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Preparing for Family Formals at a Wedding

November 16, 2019

how to prepare for family formals at a wedding who to include how many groups

Family Formals are often overlooked during the planning process of a wedding, but they include the most amount of people.  Planning for family formals can make sure you don’t spend too much valuable portrait time on them, and you don’t forget all the groupings you want to capture on your wedding day.  

family formals at a wedding how to coordinate

Time for photos can end up getting cut pretty short really quickly if you are not prepared with who should be in each grouping, or worse you could forget to take a photo with relatives who had traveled from out of town. About 6-8 weeks before your wedding I’ll send out a questionnaire that will help you decide who you want in your groupings.  Making these decisions well in advance can make sure you don’t forget anyone and that we are able to zip through them quickly on the wedding day. 

Limiting your Groups

It can be hard to limit the number of groups but it’s just something that needs to be done.  I suggest Weisz Brides limit the number of groups to 10. I like to start off with the biggest group and then work our way down from there.  

Here are some ideas for family groupings 

Write the names down

It can be so helpful to have the names of uncles, aunts, grandmas and so on especially for photographers. With everyone’s names written down, I’m able to call out who is next for photos.

Where to take Family Formals at a Wedding?

Most brides choose to take them on the altar.  This is certainly the most traditional place to take them.  I always bring in lighting for these because you just never know how lighting will look in churches, and I like having the option for flashes if the church is dark. 

For outdoor weddings, I search for an area that is in good light, doesn’t have distracting backgrounds, and is easy to get to for elderly guests.  Light is certainly one of the first things I look for.  I want to make sure that no one is squinting.  For larger groups, I will try to get myself up on a taller advantage point. This past year I have taken family formals on hills, decks, boats, and golf courses!

How to get ready for family formals

How to pose?

Posing for family formals can be as traditional or as editorial as you would like. During one of my favorite weddings last year the bride’s mom brought some chairs from home that fit the style of the wedding. We use these chairs to create more of a vouge styled family formals. This was especially handy since we were on a golf course.

One of my favorite ways to pose is to have the moms hold the elbow of their child that is getting married. This gives moms something to do with their hands since often they are some of the only ones without flowers in their hands. This also helps to create a connection in photos.

The biggest thing with family formals is to ensure everyone is able to see the camera, and you as the photographer can see everyone’s face. I always try to double-check the back of the camera during family formals to make sure no one is being hidden behind a head in front of them.

Find a Point Person

I always ask brides to find one person on each side of the family who can be my point person. Generally, an aunt is a great person for this. Their job is to make sure that everyone who is in the next group is here and ready to go. This is where having names written out can be especially helpful!

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