How to Get Family Formals Done in 30 Minutes | Wedding Day Tips

April 15, 2019

It’s almost the start of wedding season for me, YAAY!!! Which got me thinking about a topic near and dear to my heart… family formals!!! Family formals are SO important… they capture the most important people in your life, on the most important day of your life. With any luck, these family photos will be cherished for years & generations to come. Many wedding couples worry that family formals will be disorganized or take up too much of their reception time. I usually allot 30 minutes for family formals. Now I know that may not seem like a lot of time to get organized pictures of all of your closest family members but it is completely possible. Here’s how I get it done…

Make a list and stick to it.

Around 6 weeks before a wedding, I reach out to my wedding couple and request a list of immediate family members for formal pictures along with a rough timeline for the day. I will then take your family member info and customize my suggested formal list for you. This is really just a starting point; the couple can make any changes they like, but I find that this helps my couples to know where to even begin. Having a list in place ahead of time also helps us stay as organized as possible on the day of the wedding. The list we agree on is what I live and die by on your wedding day!

Choose your family portrait location beforehand.

Family formals are best when taken outdoors. I am a natural light photographer, so I favor the outdoor shots. It’s great when I’m shooting at a venue I’m familiar with because I can recommend where the best spots are to take family formals. However, if your venue is “new” to me, I’ll scout out locations for family formals beforehand. It can sometimes be tricky to find a spot that can accommodate a large number of family members. Our best bet is to decide on where you’d like your portraits to take place, but also have a backup plan should the weather or lighting not cooperate.

Tell your family members what the plan is.

Everyone who is on your family formal list should be aware of what time and where the portraits will take place. The last thing you’ll want to stress over on your wedding day is herding your family members together when it comes time for family formals. Once we’ve agreed on the timeline and formal list, it’s so important that you share the timing with everyone who will be in the photos. Some couples designate a best man or bridesmaid to be the “enforcer” and get everyone to where they need to be. You could also have your wedding coordinator or DJ make an announcement a few minutes prior to the designated meeting time to give your family the reminder they might need!  

Have a second photographer.

Having a second photographer is SOOO important! I can’t stress enough how much I rely on my second photographer during a wedding, especially during family formals. She helps me stay organized, helps pose everyone, and helps me stick to our pre-determined family formal list. Read my blog post The Importance of Having a Second Photographer.

I hope you found these family formal tips helpful! Subscribe to my blog for more helpful wedding planning tips. Happy wedding planning!

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