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While the majority of your wedding photos will be of you and your partner, of course you’ll also want photos of your loved ones! On your wedding day, the last thing you need is to be worrying about your family photos. As someone who’s been a wedding photographer for quite a few years, I’ve picked up a few tips on how to plan for stress free family photos. 

Stress Free Family Photos - Washington Wedding Photographer

Family Photos Questionnaire

I send all of my engaged couples a family based questionnaire about 3 months prior to their wedding date. I can also send it sooner for couples who want to check things off their list sooner than later! 

The questionnaire is a great tool to determine the structure of family formal photos we’ll take on your wedding day. Family formals normally take place immediately following your ceremony. This is a great place to gather everyone since they’ll all be in the same place at this point. 

Stress Free Family Photos - Washington Wedding Photographer

It’s important to remember your wedding day is all about you. So other times, it’s best to do family formal photos prior to the ceremony. Doing your family formals in this way will allow them to enjoy cocktail hours with the other guests. Opting to do family formals in this manner, is definitely best done when a couple chooses to do a first look. If you’re still debating doing one or not, you can check out this blog that will help you decide! 

Stress Free Family Photos - Washington Wedding Photographer

This doesn’t mean you have to do it this way (remember I said this day is all about you, I meant it!). I’ve also split family portraits with each side prior to the ceremony, saving group photos for after the ceremony. 

Who is included in family photos?

This is totally flexible! I always, always, always ask if there are any family matters I can be sensitive to and aware of on the wedding day. Traditionally, we focus on immediate family like grandparents, parents/guardians, and siblings. You absolutely don’t have to be traditional though, we can include other family members and significant others if you choose. 

Stress Free Family Photos - Washington Wedding Photographer

Let’s talk about family photo variations

As soon as I receive your questionnaire, I write down every variation you may want. I will then have you review them with your fiancé, and possibly your parents/guardians if this is best. This will save the “oh but we need to add in this person” the day of your wedding! I will quickly shut this down on your wedding day, because it will eat up time and can get messy very quickly. 

Stress Free Family Photos - Washington Wedding Photographer

How do I handle requests from a family member who previously weren’t written in your questionnaire (or wasn’t explicitly mentioned)? I will politely explain we are working off a list and if they have a photo request to grab me during the reception and I’d be happy to accommodate. I promise, this will save lots of awkwardness.  

Stress Free Family Photos - Washington Wedding Photographer

The more extensive your list, the more time we’ll need. If a large group photo is wanted with extended family like cousins and aunts, we consider if we can fit it into your timeline. If we can’t, we’ll save it for a candid reception photo. 

Stress Free Family Photos - Washington Wedding Photographer

I always recommend the couple to put someone in charge to organize the people in the family formal photos. Preferably someone who is very familiar with both sides to help call out names. As a team, we’ll roll through the list. This will give you more time to breathe later on, creating a stress free wedding day! 

Stress Free Family Photos - Washington Wedding Photographer

I think it’s important to keep in mind, family formals can feel slightly chaotic. Everyone is so excited to celebrate your marriage! However, I am fully focused on making this part of your day as streamlined as possible. 

Stress Free Family Photos - Washington Wedding Photographer

My wish is for this blog to make your family formal portraits stress free! After all, we want you to have a fun-filled wedding day all about you. 

Stress Free Family Photos - Washington Wedding Photographer

Ready to book your dream photographer (me!) for your dream day? You can contact me here

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