7 tips to make your formal family wedding photos easier

It’s the part of the day that every wedding photographer dreads, and the part of the day you’ll probably dislike most if not planned well. The formal family photos. Usually take place right after the ceremony, with different combinations of family members. I’ve seen this take 15 minutes, and I’ve seen this take over an hour!

It all comes down to how you plan the shots, the order of people, and thinking about who is actually in the photo.

1. Start with all the guests

If you want a photo of everyone at the wedding, the best time to do this is straight after the ceremony. Everyone is in one place, not wandering off, and most probably aren’t fueled by alcohol (at this stage).

Once you’ve taken a photo of all your guests, you’d usually then move into the family photos. Friends are often given instructions at this stage, leaving family behind. Some couples like to then also have a big group photo with all family members. This is usually a good time to get this done.

2. Start the family photos with the largest family first

This means we can get through them quicker, and send them on their way to catch up with the friends group sooner. The quicker we can get through the photos, the sooner the larger group can get out of our hair.

3. Start big and work down.

For the purposes of this example, lets say the Brides family is the largest. Start with the entire family, cousins, aunties, uncles, everyone. In my experience, it’s usually these people who hold things up the most. So start with them, and then they can be sent on their way.

Whittle the group down till you’re just left with your parents.

Once the bride’s family is completed, send them on their way. You might want to get a couple of quick photos in between with both sets of parents, or even both immediate families (parents + siblings). You can either do this in-between the two families, or wait till the end, but again – the sooner you can finish with people the sooner they don’t need to hang around slowing down things.

4. Get young and old out the way

If you have elderly family attending, or young temperamental children, think about getting them done first.

5. Have an assistant help

You and your partner will be standing front and center with a smile on your dial for about half an hour. You can’t be the one running around trying to find Uncle Barry. Likewise the photographer is going to be taking your photos, and while you may provide him with a list of people names, he’s not going to know who’s who. It’s often a good role for one of the bridesmaids & groomsman. In theory they should both know both sides of the family quite well. Failing that getting someone that’s not afraid to yell and shout at people who are wandering off when needed.

6. Have some photos at the reception

If you can minimize the amount of photos, obviously we can get through it a lot quicker. If there is a group of friends or family that isn’t too important. Think about possibly having the photo with them after dinner, in a more casual environment. You should allow for about 5 minutes per photo from start till finish.

7. Provide a list to your photographer

Write a list from start to finish of every combination you want. If you’ve followed my tips above it should look something like this.

All invited guests

Both entire familes

Bride extended family

Bride immediate family

Bride’s parents

Both immediate families

Both parents

Groom’s extended family

Groom’s immediate family

Groom’s parents


You might think, like most before you, that you don’t need a list and you can wing it on the day. But take it from my experience, every little thing you can do to make this part of your day go that little bit smoother! And if you want it to go even smoother, make sure you hire me as your wedding photographer.

Check out more of Brady’s wedding blogs.