know when and in what direction to shoot your early morning family photos after your first look. You don’t want to have pictures with the sun coming up in everyone’s eyes, for example. Your wedding photographer would have considered that well ahead of time. You’ll also want a location that suits your overall wedding theme.

Family Portrait Locations for Huge Groups

The best locations for huge family groups are places with stairs. An area very close to your ceremony site can also be helpful with supplying chairs. That way, some people can be seated on chairs while standing to make the photo better.

9. Let Your Photographer Know about any Disabilities

If you have family members with disabilities or grandparents who use wheelchairs, for instance, please tell your wedding photographer ahead of time. This way, they’ll keep them in mind when choosing a location for your family portraits. You don’t want to have your wedding photographer choose a perfect place and have to change it because your family member can’t make it there.

Letting your wedding photographer know if any family members have mental disabilities like severe autism is also important. This way, they can find ways to work with that during your family portraits. With your help, your wedding photographer will learn the best way to make the experience pleasant and enjoyable.

10. Tell Everyone Where and When to Meet

This tip works not only for family photos but also for bridal portraits. Let everyone know when and where to meet for your photos. You could send them an email once you know your wedding timeline and then remind everyone again at your rehearsal dinner. That way, your photos won’t be delayed by everyone waiting for specific family members to show up for the portraits. This delay could even lead to a delay in your other wedding activities as I mentioned earlier and we don’t want that.

11. Tell Everyone to Be Cooperative

It might sound a bit strict, but it could be beneficial. The easier it is to work with everyone, the faster your family portraits can happen. Sometimes, you could set out 45 minutes for family photos, and they’ll take only 20 minutes because everyone is listening and cooperative. So, don’t forget to tell everyone to pay attention to the wedding photographer when it’s time for family photos. Doing otherwise would mean your photos will take longer, and everyone could get very stressed and tensed.

12. As A Couple Stay in The Same Spot

You’ll be tempted to mingle and exchange pleasantries, but that will only delay you. Having to find the bride or the groom for the next family photo takes time. If you’re in the same spot, it’s easier for your wedding photographer to get the different groups to you and get the images done speedily. If people are trying to talk to you, just wave them over to your spot.

13. Family Drama

Last but not least is family drama. There are many different kinds of family drama that could affect your wedding portraits. Some of them could be friction between the bride and groom’s families or even divorced parents.

Whatever the situation, the first step is to give your wedding photographer a heads-up. That way, you and them can decide on what works best for your kind of family drama. That could include making sure both parents are not in the same photos or taking the pictures with different families at different times. You want to do what is best for everyone and your family photos despite the drama.

The second step is to have a candid conversation with your family members. Let them know how important these photos are to you and that you’d love it if everybody gets along for them. An honest conversation like this can often make a world of difference. Best of luck!

Wedding planning can be very overwhelming and stressful. But every bride wants to have a beautiful wedding which everyone will remember.

Veronika J. Fine Art Photography creates unique photographs & videos with an artistic touch, so every bride can feel proud of her memories that won’t be forgotten.

Learn more about my Wedding Photography Packages.


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