When it comes to weddings and family dynamics, there are often a few contentious relationships present. Combine this with the high emotions of weddings and capturing family photos can become a mission. So why even bother with family photos? Because there’s a large chance you’ll regret not having at least one snap with your entire family in it, and you can’t recreate that moment. Because we know it can be a challenge and we want your day to run as smoothly as possible, here are seven ways to help make your family-photos easier.
Keep your photographer in the loop
If there are any awkward relationships within the family (family-feuds, messy divorces etc.) inform your photographer ahead of time and try to provide photos of those family members. This way your photographer is already aware of who to avoid pairing together in the group shots or more intimate snaps.
Inform the family
To ensure your family and close friends don’t run off too quickly, let them know in advance that family photos will be taken immediately following the ceremony. This can be done with a quick text or email blast a few days before and ask your celebrant or officiant to announce family photos at the end of the ceremony - just in case someone forgets!
Don’t overdo the combinations
Everybody’s family is different and many are quite large - that’s cool! But to keep things flowing and to help you get the reception as soon as possible, try to keep the family photo combinations to 10. This isn’t the time to get individual photos with every couple or friend who came along: these can be taken at the reception and will feel more comfortable and casual. Family photo-time is to capture the more formal photos that Grandma and Mum will hang on their photo-wall and point out to guests over dinner.
Start from biggest to smallest
It’s much easier to wrangle a large crowd immediately and slowly allow them to disperse than it is to bring people back from the bar or toilets. Start with a group photo of all the attendees immediately following the ceremony and receiving line. From there, drop to more intimate groups. For example, the groom’s extended family (including great-uncles/aunts, great-grandparents and great-nephews and nieces), followed by the immediate extended family (grandparents, aunts/uncles and cousins), immediate family (parents, siblings and partners and their children) and so on. You can then have the bride and groom with just the parents or just the siblings as well.
Have a wrangler ready
Having someone who can project their voice or direct with a microphone is an absolute life-saver. This person should be provided with a list of those you’d like in group or family photos; they can then call out these names and direct your guests to join (or leave) the photograph. This person can be a friend or a wedding coordinator (I wouldn’t recommend it be a family member as they’ll be in the photo!).
Location location location
In large groups, it can be difficult to ensure everyone is seen in the photo depending on your chosen location. If possible, select a location that offers different levels - such as steps, a stage or a sloping hill - to maximise the likelihood of everyone being photographed. If you’re working with a flat surface, consider having chairs available for some guests and asking younger members - such as children or teenage gentlemen - to kneel or be seated on the ground. Remember, if you can't see the camera, the camera cannot see you!
Remember to schedule enough time
If you have a quality wedding planner and coordinator, they’ll already consider and factor this in. However, if you’re going full DIY, remember to allow for at least 30 minutes in the schedule for family photos. People laugh or get distracted and forget to smile all at the same time consistently. It will take a few tries to capture one photo and if you’re having 10 or so combinations, 30 minutes should be the minimum time allotted. If you finish early, great! More time for couple portraits or to have drinks with your guests. Better to be running early for cocktails than late for dinner.
When it comes down to it, any quality photographer will be able to work with whatever you choose and have available. But to really help guarantee your perfect photos, the above tips are a great place to start.
Until next time, keep making your special moments unforgettable x