Wedding Wednesdays with Em Series | Lynchburg Wedding Photographer
Today I am sharing this Wedding Wednesday with Em post on September 11th and I thought this topic would be a great reminder for my couples! Family formals are so important especially when days like today remind us all to love and appreciate those closest to us! However, in the wedding world, family formals have a bad rep and are a dreaded part of the day! I know we all have crazy family members but they are family. My thought is, if they are there at your wedding, then I know they mean something to you!!
James and I learned real quick that if family formals are not organized things can get REALLY out of hand. So maybe this is why people are not a fan of this part of the wedding day? We have asked our own family and previous families what they liked about their family portraits and what was missed that they wish they had. Their feedback was so helpful and we gathered up all this information to make our family formals portrait time very productive, easy, and quick!
As a bonus I included my Family Formals Cheat Sheet at the end of this post!!
The first secret to family formal success is creating a list. I know that was anticlimactic but its super easy and really the key to our success! I do not expect the bride and groom (or their mothers) to remember all of their family and come up with all the different combination of photos ON THE WEDDING DAY. That creates a stressful situation and all the pressure is on them to “include” everyone.
This list is created about 3-4 weeks before the wedding day. I give my couples a great start to their list by providing basic groupings but then with their help we finalize all the combinations of people. This list has received a final “ok” by my couple weeks before the day when they can think straight and have no pressure. If there are some last minute edits to the list we can roll with the punches on the wedding day, thats no problem.
I know that this day is important for everyone! So if you are a part of the family and want a specific photo taken, (doesn’t even have to be with the bride and groom!) don’t be shy! Grab one of us during the reception!! That is what we are here for and we won’t mind at all. :) This actually is leading to my next point.
Family formals time is really saved for IMMEDIATE family only:
Parents, Siblings (& their kids), and Grandparents
Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, etc. can still have photos with the couple! However, we are usually racing the sunset and need to make sure bride and groom photos are finished before grabbing these family photos. That is why I recommend setting aside time during the reception (usually after your group has finished eating). The only way extended family photos can be taken before the reception is if the bride and groom share a first look! This allows the couple to make sure they receive beautiful portraits with each other without rushing during family photos. The first look timeline usually allows about 15 minutes extra after the larger family formals time to get some bonus golden hour portraits!
Another secret behind our family formals are that we call your family out by NAME. When making this list we don’t have “bride’s grandparents on her mother’s side” yikes that would awful…. instead we say "John & Nancy”. When your group of family is all standing aside they know without a doubt who I need next for the photo. I am with your loved ones the entire day and feel like one of the family usually so calling your grandma by her name isn’t weird for us!
This is probably the most dreaded part of family formals:
The awkward situations that involve divorced or separated couples!
I know this is a sensitive topic and we don’t take this situation lightly! If at all possible, we split family formals up to avoid any awkward situations. We have fortunately never had any fights or yelling matches break out during family formals… but we have heard stories!!! I just ask my couple to be smart about the combination of photos because they know them better than we do. Weddings also have a way to bring out the best in people (usually haha) so just be very honest with us and we will do all we can to make this part of the day quick and easy!! :)
BONUS FAMILY FORMALS CHEAT SHEET!!!
This list just IMMEDIATE family photos. This list will typically take us about 20-30 minutes on the wedding day. I hope this is helpful!! :)
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents, Grandparents (who are present on the wedding day), Siblings- (Include their children if they have them)
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Grandparents (each set separately)
Just Grandparents (each set separately)
Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents
Bride with Parents only
Bride’s Parents only
Just Bride with Mom
Just Bride with Dad
Bride and Groom with Bride’s siblings- (Each set, include their children if they have them)
Bride with just Siblings- (No children in this one if they have them)
Bride and Groom with Groom’s Parents, Grandparents (who are present on the wedding day), Siblings- (Include their children if they have them)
Bride and Groom with Groom’s grandparents (each set separately)
Just Grandparents (each set separately)
Bride and Groom with Groom’s Parents
Groom with Parents only
Groom’s Parents only
Just Groom with Mom
Just Groom with Dad
Bride and Groom with Groom’s siblings- (Each set, include their children if they have them)
Groom with just Siblings- (No children in this one if they have them)
With "first look" brides we can typically fit in these photos as well because we have more time to set aside for these family formals. If these groupings are important to you please reconsider doing a first look!! :) Otherwise we will need to set aside 20 extra minutes during the reception for these:
Photo of each individual family - Each sibling’s family, Mother of the Bride’s family including aunts, cousins, etc.
Bride and Groom with Mother of the Bride’s side of the family
Bride and Groom with Father of the Bride’s side of the family
Bride and Groom with Mother of the Groom’s side of the family
Bride and Groom with Father of the Groom’s side of the family
Until next time,