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Family Formals: 4 Tips to Get Beautiful Pictures of Family At Your Wedding

Family formals are some of the most printed images from your wedding day. Mom, Grandma, and even those extended family members you may not see all that often will want their own copy. But often these family pictures are rushed, stressful, and taken in one of your least favorite photo locations of the day. With a bit of planning, you’ll be happy to know family formals can actually be some of your favorite images of your day!

Family Formals - Summit Hills Country Club Wedding

1. Set Your List in Advance
A good photographer will work with you to determine which groupings are important to you BEFORE your wedding day. This enables your photographer to take the pictures in the most efficient order, and it will ensure you don’t have to remember all of those groups on your wedding day! We typically send out a recommended list in advance for you to start from, and we ask in advance if we should be sensitive to any family situations (i.e. people who won’t be present or won’t want to be photographed together, etc.).

2. Double Check Your List with Parents
If you have a family member who might be prone to making special picture requests on your wedding day (you know the one!), save yourself some stress and simply go over the list with them in advance. That way if they have group pictures to request, you can either privately explain to them that the timeline won’t allow for the additional pictures OR you can get the additional requests to your photographer so they can factor in an appropriate amount of time to capture everything beautifully!

3. Consider Taking Immediate Family Pictures BEFORE the Ceremony
Traditionally, family formals are taken immediately following the ceremony inside the church or ceremony venue. It is typically dark and everyone is rushing to finish so they can get to the reception and have fun! We often recommend sharing a first look, as one of the perks of doing so is that you can avoid some of the stress of cramming a large chunk of family pictures into the 20-30 minutes right after your ceremony. If you plan to take pictures with your immediate family prior to the ceremony, you can take them outside in softer natural light and make time to do several variations with the same people in addition to the whole group. For example, you may take a picture with your whole family but also grab individuals of you with each of your grandparents, parents, and siblings. These are awesome for when you want a beautiful picture of you and your mom to print for Mother’s Day or a fun picture of you and your brother when you’re bragging on his exciting new promotion. Our couples cherish the pictures of their immediate family members, so it just makes sense to ensure we can take them in the best lighting and plan enough time to get all the variations you want!

4. Tell Your Family in ADVANCE When To Be Picture Ready
If you decide to do some or all of your formal family pictures after your ceremony, remind everyone you want in the pictures not to go anywhere! One easy way to do this is to remind people at your rehearsal when and where they are needed for family formals so it is fresh in their mind the next day. You can also send them an email. Forward the timeline along to anyone who might need it, and don’t hesitate to put your maid of honor or an immediate family member on the job of gathering family members for pictures on your wedding day! If you’re in a rush to make it to your cocktail hour or reception, you can even do some of the larger groups at the reception if you prefer. The DJ can announce the groups, we can take the pictures quickly, and you can all get back to partying!

So often, family formals can feel like an obligation. With a little bit of planning, they can be pretty painless… and you may be left with your new favorite photo of you and your dad, a photo you’ll treasure forever of your grandma at your wedding, or a professional photo of you and your little sister who grew up to be your best friend.

Groom with Dad and Brothers at Eden Park Cincinnati

Want more wedding tips? Learn how to choose the perfect getting ready location or get our best engagement session style tips!

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