wedding day family photos

7 tips for your wedding day family photos

We all have memories of photo time with our family when we were kids (or adults!).  Often we remember a feeling of boredom: everyone lining up, smiling at the camera… Meh! I certainly have felt that way. 

So when Jelger and I got married (now over 6 years ago!), I didn’t give our wedding day family photos a second thought. Luckily our photographer planned some time for them.

Little did I know that 5 years later I’d go through those photos realizing they contained pretty much the only photo I have of me as an adult, with my grandfather. He passed away and suddenly this one photo became so valuable to me.

Photo of me and my grandfather by Lesley and Adam Photography

Maybe nowadays people take more selfies with their family and with the ever improving phone cameras, they have better quality than the photos we used to take. But still, it’s not the same as a professional photo, on an important celebratory day.

All I’m trying to say is: do the family photos. 😉 

Here are some key tips for wedding family photos that’ll help your to have them go smoothly:

1. Prepare a list

Jelger and I send a list to our couples before the wedding day, to make it easy for them to create the list. But because maybe you’re reading this post and are not one of our clients, we’ll share an example list below, which you can download in pdf here. No need to take every single shot on this list! You can pick and choose. 🙂 

2. Best moment to schedule the photos

In most cases, the best moment to schedule the wedding day family photos is right after the ceremony simply because of logistics!  Everyone is in one place, so make use of this opportunity. Ask your officiant to request family and friends to stick around for photos. 

burnaby mountain family photos

Alternatively if you are having a first look you can schedule the group photos before the ceremony. An additional advantage is that you can choose any off-site location for the family photos. However keep in mind that the bigger the group is, the harder it is to organize. So I recommend that you only get the smaller groups photographed at this time. 

3. Tell your family in advance

It has happened (more than once) that family members quickly took off without knowing they were part of the family photos. Even when the officiant made an announcement! Especially if there’s an open bar. 😉 So take your precautions and tell everyone in advance they are required for the family photos. Regardless of how obvious it may seem (parents etc.).

4. Schedule enough time

Another common issue is underestimating the amount of time required for family photos. Not taking enough time will inevitably cause “less photo time elsewhere” or things starting to run late.

As a rule of thumb we calculate 2-3 min per photo combination. Even if there are 2 people in the photo and it will be faster, it will compensate other photos that take longer.

Last but not least for a HUGE group shot (30 and more people), take 5 minutes.

5. Have a helper (aka wrangler) who knows everyone

Your photographer(s) probably won’t know who aunty Julia is. So if they’re the one(s) trying to locate people, it’ll take them much longer than f.e. your sister or…  Ask a family member who knows most people to assist.

Additionally they can keep an eye on making things look their best (sunglasses taken off, purses are hidden and drink glasses put away).

6. Best location for your wedding day family photos

Often the wedding arch or backdrop of the ceremony is an obvious choice for the family photos. However, be prepared to change things up a bit, because when it comes to photos of big groups it’s all about the light!

If we tell or clients “let’s take them at that bush right there” instead of in front of your arch, we do so deliberately. Our main focus is how flattering the results look (avoiding people squinting into the sun) as well as have a backdrop that doesn’t take away from you and your guests.

Finally make sure that people don’t have to walk too far! Especially when there are elderly guests and/or children.

7. Have fun

Most important remember to have fun! Yes, there’ll be quite a bit of smiling at the camera and it’s a bit more formal than the rest of the day. But with these tips you will fly through the family photos smoothly.

And remember you’re creating some history here: your children’s grandchildren will see these wedding day family photos!