Family formals might not be the most exciting part of the day (in fact, most brides find this the most stressful aspect of planning a wedding). And as a photographer, I am here to tell you how to make the most out of your family formals:

1- It is natural to feel the pressure of family during the wedding planning process

2- We are equipped to handle family formals effortlessly

3- There is a way to make them easier (on everyone!)

I get it! Your family is most likely the most important aspect of your life. You are not only uniting with your other half, but you will also be joining both of your families. And you want to have those priceless moments captured on camera, especially if you still have living grandparents and great-grandparents.

To be very honest, family formals are not the most exciting part of the day for any photographer. BUT we understand the importance of them and just like you, we want them to go as smoothly as possible. So here are a few tips to make them stress-free!


Staying ahead of the game and planning is my first key to success! A few weeks before my couple’s wedding day, they receive a thorough questionnaire. That’s where they share with me their must-have family members for their formals. I also provide an example list of who should be included.

One of the most important aspects is to NOT include everyone! That doesn’t mean that you can’t get a picture with everyone later, or even at your cocktail hour or reception. But keep your family formals to your immediate family or closest family! You will thank me later.


If you have a planner, your photographer and planner should communicate closely about your family formals. ENOUGH time should be allotted to family photos in your timeline. Aside from your wedding crew, communicating with your family is extremely important! Let them know how things will go and where they need to be at what time.

Are they to stay behind after the ceremony? (if so, ask your officiant to announce that at the end of your ceremony) Will you do family pictures after your first look? One of the most time-consuming aspects of family formals is having to chase people down because they don’t know where they are needed. That can really slow things down and interrupt the whole flow of portraits.

If you are getting married at a church and want portraits at the altar later, remember guests will have to exit before you can reenter.

Blended families – Make sure to inform your photographer of any awkward situation within your family. Or if you would require separate formals for each of divorced parents, for example.


Moms, aunts, or your best man and maid of honor most likely know everyone involved for the pictures. So who best to help gather everyone and line them up for pictures? Enlist their help! I normally carry 3 copies of family formals lists (with their first and last names) so I can call them by name when they’re needed. But having someone who knows who’s missing and needs to be there is SO helpful! They have a much better idea of it than us since we haven’t met most of them.


One of the MANY benefits of a first look is that you get to do your family formals early on! That means everyone’s makeup and hair will be fresh. But you will also have time to enjoy your cocktail hour and more of your reception. That leaves the two of you more time to enjoy the party, interact with your guests and take more pictures with friends and extended family.

I hope this has been insightful and helpful to you bride-to-be!

Happy planning!

Married couple at sunset gold course