The key to having a smooth and painless family formal experience is showing up prepared. While most wedding photographers do not typically use a shot list, this part of the wedding day is an exception.
Here are a few ways that we recommend you prepare:
- Meet with your bride prior to the wedding day to help craft the combination list. Most often, your bride isn’t quite sure what she “should” include in her family formal list, so this is an opportunity to go above and beyond to make some recommendations for her. You can also find out whether or not she wants extended family photos or other combinations that may not be typical (such as a god-parent).
- Ask your bride about any family drama that you should be aware of. If mom and dad do not talk to each other, you need to know that before asking them to stand next to each other!
- Organize your list so that you’re simply adding in (or subtracting) people as you go, rather than having an entirely new group of people for each photo. Here’s a sample list we recommend:
Bride with Mom
Bride with Dad
Bride with her Parents
B&G with Bride’s Parents
B&G with Bride’s Parents & Siblings
B&G with Bride’s Parents, Siblings & Grandparents
B&G with Bride’s Grandparents
B&G with both sets of Parents
B&G with Groom’s Grandparents
B&G with Groom’s Parents, Siblings & Grandparents
B&G with Groom’s Parents & Siblings
B&G with Groom’s Parents
Groom with his Parents
Groom with Mom
Groom with Dad
- Print out the list and bring it with you (and a pen!). Even though you’ve already organized your list in a way that is going to be efficient (such as the above list), you’ll most likely go out of order at some point. We recommend crossing the photos that you’ve taken off the list as you go so that you don’t accidentally forget one.
- Designate someone to be in charge of rounding up the next group of people. Most often, this is the second shooter! However, if you are shooting solo or if there is a close friend or sibling of the bride and groom who’s willing to help, that’s a great option as well.
We hope that these tips help you totally ROCK your next family formals! This is a great way to make a really strong impact on the family so make sure that you stay calm and keep a smile on your face. If you want to go the extra mile, go ahead and take couples portraits of the parents, grandparents and any other spouses (without the bride and groom) if you have some extra time. After all, it’s their day, too!