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What wedding isn’t complete without family photos? Everyone’s looking their dapper best and you want to capture a moment with all your most important family and friends. But we also know from experience that rounding everyone up and getting these pictures completed efficiently can be difficult and time-consuming – so we are here to help! Let’s talk creating a family photo list!

With a little planning, your family photo time doesn’t have to take up too much of your big day, while still getting in all your favorite people for great pictures together. This means more time for reception fun, more time to celebrate, and more time for YOU, the couple!

So how do we suggest you do it? Why, by creating a family photo list in advance to discuss with your photographer! A little planning goes a long way, and while it may seem like a lot of work at the moment – it’s so helpful on the day-of! Check out our tips below ☺

So, what is a family photo list? A family photo list is a compiled list of all you and your fiancé’s special people – all the family and close friends you want to make sure you have portraits with during family photo time! This list also breaks down what type of photo combinations you want with family. It helps you organize and prioritize, to get the most out of your photo time!

Tips for Creating Your List

#1: When creating the family photo list, if no one will want that photo to hang on their wall and display with love after the wedding, it’s not worth taking it or adding it to the list.  There is plenty of time for informals at the reception. 

#2: The best way to narrow down your list, is to ask yourself the question: Who will want to frame this photo? That means, the photos should be important to someone. Maybe you won’t cherish it as much as mom will, but if you know that it is important to someone to have that photo, then you should have it on the list. The same is true for the opposite – if it won’t really matter to anyone, then don’t take a “classic” photo just because you think you should.

#3: Run the list by all your parents and get the OK. This is super helpful for your photographer because having a list with the stamp of approval by all parents means there will be no thoughtful interfering during photo time and having them ask. They will respect the list you have ready to go.

#4: If it’s written down, it’s more likely to happen. This is just good advice for anything about your wedding. Things get hectic and you get caught up in the excitement, so if you think about photo opportunities you want, just write it down somewhere. Now, you don’t have to write down everything you want photographed – you’ve hired a professional photographer and they will know what they are doing. However, if your cousin Sue is coming from Florida and you haven’t seen her in 5 years and she’s your favorite cousin and you’d really like to get a photo of the two of you, then mention it to the photographer and write it down.

#5: A family photo list is all about formal family portraits. This list should be kept to a minimum of the photos your really want (as mentioned above), and the rest of the photos will be taken as candid shots of groups in the reception, social hour, etc. Formal photos are all in one location where the scene is controlled and the lighting is well managed. Candid group shots are about wrangling people together and taking a snap shot to get what you get – all about being in the moment! 

family photo list candid family shot

Now, let’s get started on actually making your list!

Consider your mom’s side of the family as you make the list. These photos will include you, your fiancé, your mother, your father, stepparents, siblings, in-laws, nieces/nephews, and your grandparents on mom’s side.  Just remember when thinking about how much time this will take, it’s best to budget 3 min per photo.

There are a lot of potential combinations, but here are a few that we see most often:

  • You and your grandparents on mom’s side
  • You with each grandparent on mom’s side
  • Just your grandparents on mom’s side – they are all dolled up after all ☺
  • Generation shot option: i.e. you, your mom, your grandma (we love these shots!)
  • All the ladies/fellas shot: i.e. you, your mom, your sisters, etc.
  • A large photo where you switch out your grandparents on your mom’s side or have both sets in one large photo.
  • Now complete the list again for your dad’s side!

Let’s talk about the immediate family. We listed some potential combinations for you, your fiancé, and your immediate family that we see a lot:

  • You, your fiancé, your parents/stepparents, your siblings
  • You, your fiancé, your parents/stepparents
  • You and your parents/stepparents
  • You and your mother
  • You and your father
  • Just your mother and father
  • You and your siblings

Take a moment to review your list and write out any other group/family members/photo combinations not listed that you would like – be sure to include their name and relation.

All right – now take a break to give yourself a pat because you are rockin’ this!

Feeling good? Great! Now it’s time to repeat the list for your fiancé’s family!

And finally! Extras:

Huge Group Shots: If there are any huge group shots you’d like to take that didn’t written down first thing – include them here!

family photo list big group photo

Non-Family Special Groups: If there are any non-familial groups you’d like to have a picture of – for example, you and your seven best friends – make sure to include those types of photo combinations here as well!

Individuals: If there are any individual shots you’d like to have, be sure to include them in the list.

family photo list picture with grandma

You did it! You have successfully compiled a family photo list. Woo! Over the next few days, take a look at it after you’ve had the chance to sleep on it. See if there are any tweaks you’d like to make. Once you are satisfied with it, be sure to send it to your photographer so that they can look it over with you as well.

Next, let’s talk tips for translating the family photo list into day-of photos!

Day-Of Tips:

#1: Have a family “wrangler” – someone on each side of the family or a personal attendant who can assist in gathering everyone needed for family photos. A day-of coordinator can also be super helpful in these situations!

#2: Each family photo takes approximately 2 minutes to organize, so plan accordingly and try to keep family photos to a minimum.

#3: Plan buffer time when taking family photos and don’t schedule family time right before your ceremony. Always give yourself enough time in case things lag. You can read more about day of timelines and how to plan your day here!

#4: Make sure to tell the photographer about any disabilities or issues with family members.

#5: Sometimes certain family members don’t get along and that’s ok; it’s just a good idea to let the photographer know!

#6: Make sure that you tell your photographer about particularly important people in your life! When it comes to family and friend dynamics, we as photographers won’t know who is most important in your life or what grouping of people are best unless you tell us. So, if you have an Aunt who was like a second mother to you, be sure to let us know!

The same is true for friend groupings. Sometimes you have a “college friend” group or the “cousins photo” ( that photo of you and all the cousins you take at every family event). Be sure to mention it to your photographer! 

#7: Start with the biggest group first! Big groups are traditionally difficult to wrangle, especially when everyone is so excited to see you and see family and friends! So starting with the biggest group can get that challenge out of the way first and set a tone for everyone to focus on pictures!

#8: After big groups, move on to your grandparents and other older family members. Starting with older family members gives them the opportunity to head off to the reception first and to get out of the elements, if necessary – be it cold, wind, heat, or rain. They get to enjoy you and also have time to get settled ☺

Above all else, remember that family photo taking time can be stressful, and that’s normal. If you feel yourself getting annoyed at trying to manage your entire family and new in-laws, just laugh about how everyone who gets married has to deal with the same shenanigans! 

Congratulations are in order – you’ve just made a big and important part of your big day SO much easier by creating a family photo list. Way to go, you ☺

How to Create a Family Photo List | Penny Photographics

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