Gone are the  days of spending most of your wedding day looking straight at the camera in every photo. Now, most couples prefer a more photojournalistic or candid approach to their wedding day. This enables the bride and groom to look through their photos and see raw emotions and real moments, not staged shots. While the style of wedding photos may have changed in the past 20 years, the traditional family photos are still here to stay. As much as you may love to skip this part of the day, I promise you, years from now these photos will mean the world to you! It’s no secret that formal photos aren’t exactly anyone’s favorite part of the day, but with a bit of pre-planning you can get through your family photo list in record timing (and leave plenty of time to enjoy cocktails!).

Prior to your wedding, reach out to any family members that you plan to involve in formal photos. Be very specific on the when and where – this is crucial. It’s also best to request that smoke breaks be held off for a bit. You don’t want to have to waste time searching for a family member who wandered off. It will also help to appoint someone who is not in the bridal party to assist with gathering those needed for photos.

To get you started, here are the common wedding photo combinations:

Bride and groom with parents
Bride and groom with  immediate family
Bride and groom with  parents and grandparents
Bride and groom with grandparents
Bride with her grandparents / Groom with his grandparents

*when time permits, couples sometimes also choose to have these groupings:

Bride with parents / Groom with parents
Bride with parents / Groom with parents
Bride with siblings / Groom with siblings
Bride with immediate family / Groom with immediate family
Bride with  parents and grandparents / Groom  parents and grandparents
Bride with her grandparents / Groom with his grandparents

Bridal Party

Bride with bridesmaids (group and with each individually)
Groom with groomsmen (group and with each individually)
Bride and Groom with entire bridal party

Bride and Groom

Bride and groom alone (It is best to invite the  family and bridal party to enjoy cocktail hour at this time, to help make your photos more intimate and timely)
Groom alone
Bride alone

Extended family, cousins, aunts, college friends (During Reception)

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Family formals do not have to take an extensive amount of time, however this is only possible if you are organized beforehand. For very large families and/or more than 10 group photos, it’s best to save some of the extended family shots until the reception so that family portrait time will not interfere with your bride and groom photos and you will not keep your guests waiting at the reception.