Now, I know it’s way easier said than done, however, family formals can be done quickly, efficiently, and painlessly. If you’re not sold just on that sentence, what are you waiting for?! Painless family formals? If that’s something you’re interested in, keep reading!
1. Narrow It Down
As a general rule, I recommend that my couples narrow down their family formals list to immediate family members only. That usually includes parents, grandparents, and siblings + your siblings’ spouse and children if they have any. If a sibling has a serious boyfriend or fiancé, that counts! By narrowing it down to immediate family, family formals can usually be knocked out in 15-30 minutes! *Hint* If you have other family members that you want photographed with, let your photographer know and we’ll make time to grab that photo at the reception!
2. Nominate a People Wrangler
It’s a very glamorous job! This person is usually family (an aunt or cousin) or a very close family friend that knows a majority of the family involved in the family formals. This person’s job is to gather the selected people involved and direct them back to where the family formals are being taken. Typically, we meet outside the venue or right by where the ceremony took place.
3. Build More Time into Your Timeline
If you’re concerned about how long we have to photograph the family formals and you want to ensure that there’s enough time to also photograph the bridal party and get couple photos (especially if you opt out of a first look), you should build in at least an hour and a half AFTER the ceremony ends into your timeline.
For example, if your ceremony is at 4 pm and will last for 15-30 minutes, plan on family formals starting sometime after 4:30 to allow time for guests to leave the ceremony location to go to the reception. Cocktail hour would begin between 4:30 and 5 pm and should run until 6 pm to give us enough time to photograph all of the portraits you will want! As a rule, I estimate that family formals should take at least 30 minutes depending on the number of people involved.
4. Give Family a Heads Up
I always find that family members are much willing and available when they’ve been told in advance that they’re going to be in family photos. Make sure you tell everyone involved – even bridesmaids and groomsmen – that they are expected to be in some family photos and to not disappear after the ceremony. If you give them advance notice, it’ll be less difficult to track them down later!
5. Extra Shots at the Reception
If there are additional family members that you want photographed with (godparents, cousins, aunts/uncles, etc), please let your photographer know in advance. Better yet, give them a list! That way we can make time for it in between the events at your reception and will hopefully happen long before people start to leave and are grabbing you to say their goodbyes.
It’s pretty safe to say that family formals is the one part of the wedding day that a lot of couples dread. On the flip side, it’s one of the few events occurring during a wedding day that pretty much ensures parental happiness. For a lot of people – myself included – family is really important and what better way to honor family than to dedicate a few minutes of the day to documenting those portraits?