Tips on Making Beautiful Wedding Family and Friend Formals
Each and every wedding is unique!
How many opportunities do you ever get to have photographs of EVERYONE you love around you, not many!
Capturing formal family and friend group portraits during weddings can be very stressful, but, this is where many wonderful wedding memories are captured and preserved. It is a precious way for a bridal couple to remember their special guests for years to come. So, the challenge remains for us, as the wedding photographers, to ensure that the time allocated, (normally about 30 minutes) for these formals is spent efficiently and as drama-free as possible.
The best way to do this is COMMUNICATION!
Communication with the bridal couple and communication between the couple and their family and friends - keeping everyone informed will help to gather people efficiently. Also, ensure that everyone understands the group dynamics between guests, e.g. divorced parents, step families, etc.
Also, remember, we are not going to know everyone at your wedding, make sure we prioritize your list and appoint a 'runner' - someone who knows both bride and groom's family and friends to assist with the smooth transition between groupings. This ensures that the guests are waiting and ready and can be photographed as quickly as possible for you and your bridal party to join in your celebration! Sit down with your fiancé a few months before the wedding and work out who you want in each shot, be realistic, and ask yourself why you want these photos, will they go in the album, the frame, the wall? And if not, don't request it!
All formals are very personal with many different dynamics dictating portrait lists. Make sure we have a list of all the formals you would like to add to a wish list! It is very important to be aware, however, that the photographer can only record what is in front of them.... if a family or friend is 'missing-in-action', that grouping may not be complete or included.... our bridal couple portrait is the only portrait we guarantee - all other formals on the list are part of the 'hope to have' for the final album.
Also, it is important to remember that weddings and events sometimes take on a life of their own.... with many different situations changing as the event unfolds. Weather, lighting, public venues include private parties and individuals in your background, missing guests intended to be included, timeline for wedding disrupted, the list is endless. :(
Keep in mind too, you do not have to include every single guest into a formal session. IF you are having a small wedding, it is sometimes fun to attempt to include one large wedding guest group immediately following the ceremony where everyone can gather before heading off to the reception. This is a wonderful opportunity for the photograph to include all your guests, but make sure you communicate this to your guests in your wedding day schedule during the ceremony. We will also be able to inform you if this is possible at your event, we normally make sure we can be higher than the group, church steps are a great vantage point and produce a very successful portrait.
Tips on creating your formals list:
Grow from large to small: Start out with your largest group of people and narrow it to your smallest group.
Make sure you include all the grandparents and older guests first. They tire easily - try to have some seating to accommodate them close by.
This is an opportunity to make some wonderful new updated family portraits, but be aware this is a wedding not a family portrait session! All groups need to include the bride and/or the groom! You only have 30 minutes for these portraits.
Please include your relationship and the first name of every person in each photograph. You don't have to include your own names :) e.g. Bride + Groom + Bride's Parents (John + Joan)
There should be a list of portraits before the wedding included in your communication with us: e.g.
Bride + Bride’s Parents, Bride + Bride’s Mom, Bride + Bride’s Dad
Groom + Groom’s Parents, Groom + Groom’s Mom, Groom + Groom’s Dad
Keep your lists small and simple!
Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents
Bride + Groom + Groom’s Parents
Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents + Groom's Parents
Bride + Groom + Bride's Grandparents
Bride + Groom + Groom's Grandparents
Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents + Bride’s Siblings + Bride’s Grandparents
Bride + Groom + Groom’s Parents + Groom’s Siblings + Groom’s Grandparents
Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents + Bride’s Siblings + Bride’s Grandparents + Groom’s Parents + Groom’s Siblings + Groom’s Grandparents
Bride + Groom + Bride’s Siblings
Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents + Bride’s Siblings
Bride + Groom + Groom’s Siblings
Bride + Groom + Groom’s Parents + Groom’s Siblings
Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents + Bride’s Siblings + Groom’s Parents + Groom’s Siblings