Nothing slows down a wedding day like the attempt to herd cats that is family photos.

So often, family photos take more time than is allotted, result in many complaints from family and the couple, and much confusion on everyone’s part. Family photos don’t have to be the wrench in the cogs of a well run wedding day. If you follow a few guidelines, they can be fun, fast, and leave you with more time to take your own portraits or party with your friends.

  1. Get individual family photos (each side with their respective partner) before the ceremony. It gives you some special moments with your family and free up time afterwards!
  2. Build up, then break down! Instead of trying to get groupings in a random order, start with parents of one partner, add siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins, then add everyone on the other side. Take away the first family, and slowly let groupings go in the reverse order! It helps keep everyone organized instead of shouting for random people who thought they were done!
  3. Have a list of every family member and their relationships to make it easier to get people’s attention! There’s nothing quite like your photographer yelling “Hey, you in the shirt” trying to get Uncle Sid’s attention as he picks his nose and scrolls through facebook instead of lining up with the rest of the family.
  4. If you don’t have a wedding day coordinator (and I highly recommend you have one, but that’s a whole other blog post), assign a bridal party member to act as an assistant for your photographer and run after family members who inevitably wander off.
  5. Allow more time for every grouping. So often, photographers get told they have ten minutes in which to capture every family photo possible. A good rule of thumb is about five minutes per grouping. This will also give you a realistic idea as you try to plan for your day of what won’t cut into your party time.
  6. Don’t hold up further relations after your ceremony. Instead, focus on more immediate family and get the other groupings at your reception! There is always time during the reception to capture you and your third cousin twice removed instead of holding them up right after your ceremony. They’ll appreciate it and your photographer will appreciate more time to capture you and your new spouse instead of taking family photos for two hours.