Family formals are a time dedicated to formal portraits of immediate family. They are the boring part of wedding day but most often, these are the photos that get framed and hang on walls for generations to come. 

1) Have a plan. Family formals tend to take longer than expected depending on the size of your family. It can be like herding cats. Be sure your family is aware that you are doing pictures after the ceremony and to not wander off. 

2) Make your photographer aware of any delicate situations Coming from a rather mixed family myself, I am well aware that the conventions below do not fit every family! Every clan is different and has different people that qualify as “family”.  Below is what “traditional” formals look like for only immediate family. If you want to add young children, step parents, uncles/aunts, cousins or dear friends, please ADD THAT IN and follow the format I have followed. Note that larger groups take longer to coordinate. After this is filed out, we will talk timing! Please take the time to make me aware of delicate family situations: recent deaths, divorces, or other facts that should be brought to light! 

3) Make a list. Below is my list that includes immediate family ONLY. If you need to include aunts, uncles or cousins you can choose to do this here OR have the DJ call out for a photo on the dance floor. Adding names is also extremely helpful 

Bride (or “Partner 1”)

  • Bride, Brides Grandparents (+ Groom)

  • Bride, Brides Grandparents, Brides Parents, Brides Siblings (+ Groom)

  • Bride, Brides Parents, Brides Siblings (+ Groom)

  • Bride, Bride’s Parents (+ Groom) (Just mom, Just dad)

  • Bride, Brides Siblings (+ Groom + Significant Others)


  • Bride, Groom, Brides Parents, Grooms Parents


Groom (or “Partner 2”)

  • Groom, Grooms Grandparents (+ Bride)

  • Groom, Grooms Grandparents, Grooms Parents, Grooms siblings ( +Bride)

  • Groom, Grooms Parents, Grooms Siblings (+ Bride)

  • Groom, Grooms Parents (+ Bride) (Just mom, Just Dad)

  • Groom, Grooms Siblings (+Bride + Significant Others)

4) Have a point person. Be aware that I have not met your family so I don’t immediately know who your Aunt Shelly is. Have a bridesmaid or family member who knows the main players help with the list. 

5) Choose a shady spot with nice light. If you are up for shooting family formals outside, weather permitting, those make the best portraits. Church lighting can be fine but know that it tend to be more yellow. (I love shooting portraits outdoors because they tend to be more natural and the lighting is better)

6) Allow for the “iPhone” picture. It is going to happen. An uncle Bob will want his cell phone shot. To avoid eyes wandering to multiple places, I allow one iPhone shot per grouping if really necessary.