Posed family wedding photos are one of those traditions that are not going away (and they shouldn’t) anytime soon.
The wedding day is all about two different families coming together to celebrate two extraordinary people getting married (hey, that’s you!).
In this article we will cover the following:
- Family photos to take on the bride’s side
- Family photos to take on the groom’s side
- How to save time when taking posed family photos on the wedding day.
- How long do family photos take
- A family wedding photo printable download (free PDF)
Some couples get very tense when thinking about doing family photos.
We wanted to find out why, and more importantly, figure out a way to make the entire process a lot easier for you.
We reached out to 30 married couples to find out which part of the wedding day was the most stressful. 24 of those couples (80%) said that family photos were definitely the part of the day that caused them the most stress.
Some of the reasons that we were given are:
- They took way too long
- People were not where they were supposed to be.
- It felt very disorganized
We have helped plan and photograph over 450 weddings. We have seen what works (and what doesn’t work) when it comes to posed family formals.
What would you say if we told you that it is very possible to get your traditional family portraits done in half of the time it normally takes? Well, we can help.
The technique is called people stacking (and unstacking).
We start small (just the couple), build up high (add in family members in groups), then we do the entire process in reverse (you will get all of the details below).
Family Wedding Pictures To Take On The Bride’s Side
We recommend taking your formal family wedding portraits in the order listed below.
We like to get the bride set up so she does not have to move in and out of photos (sometimes it’s hard to get the dress in and out of groups of people). The goal is to move people in and out of photos as little as possible.
Photos don’t take long. Moving people takes the most amount of time.
Move people less times, get your photos done faster. It’s that simple!
By taking your family photos in this order you will save a lot of time. We have photographed over 450 weddings and this system really works.
*First photos to take are a few traditional/formal shots of the bride and groom together (these are the photos that mom or grandma are going to want for the fireplace mantle).
Now the bride and groom are already set up. Time to add in the bride’s family (in this order)
Bride and groom with:
- Parents of the bride (you can either have both of them stand next to the bride, or you can have one on each side of the couple. But once they are there, that is where they will stay for the rest of the photos).
- Now add in the siblings (and any spouses/kids) – the couple and parents don’t move.
- Add in the grandparents of the bride (the couple, parents, and siblings don’t move)
- Add in the extended family members like aunts, uncles, and cousins (you can include spouses and kids too) – Once again, nobody else moves.
Now we remove the groom if you want some family photos with only the bride (many family want this).
For these photos, we keep it to the immediate family with no spouses or kids (but you can change that if you want).
So we also remove the spouses and children. Then we ask the extended family to close in the gaps.
Here we go!
- Parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
- Now we remove the extended family. Nobody else moves. (Photo is of the bride, parents, grandparents, and siblings)
- Remove the grandparents (Parents and siblings don’t move. Take a photo of the bride with her mom, dad, and siblings)
- Siblings step out of this photo (parents don’t move). Take a photo of the bride with her parents.
- Now a photo of the bride with her mom
- Next is a photo of the bride with her dad.
- Some brides also want a photo of just the bride and her siblings.
- A photo of the bride each and each sibling (separately)
*If you want a photo of both sets of parents with the bride and groom, now is the best time to do it.
The bride’s family is done and can head to cocktail hour!
Family Wedding Photos To Take On The Groom’s Side
Now we do the same thing with the groom’s side of the family.
Bride and groom with:
- Parents of the groom (both on the groom’s side or one on each side of the couple. This is where they will stay for the rest of the photos.)
- Add in the groom’s siblings (parent don’t move)
- Now the grandparents (parents and siblings don’t move)
- Add in the extended family members like aunts, uncles, and cousins (including spouses and kids). Nobody else moves.
The bride is now finished with family photos.
We also remove the spouses and kids. You can choose to keep them in this photo. It’s up to you. But since the bride is not in the photo, we typically remove all spouses and kids.
We ask everyone left to close in the gaps.
Here we go!
- Parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
- Aunts, uncles, and cousins are done (nobody else moves). Now take that photo of the groom with grandparents, parents, and siblings.
- Grandparents are done (now take the photo of the groom with parents and siblings).
- Remove the siblings (take a photo of the groom with his parents).
- Take a photo of the groom with his mom
- Now a photo of the groom and his dad.
- Next is a photo of the groom with siblings.
- And finally a photo of the groom and each sibling individually.
That’s it! You are done with family photos.
If you follow that system and listen to the few tips we share below, your family photos will only take 5-10 minutes per side (That is only 10-20 minutes for all family photos including extended family photos).
How To Save Time When Taking Wedding Group Photos Plus A Few Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few ways to save time when planning and taking your family wedding photos:
Designate someone to gather the family and keep them close by
Put someone in charge of the family (someone who knows the family) to help “wrangle” them for photos. There should be one person for the bride’s side and another person for the groom’s side.
