Family Formal Guidelines and Template


One of the most important things I need from you prior to the wedding day is your family formal shot list. I ask for this prior to the wedding so that when the time comes on the wedding day to photograph these we can be as efficient and orderly as possible. It streamlines the process, keeps your timeline on schedule and helps maintain that stress-free environment we are always striving for.

I have a template below for you to work off of. Keep in mind the more groupings you have on the list the more time you are spending away from your guests, cocktail hour, etc. You do not want this to turn into an hour long family portrait session. This is your wedding day! When thinking about who to include in your family formals, think about which pictures you’re going to want to hang in your home and pass down through the generations. Often this is simply your immediate family and your grandparents. My mantra when it comes to family photographs is simplify!

In general it is imperative that family members know where to be and when. This is especially important if you are choosing to do extended family photographs. I highly recommend assigning a family member to help out during this period to make sure everyone is accounted for and possibly even work off the same list you have given me. Ideally we won’t be losing time chasing people down or sending people to find those that are missing but you may want to build more time into your timeline if your instincts are telling you this will be the case.

You may also add friend groupings to your formal shot list. This might include h.s. friends, college friends, med school, crew team, etc. If you are attending your cocktail hour we will make our best attempt to get these photographed then. If you are not attended cocktail we will photograph these during a lull in the dinner service. Letting friends know ahead of time you will be looking to grab them at some point for photographs so they are aware to keep an eye out for us.

As for timing you can estimate 20 minutes for immediate family photographs and another 15-20 for your extended family photographs. Lighting will guide our location for photographs. Trust that I am placing you in an area that is going to make you and your family members look your best. For example this may mean that the ocean view you have as a backdrop for your ceremony may not also be the ideal location for family formals. Take note that any groupings that get added on the fly will not take place until after we are through your original list. If you are opting for extended family photographs you will want to schedule these immediately following the ceremony even if you are planning on photographing your immediate family prior to the ceremony.


Bride’s Side

  • Bride with mom

  • Bride with dad

  • Bride with both parents

  • Bride and groom with bride’s parents

  • Bride with siblings

  • Bride with bride’s immediate family (bride’s parents and siblings)

  • Bride and groom with bride’s immediate family (bride’s parents, siblings, and siblings’ spouses and children)

  • Bride and groom with bride’s maternal grandparents

  • Bride and groom with bride’s paternal grandparents

    *bride alone with each set of grandparents if desired

    *each set of grandparents individually if desired

Groom’s Side

  • Groom with mom

  • Groom with dad

  • Groom with both parents

  • Groom and groom with bride’s parents

  • Groom with siblings

  • Groom with groom’s immediate family (bride’s parents and siblings)

  • Bride and groom with groom’s immediate family (bride’s parents, siblings, and siblings’ spouses and children)

  • Bride and groom with groom’s maternal grandparents

  • Bride and groom with groom’s paternal grandparents

    *groom alone with each set of grandparents if desired

    *each set of grandparents individually if desired

Both Sides

  • Bride and groom with both sets of parents

  • Bride and groom with both sets of parents + remainder of immediate families (siblings, and siblings’ spouses and children)

  • Groom’s parents

  • Bride’s parents

Extended Families

  • Bride and groom with bride’s immediate family plus maternal side of family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents)

  • Bride and groom with bride’s immediate family plus paternal side of family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents)

  • Bride and groom with groom’s immediate family plus maternal side of family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents)

  • Bride and groom with groom’s immediate family plus paternal side of family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents)