Whether your family and wedding party photos are taken before the ceremony or during cocktail hour, they can sometimes turn into the most stressful part of your wedding day. You know you need them, but at that point everyone is most likely hungry and ready to mingle instead of standing still and smiling for a long period of time. We know how important these photos are and want to share our tips for making them go as smoothly as possible!
Yes, this is obvious, but sometimes people don’t realize how much thought you should put into photos beforehand. We always have our clients make a Must-Have Photo list. This includes not only who they want in each photo, but every combination that the couple wants as well as people’s first names for the planner and photographer. We need specific names so that people know when they are called, instead of just having us call out “The Jones Family”.
Keep Your VIPs Informed
As planners, we send out a VIP schedule to everyone in the family and wedding party so they have a hard copy of exactly where they need to be and when, including for pictures. However, we also know that sometimes people don’t read those schedules too thoroughly before the big day. Make sure your VIPs know that they are needed for pictures, and whether that means they will miss cocktail hour, or they will need to be there before the ceremony in time for them.
Timing Is Everything
What a lot of people don’t realize is how long each picture is going to take. Your photographer or planner has to gather the correct people each time and do different iterations of the same family, and people take time to get settled before they’re smiling and ready. We have learned that every photo takes approximately 2 minutes. This means that if your list of Must-Have Photos is half of one page long, it will take an hour. A full page - 2 hours. Make sure you leave enough time to get every shot you want! You should also make sure, if you’re taking pictures where guests will arrive, that there is at least half an hour in between when pictures are finished and when guests get there. That way the room can be set perfectly and guests won’t walk in on your pictures before the ceremony!
Try To Keep It Small
We understand how important every family member is to the couple, but knowing what we know about timing, it’s best to only include the absolute most important people in this session. Remember, there will be photos of everyone during the reception as well! When you have a very large group of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends around, it gets very loud and difficult for the photographer and planner to gather the right people for each photo. People may even miss hearing their name so they miss their picture anyway!
Keep It In One Place
For the couple, you can go to many different locations if you want, because there are only two of you and it’s very easy to get around. Even with a small wedding party, it’s perfectly fine to travel around a bit to get different shots. But when you bring in all the family or a very large wedding party, it’s best to stick to one area. Trying to move a big group will take up a lot of time, and sometimes older family members have a tough time moving from place to place.
We hope this helps people plan for photos that will have great memories attached to them for a lifetime! If you have any other tips or tricks from your experience, give us a shout in the comments!