Four Tips For Smooth Family Formals

I truly believe that family formals are some of the most important photos to come from a wedding day. Unfortunately a lot of couples and their families get stressed out just thinking about them. And if you don’t have a game plan beforehand, they can get hectic pretty quickly. Here are my tips for creating a smooth family formals process!

tips for smooth family formals
  • Make sure your photographer has a list ahead of time.

    I send out a questionnaire about 6 weeks before the wedding where I have my couples list out their family members. From there, I create a cohesive list for them to approve or edit. Don’t count on just being able to remember who you need a photo of - someone will be forgotten!

  • Designate a non-family member to wrangle people.

    Preferably someone loud. ;) This should also be someone close to your family that knows who’s who. I’m at a disadvantage because I often meet the families on the wedding day and it can be difficult to keep track of names and relationships past the immediate family.

  • Communicate who needs to be where and when!

    This one can easily slip through the cracks. Make sure you tell everyone on the list BEFORE the wedding day if they need to be at the venue a couple hours early for photos, or if they need to hang back after the ceremony. Too often we need Uncle Bob for a photo and we find him at the bar!

  • Keep it simple.

    Try to limit your list to your immediate family, your grandparents, and then a big one of your extended family. Family formals often take longer than you expect, and usually by this point in the day you’ve been on your feet for hours, you have a lot of emotions going on, and you’re STARVING. Sadly, I’ve seen too many family formals cut short because everyone was exhausted and just wanted to be done. Try to keep the list to about 15-20 groupings total. We can always get some of the extended family photos at the reception, too!


Here is my basic template for family formals:

Couple with Bride’s immediate family

Couple with Bride’s parents

Couple with Bride’s grandparents

Bride with parents

Bride with mom

Bride with dad

Bride with siblings

Bride with immediate family

Bride with grandparents

Couple with both immediate families

Couple with both sets of parents

Couple with Groom’s immediate family

Couple with Groom’s parents

Couple with Groom’s grandparents

Groom with parents

Groom with mom

Groom with dad

Groom with siblings

Groom with immediate family

Groom with grandparents

Couple with everyone!