Wedding Day Family Formals Checklist

Whether you've been at a family wedding before, or are planning for your own wedding, there's one part of the wedding day that, when mentioned, is usually followed by an audible groan from all involved...family formals. Whether you've had a bad experience before and felt like you were standing and smiling for an eternity, or you want to avoid family drama, or you just want to get to cocktail hour, I am here to help. I promise, it doesn't have to be so bad! I have found that the following are keys to create faster, less stressful family formals on a wedding day: 

Emma Shourds Photography

Emma Shourds Photography

1. Communicate with your family before the wedding day.  Make sure everyone in both families knows beforehand to stay put for family photos after the ceremony ends. Some people even have their officiant make an announcement right after the ceremony reminding family members to stay for photos. This helps avoid having to search for someone who should be in the group family photo while everyone else is ready and waiting.

2. Have a designated family member or family friend who can help.  Choose a person in your family, or even better, a close friend of the family (one for the bride's family and one for the groom's family) who won't be in the family photos. This should be a person who knows which people need to be in the photos, knows all their names, and is good at rounding people up! 

3. Have a shot list.  This is actually the only part of the day I request a shot list for. It is the most important thing you can do to speed up family portraits! I have put together a list of combinations, starting with the largest grouping. Some families may not want all of these, which is absolutely fine. However, if your family wants more than these, it is best to take those during the reception for time's sake. I try to get all the family formals done in less than 30 minutes.

Bride’s side

  • Bride & Groom – complete extended family group photo (parents, step-parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, cousins, uncles, etc.) 
  • Bride & Groom – step parents, parents, grandparents, siblings 
  • Bride & Groom – parents, grandparents, siblings 
  • Bride & Groom - grandparents
  • Bride & Groom – parents, siblings 
  • Bride & Groom – parents (then add step parents) 
  • Bride & Groom – siblings (then add any nieces, nephews)
  • Bride - grandparents (mom's side)
  • Bride - grandparents (dad's side)
  • Bride - mom (then add step dad)
  • Bride - dad (then add step mom)
  • Bride - each sibling

Bride & Groom’s side – all parents (then add step parents)

Groom’s side

  • Bride & Groom – complete extended family group photo (parents, step-parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, cousins, uncles, etc.) 
  • Bride & Groom – step parents, parents, grandparents, siblings 
  • Bride & Groom – parents, grandparents, siblings 
  • Bride & Groom - grandparents
  • Bride & Groom – parents, siblings 
  • Bride & Groom – parents (then add step parents)
  • Bride & Groom – siblings (then add any nieces, nephews)
  • Groom - grandparents (mom's side)
  • Groom - grandparents (dad's side)
  • Groom - mom (then add step dad)
  • Groom - dad (then add step mom)
  • Groom - each sibling

*A way to make this shot list even better? Filling out everyone's names!

I believe these three tips make family formals as efficient and painless as possible. Then we can all get to the reception and celebrate! Feel free to share this with whoever you'd like :)

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