December 10, 2021

Tips For Taking The Best Family Photos At Your Wedding

Weddings bring endless special moments, but they can also bring stress. Because of the time crunch and the number of people involved, family portraits can sometimes be the most stressful part of the day. But they don’t have to be. With a little pre-planning and help, this part of your wedding can be as seamless as possible. We’ve compiled a list of tips from some of our successes and failures when it comes to the family portrait session.

Time is Precious

While on average family photos take 30 minutes, it’s important that you always communicate with your photographer about how much time you think you’ll need for scheduling it into the day’s timeline. The time can vary depending on the size of your family, how many groupings you have, and how organized the family is.

Point Person

To keep things moving, it’s helpful if you designate someone on each side of the family to be a point person for the photographer (mom can be a great option for this role). This person can be the go-between for the photographer and the family, wrangle needed family members, and help if the photographer starts to separate significant others due to height reasons or visual aesthetics.

The Round-Up

One last piece of time-related advice, ask the officiant to make an announcement to the attendees at the end of the ceremony about family photos. They can simply ask family members or those who need to participate with photos to stay and dismiss the rest of the guests to the cocktail hour. This helps make sure you don’t have to go track down Great Uncle Joe from the bar or Cousin Susie from flirting with the Best Man.


Just like when you make a guest list, the family shot list can quickly go from 5 groupings to 50 if you aren’t careful. It’s important that when making your list, you only select family groupings that are important to you.

If you can’t figure out what is important, consider which photos you would want to display in your living room. Also, ask parents because they may have their own list (let’s be honest, usually these family photos are more for mom & dad than they are for the newlyweds). Once you’ve determined the groupings that are priorities, end the list. If you don’t need a picture of you and Great Great Uncle Jimmy Don or Fifth Cousin Twice Removed Betty, then don’t add them to the list. Added photos and groupings can become a waste of time (keep you from getting to the cake!) and it can add more stress as you try to wrangle additional family members and get them into position.

Additional Tips for Making Your List:

  • The biggest thing to remember is the importance of making a list (and making it in advance). Just like Santa, make your list and check it twice to ensure you’re prepared for the big day. Otherwise, on the day of you may have to ask your photographer to “wing it” or just do the “usual” which can also add stress and may mean that someone gets missed.
  • As you make your list, ensure you’re specific about which family members you want in each grouping. Don’t just list “Mom/Dad” but instead list each family member by first name or Mr. & Mrs. Smith. The specifics can help the photographer keep things moving on the wedding day.
  • Make sure you include on the list (and also tell the photographer) if there are any awkward family situations they need to be aware of (i.e. divorces, deaths in the family, animosity, etc.). If Mom & Dad can’t be in a photo together, the photographer needs to know before the wedding day.

Location, Location, Location

Whether you want to have your family portraits at the ceremony location, the reception venue, or an alternate location, it’s important to make these decisions in advance. Be sure to communicate with the photographer about which location you’d prefer, and which time of day works for your timeline.

Additional Tips for Selecting Your Location:

  • If your ceremony and reception are at two different sites and the florist and wedding coordinator will be moving décor from one site to another, it’s important to make sure they are also in the loop about family photos. You don’t want to plan the photos for the ceremony site only to have the flowers move to the reception before you can take the first picture.
  • As you’re considering locations, give preference to natural settings. Often these backdrops can soften the photos. Typically, strong geometric lines and architectural structure behind you for the family photos is not a great idea. That is… unless you want a cathedral vibe. If that’s your preference, be sure to discuss it with the photographer in advance so you can pick the best location to showcase your family.

It’s All About the Light

While these photos often happen directly after the ceremony, it’s also important to keep lighting in mind. Some couples choose to end their ceremony at sunset and scheduling family portraits for that time could mean the golden hour light will go to family rather than bride and groom (and believe me, you want the golden hour light for your photos with your new spouse).

Additional Tip for Getting the Best Light:

  • It’s also important to make sure you have enough daylight for the family photos because natural light is always better than flash photography.


Best Dressed

It may be helpful to ask family members to wear something in a particular color grouping so that no one stands out too much in the photo.  Look for a “what to wear to my best friend’s wedding” post for us in the coming months.


One Last Thing…

Don’t Forget the Pre-Ceremony Time

Most family portraits will take place after the ceremony. However, sometimes pre-ceremony photos can be some of the most meaningful you may take on your wedding day.

Consider some of these options:

  • Generational getting ready photos

  • Dad tying the groom’s tie

  • Mom helping the bride button her dress

  • Last moments with the groom and mom

  • First look with bride and dad


  • Special pre-ceremony time with the parent/grandparents

  • Moments with any little ones

  • Don’t forget beloved family pets

  • Capturing pre-wedding jitters

  • Family prayer time before the ceremony

  • Any last bit of advice


Years after you get married you will look back at your family portraits and cherish the captured moments with your loved ones. This time with your closest family members should bring fond memories, not stressful ones. We hope that these tips can help take some of the stress out of your wedding day.

Contact us to schedule a consultation for your wedding. We’ll be sure to get all the information we need to make your family wedding portrait dreams a reality.

  1. […] helpful if you know you’ll be in any pictures with the bride and groom. Refer back to our “Tips for Taking the Best Family Photos at Your Wedding” blog. By being in the same color family as the rest of the wedding party (and please I beg you […]

  2. […] you read our Tips for Taking the Best Family Photos at your Wedding blog, you already know the importance of scheduling out your family photos. One suggestion in that blog […]

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