Destination Wedding Photography

Heirlooms and Lace


November 4, 2022

Wedding Tips: Family Photos

There is nothing more miserable than standing in a room for an hour for family photos. Especially considering you JUST got MARRIED! If you have ever been to a wedding you know that LONG ass list of family photos feels never ending. I hate seeing a couple look so excited at the start of family photos, slowly lose that real smile and excitement! My goal with this whole post is to take these tips for family photos and take the hassle out of your wedding day! I hope you find this helpful in your planning process!

A combined large family photo in front of the main lodge of Waldenwoods in Howell Michigan
This is a great example of a photo we do early on. Where all the kids are in I would usually also make sure Grandparents are included first as well.

Immediate family for the first inning!

This should be your kids, parents/step-parents, Grand Parents, Great-Grandparents, Siblings, Spouses, and their kids. This section alone can take up to 30 minutes to complete when no one goes wandering off. Keeping the first round focused on immediate family allows us to keep the day moving. It allows me to see a bride STILL excited about the fact she just got married. I can’t tell you how many times I get a three page family photo list and half way through the bride on the day of, she is hating life. Keep this portion short & simple!

Assign someone to help!

You need to put someone in charge that isn’t me (the photographer). They are going to be who I look to, to call out the next set of people for photos. They’re also going to ensure we don’t miss a photo you wanted. The person can’t be anyone who will be in the family photos at any point. This person needs to be someone who knows your families pretty well and can decipher if Brother Tom is standing ready to be in the photo or has left for the reception. Many people don’t know they need to stick around for these. I usually recommend a bridesmaid or groomsman or an Aunt/Uncle. These folks aren’t going to be in my first round of photos typically.

Couple welcoming grandfather in wheelchair to wedding and bride standing with her 93 year old Grandfather who officiated their wedding. Family photos on your wedding day.
Grandpa in the first photo almost didn’t make it. This was one of my favorite moments from Christina + Dave’s Wedding Day. On the right Janel’s Grandfather who was 93 years old officiated their marriage at the Grand Belle in Holly MI. I was an emotional wreck!

List who is who!

Not all families are the same, some have step-parents. For example in my family we have an Amy NOT a step-mother. This is something that is so important to us as photographers. We don’t want anyone to feel as though we didn’t take the time to know who they are and how important they are to the two of you. So for every person on your list, put there actual name. For example Mom – Michelle, Dad – Ken, all the way down the sibling list.

Grandparents + kids go first!

I start with the largest group of people. Meaning if on your side you have one of everything: Great-Grandparents, Grandparents,Parents, Step Parents, Siblings, kids the whole 9 yards. We get everyone in the first shot. Then we move to Great-Grandparents/Grandparents so they don’t have to stand long or sit in the sun long. Next are any with kids because let’s face it they already sat still for a ceremony, they need to run. My motto is get them done, and get them out! Then we move on to parents, siblings, siblings with spouses and so on. I also do photos of you with your family alone, as well as your partner with theirs. I add your partner in along the way in every set as well.

A bride hugs her tearful Grandmother while her Grandfather is drying his eyes with a tissue in the background
Nicole’s Grandparents brought us all to tears when they saw her for the first time. Nicole + Kyle opted to take their immediate family photos before the wedding, so this was the first time they got to see her.

Second inning starts during or after dinner!

If you have a large family like I do, family photos on your wedding day could be a long list. Why not break it up! It is likely your mom & aunts are gonna want all the cousins together. Maybe Grandma is older and all of your moms siblings are together for the first time with them in one place? These kids of photos are for after dinner. Everyone is in one place already, and easy to tell the DJ to head out to meet us. Gives us more space to spread out usually, but also YOU as a couple have had time to take a breathe, relax & enjoy your people. You’ll create a 2nd list for these photos!

No family is perfect, there is usually drama.

This is a more truthful part of the whole family photos at weddings. Not all families get along. Not all families approve the marriages in their family. IF I am being honest this includes my own family. I know that shit happens positive and negative in relationships. However I definitely need to know these things ahead of photos. So if your parents have divorced and they are not on speaking terms and you don’t want a full parent photo, we don’t have to do it. I have been at weddings where parents have argued and mom ended up leaving during photos. I’ve had to be an anchor of support for couples who haven’t had their own parents show up at all! As long as I know ahead of time, I’ll help keep the peace.

Silly family photos. Couple with parents where dad is hugging groom. Large family photo with everyone acting funny. Family photos on your wedding day.

My final thoughts…

Family photos on your wedding day can either be fun or they can be a hassle. They can last 20-30 minutes or they can last an hour. Just try to remember that if you want a long list of photos you may need to ensure you have the time between your ceremony and reception. Your reception may need to start later to accommodate this. You may need to talk with your photographer about adding extra time to your coverage. There may be a chance having a 2nd photographer can also help. These are all things you can talk through over course of the planning process!

I hope you have found these tips for family photos helpful! Hopefully you find you can tackle those lists without guilt or stress! If you happen to be one of the lucky couples who work with me to capture your wedding days, I work with you to create the best lists for family photos! It’s one of the main perks to booking an experienced photographer & former wedding planner!


If you still need to book a wedding photographer I would love to be considered! Please reach out!

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