Want to know the secrets to quick and easy family portraits on a wedding day?
When I started photographing weddings in 2011, I’ll be honest that family portraits were my least favorite part of the day. But by following these tips every time and guiding all my couples months before the wedding, I’ve got it down and it’s easy peasy--even fun!
1. Write your family portrait list in advance (don't wing it!)
Your wedding day is going to be buzzing with excitement, and quite possibly a handful of last-minute decisions. When couples decide to do family photos spontaneously, without a list, it's tricky to keep track of which combos we've completed and we risks missing something important. A list keeps us organized and minimizes day-of decision fatigue.
2. Rather than listing every possible combination, focus on the ones you and your parents will print for your walls
Not sure where to start? Gather inspiration from the suggestions below. For each combo, I recommend deciding whether you want to include both of you as a couple or just you individually, don't do both. By choosing one or the other, you'll save half the time on your portraits and keep your smiles fresh!
3. Set aside enough time in the schedule, trusting your photographer's recommendation
For nearly all couples, I recommend planning for 30 minutes of family portraits. This allows plenty of time for all the most important combinations, such as the ones listed above. If you'd like photos with extended family, it's generally best to take those separately, using the DJ/MC to call out names.
4. Rearrange the list for maximum efficiency (I handle this for all my couples!)
I optimize all of my family portrait lists to minimize movement and ensure certain family members are finished first. This includes making sure that grandparents and individuals who have difficulty standing for longer periods of time can get their photos done quickly, as well as children with limited patience. If your outfit is difficult to move in, such as a large ballgown or train, I account for that, too.
5. Get all immediate family photos done before the ceremony, including parents, grandparents, siblings/partners/kids
If you're looking to reduce stress on your wedding day, this is one of the best tips I can give you! It's much easier to give your family a start time before the ceremony, before the party gets started. Everyone will be more focused, we'll have more on-site locations to choose from since we don't need to work around other guests, and you won't need to sneak away for portraits during your reception. This also ensures that all of your immediate family members are on-site and ready well before your ceremony. Even on a wedding day, it's common for families to run late, so tell them to be ready 15-30 minutes before photos are actually scheduled to begin.
For more wedding planning tips, follow along on Instagram at #weddingtipswithcaylie!
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My name is Caylie and I'm a Bellingham and Mount Vernon, WA wedding and engagement photographer. I love what I do!