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How to Plan Your Formal Family Wedding Photos

One of the most frequently asked questions I get asked by couples is how much time should they set aside for the family wedding photos. Luckily, there is a really easy way to figure it out.

Planning how much time you need for family photos should follow these rules:

  • Plan three to five minutes for smaller groups (5 or less)
  • Plan five to ten minutes for larger groups (5+ people) and smaller groups with children or anyone who might need some extra time

That’s it – that is the magical equation for figuring out how much time to set aside for family photos on your wedding day.

Wedding Family Photos

I also have a general flow to family photos that will also help the time move along.

I usually start with one large family photo – both the bride & the groom’s families together = 10 minutes

Then we’ll do the bride and groom with one side of the family and shuffle people in and out as the photos proceed.

Let’s assume, each person has a 4 person immediate family and one set of grandparents. The family photo line-up would look like this:

  • Bride & Groom with brides entire family = 10 minutes
  • Bride & groom with brides’ parents = 3 minutes
  • Bride & groom with brides grandparents = 3 minutes
  • Bride & groom with siblings = 3 minutes

Total time to set aside (rounded up) = 30 minutes

And then we switch sides and repeat for the groom’s side of the family, which would be another 30 minutes.

You can also use that rule when figuring out how long for the bride or groom alone with their own family.

Using the same family scenario from above, that would look like:

  • Bride with whole family = 10 minutes
  • Bride with immediate family (no grandparents) = 7 minutes
  • Bride with mom = 3 minutes
  • Bride with dad = 3 minutes
  • Bride with both parents = 5 minutes
  • Bride with grandparents = 5 minutes
  • Bride with grandma= 3 minutes
  • Bride with grandpa = 3 minutes
  • Bride with siblings = 5 minutes
  • Bride with each sibling = 3 minutes

Total time (rounded down) = 45 minutes

I choose to use the lower or upper end of the rule times based on the number of people and then just rounded the time down to something that was close to the total amount of time.

If you have small children, or a family member who needs a bit of extra time, you should choose the upper limits of rule.

All of my wedding packages include two photographers, which really helps in utilizing the amount of time we have for photos. Because there are two photographers, we can usually half the amount of time required, as both photographers are available to take family wedding photos.

In addition to setting aside enough time, there are a few other things we can plan to help make sure family photos go smoothly.

  • Schedule family photos after the ceremony. Scheduling your family photos immediately after the ceremony helps keep people on time. No one leaves and no one loses track of time while waiting for photos.
  • Choose a photo location close to the ceremony location. I also always pick a spot for family photos that is very close to the wedding ceremony or a pre-determined location making it easy for everyone to know where to gather.
  • Schedule your single family photos before the ceremony. I’ve talked about this before because this is still one of my favorite wedding tips. All those single family photos (groom with his family & the bride with her family) that need to be done can often be done at the getting ready location before the ceremony. This leaves only the couple/family photos to be done after the ceremony and it will be feel much shorter for the families while waiting.

Most importantly – relax. It is my job to make sure they go smoothly for everyone. As long as you set aside the right amount of time for your family photos, I’ll take care of the rest.

If you have any other questions about how to plan your wedding photos, send me an email or leave a comment below.

Family Wedding Photos

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