7 Easy Steps to Organising Your Family Photos
By Luke Ellery

23 January 2019

It’s the part of the day that probably excites you the least, but you may want to think about how you’d like to organise your formal family photos. These usually take place immediately after the ceremony, with different combinations of family. Regardless of whether you love or hate your family dynamics, you’ll want to ensure this time is handled quickly and efficiently.

Start with the Group Photo

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Image by Zahn

If you want a photo of everyone at the wedding, the best time to do this is straight after the ceremony. Everyone is still in one place, and it’s a great time to get them before they’ve wandered off after that second glass of champagne!

Once the full group photo has been done, it’s time for the family photos. Some couples like to kick off things with a photo of all the family members from both sides; straight after the full guest photo is a good time to get this done.

Start big and work down.

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Image by Up&Up Drone Photography 

Start with the largest family first - cousins, aunties, uncles, everyone…until you’ve reduced the group down and you’re just left with the parents.

Once the first family is completed you may want to get some photos with both sets of parents, siblings or even both families. Once their photo is taken, the first family is free to join the other guests. If you want to have photos with all your friends too, we recommend splitting up your friends into groups. For example, you might have one photo with your university friends and another with your work friends. Once you've split them up, apply the "start big and work down" rule, if you have a larger group of work friends, start with them. 

Be mindful of the young and old

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If you have elderly family attending or temperamental young children, think about getting them done early on.  After the largest family photos are finished, keep the grandparents if you’d like one on one photos of you and them. Many elderly people can’t walk or stand for too long a time, so be mindful of that.

A Job for your MC

You can’t be everywhere, and seeing as you’ll be in all these photos, you’ll need to assign someone to help coordinate with the photographer. A great person is often your MC or best man.  Failing that, find someone who isn’t afraid to yell and direct people if necessary! Alternatively, a representative from each side of the family can be useful for coordinating the groups. Alecia from By Your Side Wedding Planning recommends someone who is notable in the family, as in, they are easy to recognise and everyone will listen to them. On the topic of having someone helping coordinate the formal photos, give someone the job of time tracking. It is important to make sure you have enough time for the couples shoot and the reception dinner. This person could be the photographer's assistant, an MC, or an on-the-day wedding coordinator. 

Have some photos at the reception instead

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If you can minimise the number of formal family photos, your photographer will be able to get through everyone a lot quicker, leaving more time for your official location photos. If you have a  wider group of friends or distant family, you may wish to have photos with them after dinner, in a more relaxed atmosphere. You can choose to only have formal photos with a handful of particularly important people. If you tell your photographer that you are prioritising a smaller group for formal photos, then they will capture photos of your wider group of friends and family naturally throughout the day. Another way to maximise your post-ceremony time (which should really be dedicated to having fun and your intimate couples shoot in the golden light of sunset) is to "plan to have photos with your immediate family (parents/siblings) pre-ceremony" says Alecia from By Your Side Wedding Planning.

Provide a list to your photographer

Write a list from start to finish of every combination you want. If you’ve followed the tips above it should look something like this.

  1. Group Photo
  2. All family
  3. Special Older people
  4. All of Bride’s Family
  5. One side of Bride’s Family
  6. Other side of Bride’s Family
  7. Bride, Groom and Bride’s immediate family
  8. Bride, Groom and Bride’s siblings
  9. Bride, Groom and Bride’s parents
  10. Bride and siblings
  11. Bride and parents
  12. Bride, Groom and both sets of parents
  13. Bride, Groom and Groom’s parents
  14. Groom and parents
  15. Groom and siblings
  16. Bride and Groom and Groom’s siblings
  17. Bride, Groom and Groom’s immediate family
  18. One side of Groom’s family
  19. Other side of Groom’s family

Be guided by your photographer

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Image by Zahn 

Your photographer will definitely guide and help you in this process. After all, they have far more experience in this than you! You may think you won’t need a list and you can wing it on the day, but there is no harm in being prepared. Every little thing you do to make this part of your day go that little bit smoother will ensure you have more time for your couples shoot and more time to enjoy the reception! 

Edited from an original article by Lydia Martin and Marie Richards