FAMILY FORMAL PORTRAITS
This is the point of your wedding day when you’re going to be elated — probably more so than you’ve ever been in your life. You’re freshly married, and you’re about to attend the largest party you’ve ever thrown. But first, there’s some business to attend to.
We’re going to need a list. This is going to take a little bit of legwork on your end, but I promise it won’t be anything too harrowing, and it will be worthwhile. The more informed I am off the bat, the easier it’s going to be for you while you’re still coming down off that post-nuptial high.
My goal is to know your family almost as well as you do. I know your mom and dad; I know who Aunt Ruth and Uncle Pete are; I also know that Cousin Maggie and Uncle Pete aren’t necessarily on the best of terms, but that they’ve agreed to put aside their differences for the sake of the day. Remember? We talked about all of this. The ball is in my court, and I’ll run with it. Your job is to enjoy yourself.
Which is why, well before the wedding, you’re going to send me a list of the “must-have” family portraits. These are the shots we’re going to get just after the ceremony, before everybody has dispersed into the jubilant haze of the reception. Your family is all in one place, so this is the best time to get these pictures taken care of, one at a time.
Replace the caps in this sentence with the first names of the people they’re referring to: “COUPLE with PARENTS and SIBLINGS.” Or, “Sam and Craig, with Dolly and Bill, and Jessica and Peter.” You get the idea. During the family portraits, I’ll call out the names from the list we’ve assembled, everybody organizes, and the picture is taken.
I’m not going into this with any illusions. The family portraits are a little paradoxical in that way: you absolutely are going to want them; but moments after the ceremony is over, and you’ve come to the realization that everything, in fact, is okay, it’s not going to feel like a priority. You’re going to want to cry, and hug, and shake hands, and smile, and laugh, and shout from a rooftop. And you should. That’s why you’re leaving the nitty-gritty to me.
Here are some suggested groupings for this checklist. Feel free to adapt it as necessary, but be sure to include every combination you would like represented.
COUPLE with OFFICIANT
COUPLE with FLOWER GIRL(S) and RING BEARER(S)
COUPLE with GROOM’S PARENTS
COUPLE with BRIDE’S PARENTS
COUPLE with GROOM’S PARENTS and SIBLINGS
COUPLE with BRIDE’S PARENTS and SIBLINGS
COUPLE with BRIDES GRANDPARENTS
COUPLE with GROOMS GRANDPARENTS
COUPLE with BRIDE’S PARENTS and GRANDPARENTS
COUPLE with GROOM’S PARENTS and GRANDPARENTS
COUPLE with BRIDE’S PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS, and SIBLINGS
COUPLE with GROOM’S PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS, and SIBLINGS
A NOTE ON LARGE GROUPS
For obvious reasons, a large group is a little tricky. It’s a lot of ducks to get into a row. I will absolutely accommodate everything on your list, but if it’s at all possible, please try to keep groups smaller than 15 people. This isn’t a deal-breaker by any means; rather, there are only so many people you can have in a single portrait before that “oomph” factor is lost. Personal experience speaking, but it’s good to keep in the back of your mind. I’ll be happy to discuss any questions you may have about your checklist, obviously.
You’re going to want to get everyone taken care of during this period. Believe me — once you arrive at the reception, the last thing you’re going to want to do is take a moment from the fun for a casually posed shot (and the 15 minutes it will take to track everyone down). Everyone is here, the camera and lighting are all set, and the background is consistent, so let’s do it.
The time varies, but a good rule of thumb is to allocate about 3 minutes per portrait on your list. This gives us time to get everyone organized, and to take a few exposures (you know that one person who always blinks when the shutter goes off? No worries — we’ll get options, because we’ll have time).
INFORM YOUR FAMILY
Sometimes, people get caught up in the moment. They go off to the reception. They step away to use the restroom, or grab a drink, or smoke a cigarette. Prior to the wedding day, explicitly let everyone who will be involved in the family portraits KNOW that they’re involved, and that they should stay close. Otherwise… how will they know? This is especially true for extended families.
THE EVERYBODY PHOTO
I’ve been to a few weddings where the bride a groom want a picture of everybody, all in one photo — family, friends, their accountant, the florist, the baker... everybody. Honestly? These are a lot of fun, and I’m happy to oblige. But they also take some legwork to get setup, so we’ll plan in an extra chunk of time (usually about 15 minutes). Of course, we’ll plan on the location way in advance — a second-floor balcony can do the trick, but if that’s not available, I’ll make sure a tall ladder is in place. This picture is usually taken directly after the ceremony, before everyone splits for... the reception!