How To Make Family Formals Run Smoothly

August 17, 2021


Your wedding day is just around the corner and going through your wedding to-dos can be overwhelming. Having a checklist though ensures that nothing gets left out and everything runs smoothly on your big day. Family formals are a great way to capture the moment with your loved ones after officially tying the knot. It’s also a crucial part of your wedding photography gallery. I always say that these are the pictures that your family prints and displays in the living room – they are a must. Getting a family formals list over to me before the wedding is one of those items you need to have on your list.

family photo of bride and groom at their wedding in Dubsdread Ballroom in Orlando Florida. Bride and Groom is in the middle of the photos while the Groom's immediate family surround them.

Prepare A List For Your Wedding Photographer

Preparation is key to setting up your family formals for success. About two to three months before your big day, I, as your orlando wedding photographer, will send you an online wedding questionnaire! This is where you can give me the exact shot list for your family formals with everyone’s first names. I do ask that the list is no longer than 20 groupings (anything past that we can grab at the reception). By making me aware of each type of shot you want, it will help make sure this part of your wedding run smoothly on the tight timeline.

Sample shot list:

  • Large group photo (this is everyone: parents, stepparents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, cousins, uncles)
  • Bride & Groom with parents, stepparents, grandparents, siblings Bride & Groom with parents, grandparents, siblings
  • Bride & Groom with each set of grandparents
  • Bride & Groom with parents, siblings
  • Bride & Groom with parents
  • Bride & Groom with siblings
  • Bride with mom
  • Bride with dad

Communicate Ahead Of Time

Before the wedding day, I highly recommend notifying those who you want in your pictures to make themselves available immediately following the ceremony. I suggest letting them know days even weeks leading up to the wedding just to be safe. This may seem like overkill but any little bit of waiting around may shift your timeline down which means less time for those gorgeous photos of just the two of you.

Delegate The Task of Gathering

Trust me, I get it. No matter how much communication happens, with the emotions of the day some family member may forget about family formals. Your incredible team of vendors and this orlando wedding photographer will be on top of communicating with your family. However, most of your vendors are meeting your family for the first time on your wedding day. This means we won’t know who exactly is missing until we call out their name for the photos. Sometimes loved ones slip through the cracks and join the cocktail hour ahead of time. Because of this, I recommend having someone from your bridal party or a close friend be in the know so they can help us gather your family members.

See Karina and Andrew’s wedding gallery here. Location: The Garden Villa in Winter Park, Florida.

Family Formals are for…You Guessed It, Family.

Your ex-coworker’s sister-in-law wants to take a picture with you after the ceremony? Not to worry, everyone will have a change for a photo-op during the reception. Sticking to the shot list we have prepared is a great way to breeze through the family formals. We typically only have time during the cocktail hour to get all the pictures of both your families, bridal party and bride and groom portraits done. Because of this, I highly recommend that anyone outside of the groups mentioned above wait until the reception to grab photos with the two of you. There will be plenty of other opportunities…I promise.

Family formals are a must at weddings. Sticking to a shot list, communicating with everyone ahead of time and delegating will help things run smoothly so you can have more time for you! Planning accordingly and working closely with me as your wedding photographer is a crucial step to making it all happen.

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