Family portraits will easily be some of the most treasured images from your wedding day. Maybe not in the beginning, but years later you will look back on them and be so glad you have them. They’re what you’ll hang on your walls, hold tight to when you lose a precious loved one, and be the images your grandchildren will look upon for generations to come!
I fully realize that the family portrait part of your wedding day is not really anyone’s favorite part of the day. You’re celebrating and enjoying all the memory making moments of the day only to bring all of that to a stop then forcing everyone to smile at the camera for a solid twenty-thirty minutes of the day. Trust me, I understand. That is why I strive to make it easy going, light hearted, quick, and extremely efficient!
Some brides or parents of the bride or groom might prefer to have their family portraits taken inside or at the ceremony location. This is definitely an option that normally works out just fine if there is room and adequate light. But why be “just fine” when you can make your family portraits really look incredible? What most brides and parents do not understand is that the lighting inside most venues is very dim and typically hard to work with. They would have much more flattering images if they just walked a few steps outdoors. I realize that sometimes this isn’t possible and sometimes the weather does not cooperate. However, in my opinion, if you have an area outside that could work, why not shoot these portraits outside and make them as natural and beautiful as possible!? Here are a few reasons why I think outdoor family portraits are a good idea!
1. You can start them immediately! If you are taking your family portraits after the ceremony, instead of waiting 15-20 minutes for all of the guests to leave the ceremony location while also getting stopped left and right by relatives you haven’t seen in a while, you can gather the family immediately after the recessional out of the ceremony and jump straight into portraits. Of course it’s important to let the bride and groom have a few moments of “Oh my gosh, we’re MARRIED!!!” time alone… but then it’s time to get to work! This saves you time and allows your family to be done with portraits quickly so that they can head to the reception to greet those long lost relatives.
2. Always better lighting! Lighting indoors can often be dim and a bit yellow, depending on the ceremony venue. By choosing to shoot family portraits outdoors in a nicely shaded location, you are guaranteed to have better coloring in your images as well as better light to work with – making everyone look better!
4. More Room! Often the ceremony locations are not set up for larger families and family portraits in mind. There is always more room outside which allows for more flexibility with the portraits!
The key to family portraits is also to keep your portrait list to a minimum and only include your immediate families. That typically includes grandparents, parents (and stepparents), siblings, nieces and nephews. Below is the perfect example of what your family portrait list should look like. It’s not missing any staple combinations, but it is also great for time purposes. These portraits are truly a chance for you to say thank you to the people who have raised you and been there for you and your groom through your relationship and entire planning process!
Basic Example Of A Family Formal List:
- Bride and Groom with each set of parents
- Bride and Groom with mom and dad (together and separately)
- Groom with mom and dad (together and separately)
- Bride and Groom with Brides immediate family – parents, siblings, spouses and children
- Bride and Groom with Grooms immediate family – parents, siblings, spouses and children
- Bride with siblings
- Groom with siblings
- Bride and groom with Bride grandparents
- Bride and groom with Groom grandparents
I would not recommend going any further in the family because this list alone will easily take 20-30 minutes. Sure, it’s nice to get a portrait of each and every close family member, but trust me when I tell you this cuts a huge chunk of time out of your timeline! Not having the extended family there for family portraits doesn’t mean you can’t get a group photo later! I have had multiple weddings where we catch special groups of people at the reception to grab a quick photo, and it’s easy to do! Added bonus: have the DJ make an announcement to gather those specific people for a quick photo!
I highly recommend, and require from my own Bullard Brides, a list of specific groupings you would like photographed during the family portrait time. Every family is different with different dynamics and relationships. That is why it is SO important to provide a portrait list of specific groupings for your photographer, and to communicate with your photographer any particular family dynamics they should be aware of (disabilities, family members that don’t get along, deceased family, step-members, etc). Including your photographer in on your family’s dynamics can help to ease any tension that can easily be avoided if the photographer is made aware beforehand. Having a family portrait checklist will also ensure that your family portraits are captured in an organized and timely manner, keeping everyone in a good mood!
Pro tip: List your groupings not only by who is in them (i.e. Bride and Groom with bride’s parents), but also using names (i.e. Bride and Groom with bride’s parents, Susan and Bob). Having names listed helps get the attention of the individuals needed, making the whole process even more efficient!
I tell all of my couples, family portraits can be one of the most stressful parts of the day. It can really get you out of the “I just got married” feeling quickly if it’s not well planned. There’s always a family member that is MIA, tension among family members, or someone not paying attention. But it doesn’t have to be this way! I highly suggest taking these tips and applying them to your own wedding so that family portraits are simply an extra memory making moment you will look back on fondly!
If you don’t know where to begin with creating your own family portrait list, feel free to snag the checklist below! Save the image or click on the link below to save it as a PDF. Enjoy!