Because family formals should be fast, stress-free & create timeless memories!

Your wedding day is a celebration of love and family, and the family formal photos are a wonderful opportunity to capture timeless memories with those closest to you. As a couple, you deserve to fully enjoy this special experience without the stress of organizing and managing the family formals. In this guide, I will share some essential tips to help you create a seamless and stress-free family formal session on your wedding day, ensuring that you and your loved ones can cherish these moments together. Let's dive in!

Prepare a Shot List in Advance:

Create a family “shot list” with all the specific combinations of people you want included in formal family photos! These are the “must-haves”! Within this list ensure you are using people's names rather than just relations (ie, use Parents (Kim & Tim) instead of just Parents etc.). That way it is easy and clear for whomever is reading out the names. I always ensure I send my couples a questionnaire where they can easily send me this list and I can add it to their timeline. If your photographer doesn't request one ensure you bring a printed copy for the day of your wedding!

To go along with this point, it is so important to have someone who will read the shot list out. Often times a second shooter is the one responsible for this task but, if you only have one photographer it may be a good idea to assign this task before hand to either a wedding party member or family member that isn't partaking in the photos! Make sure it is clear to that person what the job is. They must be loud when calling out names, and must be able to hold bags, keys, phones, etc. for those who are in the photos.

Communicate Clearly and Early:

It is so important that you set aside one specific time for family formals; this is typically done in the timeline planning stage. Clearly communicate to everyone the importance of being punctual and ready for their designated photo time to keep the session on schedule. A group text or an extra slip on their invitation are just a couple ways you can do this! A wedding day can already be a bit busy with all that’s going on — keeping the plan as simple as possible to ensure we don’t need to send out a search party for anyone!

Bonus tip: Have family photos listed on the wedding agenda at the ceremony. Creating little pamphlets that are handed out to the guests at the ceremony is an amazing way to keep your guests informed on the details of the day. Include a phrase like “[immediate] family photos to follow immediately after the ceremony”. If your family formals are after your ceremony it is also a great idea to ask your officiant/pastor/priest to make an announcement about it before sending you back down the aisle as a married couple!

Allocate Sufficient Time:

Schedule an adequate amount of time for the family formals in your wedding day timeline. Factor in buffer time to accommodate any unexpected delays or additional photo requests. Allow at least 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the number of group combinations you have planned. Plan to do the family photos before cocktail hour. Yes, family photos must be done BEFORE cocktail hour! Once food and alcohol start being served, it becomes harder to organize large groups of people!

Remember, your photographer should be your teammate during this process and should help you through! Things like assisting with timeline planning, showing you example family shot lists, giving input are just a few ways they can and should support you through. Make sure to keep clear communication with them and notify them of any additional information they should be aware of before hand.

By implementing these tips, you can streamline your family formal session and ensure that capturing these special moments is a stress free experience.


Partner A & B with A's parents (Kim & Tim)  

Partner A & B with B's parents (Jena & Joe)  

Partner A & B with A's siblings (Tim, John & Tayler)   

Partner A & B with B's siblings (Ashley, Karen & Jim)

 Partner A & B with flower girls (Anna & Ella)  

Partner A & B with A's grandparents (George & Shirley) 

Partner A & B with B's Nana (Shannon)  

Partner A & B with B’s grandma (Helen)

Partner A & B with B’s step-grandma (Nelly) B with grandma (Shirley) and (Carol)  


If you want more tips for your wedding day, guess what? Here's a FREE guide created just for you called "Recipe To a Wedding Day Timeline". Click HERE to snag it for yourself! 

Happy Planning!