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Wedding Day Family Photos | A Complete Guide

As a PEI wedding photographer, it is my goal to capture all the wedding day family photos that the bride and groom desire.

wedding day family photos

A wedding day is always fast paced and often rushed when doing photos. A good wedding photographer is prepared for the family photos and can have them completed in 20-30 minutes. I always give myself 30 minutes but can often have them done quicker if everyone is cooperating with my instructions.

So how do I achieve a long list of family photos on a wedding day in just 20 minutes? There are a few key factors that go into achieving this!

  • Questionnaire
  • Timeline + Location
  • Name List
  • Assistant
  • Efficient
wedding day family photos

Questionnaire

Prior to a wedding day, I always send the couple a questionnaire. Within that questionnaire, I have them write out the names of the immediate family or those that they want photos taken with. I include a little note to say that any photos with cousins, aunt and uncles can be done during cocktail hour or at the reception.

Also in the questionnaire, I list the different photo combinations that I would typically take and have the option to check which ones they want.

There is also an area of “free text” where they can add any additional combinations that I did not include.

Timeline + Location

After the couple fills out the questionnaire from above, I create a wedding day timeline that outlines my needs in order to capture all of the photos they requested.

The timeline for family photos often looks like this:

  • 30 minutes – Family Photos
  • 30 minutes – Wedding Party
  • 30-60 minutes – Wedding Couple

You will also want to have the location decided prior to the wedding day. I always suggest taking the family photos at the ceremony location. This will save time driving to a new location and possibly losing family members on the way if they get lost.

Name List

Once the questionnaire is filled out, you will want to write out all of the names and have them on a sheet of paper so that you can easily refer to them when you are trying to organize the combinations.

Assistant

I find having an assistant with you on the wedding day to be very helpful. There are many reasons for this (I will write a post on this another day), but one of the most helpful aspects are during family photos. I have my assistant hold the list of names and combinations so that I can easily organize everyone. If they feel comfortable, they could even have the next combination ready for you with the people involved on standby.

Efficient

When I say “Efficient”, I think I mean assertive. Keeping to your timeline can be difficult if the family members aren’t paying attention or just mingling with others they haven’t seen in awhile. That is well and good but if things are running behind schedule or you have a tight schedule, then you need to use your voice to wrangle everyone together for the photos.

On a wedding day during family photos, you will often here me saying this while taking photos of let’s say the couple and one set of parents: “Ok, (names of siblings) you are up next so be ready to jump in here when I am done!”. When they are switching into the photo, I will look to my assistant to see what combination I will do next and continue this dialogue until all combinations are complete.

wedding day family photos

The best advice that I can tell you is to be as organized as possible.

Be sure to check out last week’s post Tips for Taking Sharp Group Photos

** If you are looking to up-level your skills, join me for my FREE 5-Days to Better Photos Challenge **