A Guide to Wedding Family Photos | Nashville Wedding Photographer

April 27, 2022

A Guide to Wedding Family Photos

Family photos at your wedding are some of the most important formal portraits you will take. Not only are weddings a rare occasion when the whole family is together — you also have a professional photographer there to capture them. If your family is really big, like mine,  the thought of organizing a family photo session might be overwhelming. But don’t worry! I’m here to help.

Family Photos: Make a List for Each Side

Start with the largest groups first. These will include extended family such as aunts, uncles, cousins and their partners. While making your list, include first names so your photographer can call who is needed.

It can be tempting to overthink the family photo list to try and include every single variation. You don’t want to leave anyone out, but try your best not to overlap groupings too much. (For example, you may not need photos with your grandparents and then your grandpa and then your grandma). Your photographer can always take more group photos during the reception.

If you are having trouble paring down the groups, it can help to think about what photos you or your loved ones might want printed down the line. Eliminate any that might not be as valuable to the family or that might be covered by another grouping.

Split the large group into smaller family units. For example, you might take family photos with one side of the family then take photos with only your aunt, uncle, and cousins who are in the same family unit.

Save photos with individuals or small groups for last. You might have a favorite cousin or want photos with just your siblings. Save these pairings for last.

Example List

To show you what this looks like, here is a list for one side of a family. While I’m aware all families are different and you may have some variation, this should give you a good launchpad for your own unique list.

You’ll see that I worked from immediate family outwards, which helps a lot if your family is big.

Example Family Photo List

Whole Family

  • Dad, Mom, Siblings & Their Families
  • Paternal Grandparents
  • Maternal Grandparents
  • Aunt, Uncle, Cousins & Their Families
  • etc

Other Combinations

  • Cousins
  • Paternal Grandparents
  • Maternal Grandparents
  • Siblings & Families
  • Siblings (if not included in bridal party)
  • Mom & Dad
  • Dad
  • Mom

Organize the Photo List Efficiently

While the list above is fine for making sure you have all your boxes checked, you’ll also appreciate giving your photographer a list that is organized in a way that makes things flow easily. Something couples often overlook during family photos is what order is most efficient and kind to guests. My best tip on organizing is to work from largest to smallest and from extended to immediate. It’s also nice to send in elderly family members as soon as possible.

The reason behind this is pretty simple: people want to get to the party. Extended family is likely to get impatient faster than immediate family so we want to get them to the party first. You’re also less likely to want super small groupings within your extended family so it makes sense to get those family photos done before immediate family.

So what might the example list look like following those guidelines? Here’s how I would organize my family photo list as a photographer:

Example Family Photo List — In Order

Photo 1: Both Sides of the Family

  • Bride’s Whole Family (see below)
  • Groom’s Whole Family (see below)

Photo 2: Bride’s Whole Family

  • Dad, Mom, Siblings & Their Families
  • Paternal Grandparents
  • Maternal Grandparents
  • Aunt, Uncle, Cousins & Their Families
  • etc

Note: Bride’s Extended Family is dismissed

Photos 3 – 10: Bride’s Immediate Family

  1. Dad, Mom, Siblings & Their Families, Grandparents
  2. Dad, Mom, Siblings & Their Families
  3. Paternal Grandparents
  4. Maternal Grandparents
  5. Parents
  6. Dad
  7. Mom
  8. Sibling(s) if not in bridal party photos

Note: Bride’s Grandparents are dismissed

Photo 11 : Bride and Groom Whole Immediate Families

  • Bride’s Dad, Mom, Siblings & Their Families
  • Groom’s Dad, Mom, Siblings & Their Families

Note: Bride’s Siblings & Their Families are dismissed

Photo 12 – 14: Bride and Groom Parents

  1. Bride and Groom’s Parents
  2. Bride’s Parents
  3. Groom’s Parents

Note: Bride’s Parents are dismissed

Photo 15: Groom’s Whole Family

  • Dad, Mom, Siblings & Their Families
  • Paternal Grandparents
  • Maternal Grandparents
  • Aunt, Uncle, Cousins & Their Families
  • etc

Note: Groom’s Extended Family is dismissed

Photos 16 – 23: Groom’s Immediate Family

  1. Dad, Mom, Siblings & Their Families, Grandparents
  2. Dad, Mom, Siblings & Their Families
  3. Paternal Grandparents
  4. Maternal Grandparents
  5. Parents
  6. Dad
  7. Mom
  8. Sibling(s) if not in bridal party photos

Other Popular but Optional Combinations

  • Bride and Groom, Flower Girl & Ring Bearer
  • Cousins Photo
  • Siblings Photo (Both sides)
  • Bride and Groom with Officiant

I hope this list will help your family photos run smoothly on your wedding day. Remember to make a family photo list for you and your partner to get all your bases covered. Then, surprise your photographer by organizing the list in a photo-friendly way. Following this template you’ll be dancing your way into reception in no time.

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