Tips for Family Formals

Family formals are often described as the most stressful part of a wedding day, but today I’m here to tell you they don’t have to be!! With some planning and a little effort, it’s totally possible to make this part of your day a breeze. Read on for my best tips for family formals!!

1.       Have a discussion ahead of time on which photo combinations are important to you and your family. If you can, keep your family formal list SMALL. Many couples opt to only include parents, siblings and grandparents, but of course everyone is different. The idea is to keep portraits quick and fun. Plus, you can always squeeze in a few more photo combinations at your reception!

2.       Make a detailed list for your photographer. I always ask for this from my couples because it saves so much time on your wedding day! Include not only names, but titles (for example: bride’s dad Ron), and a full list of each combination you’re wanting photographed. Also be sure to note any divorces, deaths or other sensitive family situations that your photographer should be aware of. 

3.       Let family members know if they’ll be in photos and when. This is probably the most important step! If you’re doing a first look, is family needed right afterward? Are they to stay at the church following the ceremony? They key here is to be very clear on who’s needed and when, and inform them before the wedding day! I can’t tell you how many times Uncle Bob has disappeared to cocktail hour, not knowing he was required for family photos.

4.       Give yourself enough time. When putting together your wedding day timeline, I suggest 30-60 minutes for family formals. This way you won’t be stressed to get in all the combinations you’re hoping for!

5.       Delegate a person to “corral” when needed. This point person is NOT in family formals, but knows everyone who is. Think of your most enthusiastic friend or cousin, the reliable one who gets stuff done. Your photographer will talk as loudly as they can, but having another set of eyes and ears on the group is so helpful in making sure no one is missed!!

To sum it up, plan as much as you can beforehand, and then rest assured in knowing you hired an amazing photographer who’s got your back! Things will work perfectly and you’ll end up with images you LOVE!



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Rachael Kazmier is an…


Snapshots from a destination wedding photographer & lifelong traveler.