Picture Perfect 3 ~ Family Photos

Approximate time:
30-60 minutes

I hate to say it, but no matter how prepared a photographer is, they'll still need your help the most during the family photos. You will have a specific amount of time set aside for family and formal photos (we'll talk about the formals in the next installment), and family photos can easily eat up a lot of that time if you're not careful. Here are some tips to make this time run more smoothly.

The ceremony ends, and you have dozens of family members, many who may not have seen you in years, milling about, chatting, socializing. Usually there will be a receiving line (often impromptu), with lots of hugging and handshaking going on. The problem is, you've probably planned on a time for people to hang out and socialize, and you've paid for a space in which to do this: the reception.

To prepare for family photos, you'll want to consider three things:

1) A plan

Before the wedding day, think about who you're going to want in the family photos, and even get an idea of which combinations of people will be in various photos. You don't need to worry too much about the location of the photos, since the photographer should be able to find the best spot, but he/she won't know your family, so it's up to you to sort out the contents. As a side note, this spot will likely be purposefully separated from the rest of the wedding guests so that it's less crowded and more easily managed.

Your plan doesn't need to be super-detailed, but as long as you have a good idea of how things should play out, and which family members you'll need to combine groups (and which groups need to be kept separate for...reasons), you'll save yourself a lot of confusion, and it will make the next step easier:

2) Advance notice

As much as you might be enjoying this time, it's good to keep in mind that many of these family members currently congratulating and well-wishing you will soon be needed for family photos. While you're greeting and talking in your receiving line, feel free to let people know when and where they will be needed for photos. This will potentially save you from having to send the best man running to find your wandering Aunt Flo before the picture taking can begin.

Even better than this is when people already know ahead of time where they're expected to be. This can be accomplished by putting a note in the program, or by appointing someone other than yourself to go around immediately before or after the ceremony to let everyone know. But just keep in mind, there will almost always be at least one person who doesn't get the memo!

3) Start big

Begin with the biggest family photos, and work your way down to the smaller groups. This way you can let the people who won't be in a lot of the pictures go about their business, leaving you with a smaller group of people to manage. Also focus earlier on the family members that you don't want standing around for too long: the grandparents and children. The quicker you get them back to what they were doing, the happier they will be. Your siblings, friends and parents can wait and stand around a little longer. They'll be okay.

Family photos can take anywhere between ten minutes and an hour, depending on how smoothly everything goes. Once you've squeezed everyone in, you can get into the limo/jeep/unicycle-brigade and head off to your formal photos site (and the next installment of this series).