This can be a member of the bridal party who knows most of the family. Or it can be another family member. you want to designate someone who has a great teacher voice. Someone everyone will listen to.
Ask your photographer to print out a few copies of your family photo list to give to these family members (or you can print them out).
If your photographer has an assistant, they can be calling up family members as the photographer gets them lined up and ready for the photo.
Put your family photo list together before the wedding day
We recommend making your family photo list at least 1-2 months before the wedding day (ideally right after you have the final head count of guests).
Send this list to your photographer as soon as you make it. This way they can help you budget enough time in the timeline for the photos that you have requested.
You can download our free wedding picture list to give to your photographer. It is a printable PDF checklist. It also has extra spaces to included photos that might be unique to your family situation.
Let your family know about the photo schedule before the wedding day
Tell every single family member on your photo list when and where you will be doing the photos.
If you are doing your posed photos right after the ceremony, have your parents send a message to all of the siblings, grandparents, and extended family who will be in these photos. This one tips alone can save you a lot of time.
Many times photos are missed (or delayed) simply because a few people involved in the photos didn’t know where or when they were needed.
we recommend doing this just a few days before the wedding day.
Send this simple text to anyone you want in the photos:
“Hi (family member),
We are so excited to see you in a few days!
Right after the ceremony, we will be doing a few family photos and we really want you to be in them.
Please stay close by. We will be taking the photos right where we got married.
Our plan is to get them done very quickly so we can all get to cocktail hour.
We can’t wait to see you!
Love, (the couple)“
We have a few special groups of people that we want photos with (college friends, coworkers, etc.). When should we take those photos?
The best time to take wedding group photos with college friends, high school friends, coworkers, or random family photos that were missed earlier in the day is right after dinner before the DJ opens the dance floor.
The best way to do this is to coordinate it with your DJ, photographer, and wedding planner (if you have one).
Figure out the additional group photos that you want before the wedding day (once you have your final guest list). Add the groups to your list (we included a section for this in our free printable checklist and shot list below).
Send your photographer, your DJ, and your wedding coordinator your list and let them know that you want to do these photos right after dinner on the dance floor (or just outside the reception room if your wedding venue has a great location that you want to use). Just don’t go any further than right outside the door. Otherwise it will be difficult to organize.
- Let the photographer and DJ know when you’re ready.
- The DJ will announce each group (one at a time) to the center of the dance floor.
- The photographer will be ready and have his/her lights already set up.
If you follow these tips, these photos will only take 1-2 minutes each.
*Bonus tip – Make sure your partner is there and ready before giving the DJ and photographer the green light. The key is letting everyone know ahead of time. Planning is the key to a stress-free wedding day.
When should we take family photos at the wedding?
The two most typical times to take family photos on the wedding day are right after the ceremony or right before guests arrive if the bride and groom have chosen to do a first look. Any photos that are missed during this time can be taken immediately after dinner at the reception.
Who is included in family wedding photos?
Typically the people included in the family wedding photos are the bride, groom, parents of the bride, parents of the groom, grandparents, and siblings of the bride and groom including their spouses and children. For extended family photos, you can add in aunts, uncles, and first cousins.
How long do wedding family photos take?
On average, family wedding photos take 20-30 minutes. This is for the bride and groom, parents, grandparents, and siblings. Plan to add 10 more minutes if you want to include extended family members like aunts, uncles, and first cousins.
If you found this article helpful, we have also put together a wedding photography must-have shot list. We go over tips on getting great photo results from some of the most important moments of the wedding day.
Should we take our wedding group photos inside the church where we got married, or outdoors at our wedding venue?
If you got married in a church, many couples choose to do the family formals right where they were married. The family is already there, so it’s definitely a time-saver to get them done right after the ceremony.
If you choose to do them at the reception venue, you may run into delays with people parking, using the bathroom, getting lost, etc.
Download Our Free Wedding Family Photo List and Checklist
Include first names with your family photo list
When providing your photographer, wedding planner, and DJ with your family photos list (or group photos list for the reception), list out each group and include the first names of everyone in the photo. This will make it easy to move from photo to photo.
Example: Bride and groom with bride’s parents and siblings (Mark, Jennifer, Chelsea, Brad, and Sarah)
More Helpful Wedding Planning Tips
- Download our free printable wedding photography shot list for the entire day (including getting ready, first look, ceremony, bride and groom portraits, family formals, wedding party and bridal party, cocktail hour, and the wedding reception).
- A great article explaining how long it usually takes to get your wedding photos back from your photographer.
- Check out our wedding planning timeline and checklist.
- If you are looking for songs for your wedding ceremony and/or reception, we have put together this amazing list of almost 700 song ideas for each part of the wedding day.
- Follow us on Instagram for lots of wedding photo inspiration and funny wedding memes.