family portrait tips for a wedding day
Wedding photography has evolved in many ways in the years since I began my career, but one aspect that has never changed is the importance of family portraits. After all, they offer both a record of the loved ones who came together to celebrate with you AND a great excuse to take professional photos showing off how great your family looks in formal clothes. Talk about a win-win!

The only downside of family portraits is that they can be a point of stress on the wedding day. So today I thought I would offer a few tips to make the family portraits at your wedding as stress-free as possible!

1. Ask your photographer for limits
Most photographers have taken family portraits enough times to have a pretty good idea of how many groupings they can photograph well during a portrait session. Talk with your photographer about what that number is for them. Personally, I set my portrait sessions at 30 minutes each, which gives me time to photograph 10 groupings well. When my clients have additional groupings beyond 10, I let them know that we need to build more time into the wedding timeline for this part of the day.

2. Discuss family portraits with your fiancé
This is a conversation that some couples dismiss as irrelevant or common-sense, but it's an important one to have! It's possible for one of you to assume that family portraits include only your parents and siblings, while the other is planning to have photos with all of their second and third cousins. Sit down together and make sure you're on the same page! Every family is different, but some of the groupings we see most often are:

Bride & Groom with Bride's extended family
Bride & Groom with Bride's immediate family
Bride & Groom with Bride's parents
Bride & Groom with Groom's extended family
Bride & Groom with Groom's immediate family
Bride & Groom with Groom's parents
Bride & Groom with both sets of parents

3. Share any special considerations
As a photographer, I often get to know my clients pretty well by their wedding day, so sometimes they forget that I don't ALSO know their families. This means that I don't know if Grandpa has trouble standing and will need a chair for portraits. I don't know if your Aunt Anna practically raised you while you barely know Aunt Delores, so I might give them equal time and importance in your portraits. I don't know if there have been divorces, deaths, or conflicts that might make some family groupings or poses awkward for the people involved. All of these examples add up to one important rule: talk to your photographer! If there are mobility issues or any strained or special relationships, please let them know! Your photographer will want to be sensitive and supportive in the way they pose your family, but they need information in order to do so.

4. Assign a photo wrangler
There are times when I compare getting the bridal party or family together for photos to herding cats. And I do this for a living! On your wedding day, you should not be the one hunting down Uncle Joe so that he can be in the family photo! The solution is to request that someone serve as a portrait wrangler for your bridal party and family photos. Make sure your wrangler has a list of all of the portrait groupings and who will be in each of them. It's helpful if the person doing this job is familiar with many of the people in the photos. Not only will you love how smoothly your group portraits go, but your photographer will thank you for it!

5. Give your family a schedule
Your family members may be involved in some aspects of planning the wedding, but they probably don't have your wedding timeline memorized. Give them a specific time and place to show up -- which should be at least 5 minutes BEFORE family portraits are scheduled to begin. You might ask your photo wrangler to follow that up with a reminder text on the wedding day, to ensure that no one forgets.

The family portraits from your wedding day are going to be treasured not only by you, but also by the other members of your family. With some forethought and implementation of the tips above, they can also be fun and stress-free!

-----------> If you are engaged and planning your wedding, another way to reduce stress is to start thinking about the timeline of your day early on! If you would like to have a timeline to start from, click here to take a quick 2-question quiz, and we will email you back with an ideal preliminary timeline based on the sunset time on your wedding day as well as whether or not you would like to do a first look!
5 tips to help your family portraits go smoothly on your wedding day
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