March 10, 2022

How do we organise family photos at my wedding?

FILED IN: Wedding Tips

How long do we need for family photos at my wedding, and how do we organise it to make sure things run smoothly? Unlike the rest of the day, family photos don’t have a lot of artistic merit. What they do have is a tremendous amount of historical significance and as a result, they are a very important part of the day. To this end, my goal with family photos is to get them done as quickly and efficiently as possible to allow everyone to get stuck into the canapes and drinks as quickly as possible!  

The Four Rules

There are four simple rules I encourage my couples to use which allows us to whip through the photos in double quick time – generally, we can take about 1 group per minute, so if we have 15 configurations and are well organised we can usually take these photos in around 15 minutes. 

1) Think about who you want in the family photos and what groups you want them in before the day and write a list. The list should include specific names rather than simply “cousins” as you don’t want anything to be ambiguous on the day. If your parents are separated you’ll need to consider which configurations of parents and step-parents you want photos of before the day rather than in the heat of the moment. Likewise, if your siblings have new partners that may or may not be on the scene years from now, you should decide in advance how they will be involved in the photos – one idea is to do a family shot with partners and one without.

2) Give the list to someone (or 2 people, one for the bride’s and another for the groom’s side) in the lead up to wedding – this is your photo captain and they are very important. The ideal scenario is while I’m taking a photo of a group the photo captain is sorting out the next group so we’re not wasting time between photos. An ideal photo captain is someone who likes organising people, has a loud voice and who knows who most people are (although 2 out of 3 would make a very good captain).

3) Tell people that they are expected to be in the family photos and that they will be held shortly after the ceremony and immediately after the group photo (this is a good job to outsource to your parents). The most common delay in family photos is when a key member suddenly disappears and everything stops until they are found. It’s especially important to tell people they’re in the photos when the ceremony and reception are in different places, the last thing you need is grandma driving to the reception when she’s meant to be getting her photo taken with you!

4) Consider the order of the photos, for instance, start with the Bride’s side first and do all those photos before starting photos of the groom’s side. Or the other way round. Just don’t go back and forth. Also start with the biggest group first and work down to the smallest (usually the B&G with parents). However, if there is anyone with mobility issues it’s generally good to take all their photos early on in one hit, we want to avoid anyone with a walking frame having to get up and down a number of times for different groups. There’s no perfect solution to balancing the order of the groups, just give it some thought.

This post is part of a series that answers questions Adelaide wedding couples may have about their wedding. Weddings can be a bit confusing if you’ve never been in one before (or even if you have), so I’m using my 14+ years of experience as an Adelaide wedding photographer to demystify the whole process. The other posts in the series can be seen here, topics include:

How to get natural-looking wedding photos – I hate having my photo taken!

How much time do we need for photos?

Why weddings run late (and how to avoid it)

Do people still get wedding albums these days?

(I haven’t actually finished writing all these posts as of now, but over the coming weeks I hope to have them up and running)

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