Family Formal Photographs


Because Your Family Matters

How to capture precious memories without getting a pain in your face :)


Your Wedding Day has arrived and as everyone knows, the family formal photographs play an important part. But not everyone looks forward to them. Why? I will cover this a little later in this blog post.

As a family man myself, I appreciate how few family photographs are taken in our lifetime that we can actually hang on the wall. Your wedding is an ideal opportunity to correct the balance. But there are pitfalls.

95% of the photographs I capture on your wedding day will be natural and unposed. This is one of the reasons we will be working together, you like the style of photographs we capture. But the family formal photographs are posed and here are some tips:

family formal photographs 1

Getting started

Once we have figured out where to capture the family formal photographs (more on this later) we need to ensure everyone is present. The best people to involve in this are the bridesmaids and groomsmen. In advance of the wedding day, I recommend that you explain to them who is needed for the family photographs as well as where and when they will be happening.

What causes delays?

The main reason for a delay is that not everyone is at the location where the photographs are being taken. This is a major cause of stress for the couple as they wait for one or two family members to arrive. Every minute wasted here is time lost at the drinks reception. I want to get through the family portraits so that you have time to spend with family and friends, many of whom have travelled from abroad to see you.

I recommend that at least one person from each family is on hand to organise that people are where they need to be.


Family photos – Photo List

It is a good idea to have a list of family photos so that we know who we need and that no one is forgotten. That is why I have sent you the list of formal photographs I will take.

So back to why does everyone not enjoy the family photographs and those facial muscles. It is easy to want dozens of photographs with your family and guests but this can quickly descend into a major undertaking. Not only in the time it takes but also the effort to continually smile. This is what turns people off family photographs. Too many of them.

You will lose time enjoying the day and you may not even have time to speak with these people.

So it’s important to get the balance right between the time we spend taking family photos and the time you have enjoying the drinks reception. Be selective. Ask yourself, will this photograph hang on our wall or be in our wedding album? If not, why are we taking it?

family formal photographs 4

Recommended Photo List

With many years of experience, I send all couples the list I have just sent you. This will cover all the essential photographs. It is a guide so edit it to your needs.

We can add many different and varied photographs to the list but remember, the more photographs that you add, the less time for you to spend with your family and friends during the drinks reception and the more tired you will be.

Group photographs are nice to have as a record of the day but as with all large gatherings, not everyone will be seen or will be looking at the camera. We can discuss the best location and use of time for this photograph if its something you would like captured.


Extras on the day

Once the list has been completed, if there are people closely that you would like your photograph taken with, of course that will be my pleasure to capture. That holds for any time during the day, just ask.


Photos with Friends

I recommend that you take your friends photographs after the meal and before the first dance. These are less formal and it is usually easier to find people in the reception room. Also people can be a lot more relaxed at this point in the day so a laugh can be had while capturing them.

family and friends photographs

Where to capture the family formal photographs?

We need to factor in a number of things when deciding this. The weather is always important and not just whether its raining or cold. Direct sunlight also needs to be avoided.

The simplest and quickest option is to take your family photographs at the church door after the receiving line finishes as everyone that you need is there.

If it’s cold or wet, your family can congratulate you and come back inside and wait for us to join them.


Photos at the reception venue

Why not to take family photos in the gardens of the hotel or on the staircase of your reception venue?

In real life, it’s very very difficult to organise people for family photographs in the venue without losing valuable time. People are checking in, walking around the venue and someone can easily be missing from the family photos. There is always a delay in trying to find someone that is missing.

family formal photographs 3


What about capturing some Family Photographs before leaving for the ceremony?

Even for the most organised, most likely there will not be any time available and so I will not be factoring in any formal photographs before the departure. I like to be at the ceremony venue a half an hour before the start time so that allows me time to take photographs of people and moments that would not be possible otherwise.

Getting the balance right 

Our suggestion is to use the list provided to cover the essentials. Add in any photographs that mean a lot to you as they will either hang on your wall or make the wedding album. My photography style is based on a mix of natural and documentary styles. If the family formal photograph list is longer than the suggested list, you will get less creative wedding photography and less time with your family and friends.



Family photos on your wedding day by Golden Moments Wedding Photography and Film





Alan Golden