Sometimes, I will show up to a wedding as a second shooter, and the list of family portraits that they want is 57 lines long.
I’m not kidding.
I know that there is excitement. And I know that this may be the first time in a while that you have all been together, and having a picture would be nice.
I have seen lists like this:
Bride-groom-mom-dad-Auntie Susan-Auntie Janet
Bride-groom-mom-dad-Auntie Susan-Auntie Janet-Uncle Chris
Bride-groom-mom-dad-Auntie Susan-Auntie Janet-Uncle Chris-Uncle Stephen
Bride-groom-mom-dad-Auntie Susan-Auntie Janet-Uncle Chris-Uncle Stephen-Cori
Bride-groom-mom-dad-Auntie Susan-Auntie Janet-Uncle Chris-Stephen-Cori-Ashley
Bride-groom-Auntie Janet-Uncle Chris-Stephen-Cori-Ashley”
in addition to all of the photos with grandparents, cousins, great-great uncles and cousins that you have never met before.
Basically, some couples are trying to fit in a full extended family portrait session, which would normally take up to 90 minutes, and make it happen in 20 minutes.
The result is always the same: The portraits last way longer than they should (because everyone keeps disappearing) and we are left with 5 minutes to do portraits of wedding party AND the couple. And usually, that’s with the venue coordinator breathing down our neck to get inside because dinner is ready.
Do you really need a picture with each auntie and each uncle or can you put all the aunties and uncles from one family together and then later at the reception, get one of your photographers to take a photo with an extra special auntie?
Doing a first look allows you to get a lot of portraits as a couple and get the wedding party pictures before everyone else arrives. That way, right after the ceremony, the family formals can happen quickly, your parents can head on in to host the party, your grandparents can sit down and get some snacks, and then if you have a few more minutes, you can do some quick wedding party and couple portraits.
8-10 combinations is ideal. Keep in mind that every combination is going to take 3-5 minutes to find everyone, line them up, get them looking, and then taking the photo.
Everyone has an auntie who needs a job. Ask your loudest aunt who knows everybody and their business (preferably a teacher who means business) to be in charge of the list. Make her the bad guy. Everyone already knows what she is like, and she loves to feel important and useful on your day.
Decide if the cousin picture or the picture of everyone who used to rent the house up at the beach when you were a kid could be taken during the dance party instead.
There’s a lot that you want to squeeze in to one day. If family portraits are the priority, that is fine. But the flip side is less couple and wedding party portraits. Whatever you choose is what I will honor. But being informed is the best way to plan out your day.
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