How To Capture The Best Family Photos At Your Wedding

Looking to capture the best family photos at your wedding? Here are some tips on what to keep in mind.

With wedding schedules often being tightly packed, rounding up all the relatives at the same time can seem like an unnecessary hassle. And believe me, I get it! Keeping young cousins smudge-free, wayward uncles on the coffee and rambunctious siblings in check can often make this part of the day seem daunting.

The Importance of Family Photos

Although I understand the complexity of family dynamics, I can’t overstress the importance of making time for family photos. Even if you’re not a big fan of formal photos, I promise you that these will be the images from your wedding that you’ll cherish the most.

How can I be so sure? I’ve lost count of all the people over the last five years who have thanked me for their group photos. Telling me how much they appreciate having all their loved ones in the same frame.

For many, these photos have an even deeper meaning after a family member dies. I’ve even had people tell me they used family photos from their wedding day at a funeral. What better way to celebrate a person’s life than by displaying an image of them surrounded by their family? While all this may seem a bit morbid, it can be comforting to know that you have lovely images of older family members to look back on.

If I seem overly insistent on the importance of family photos, it’s because I’ve been burned before. At one of the very first weddings I ever shot, I made the mistake of letting the bride talk me out of family photos. She was adamant, I was inexperienced, and I let my fear of upsetting my client get in the way of my judgement. Wouldn’t you know it, I got an email from that same bride a short while ago asking if I’d managed to sneak any family photos. If not, she wondered, could we somehow do some family photos now? If only that day could be recreated! Unfortunately, my extensive collection of photography equipment doesn’t include a time machine, and I was unable to give this regretful bride the images she was missing.

How To Capture The Best Family Photos At Your Wedding

The How-Tos

Have I managed to convince you that family photos are necessary? Good. Now, let me reassure you that the process needn’t be time-consuming or stressful. To capture the best family photos at your wedding, you simply need to do a bit of planning in advance. The first step happens well before the big day when you make a list of the family photos that you want to be taken. Think about the different family configurations you want to be photographed, and write everything down.

family photos at a wedding

Timing is everything

Once you (and your photographer) have your list of photos, you’ll want to consider timing. In my experience, the best time to do family photos is directly after the ceremony. Why? The last thing you’ll want to do right after making a lifetime commitment is to spend a bunch of time rounding up family members who may have wandered off to the toilet (or the bar, once the reception starts). Try to let your family members know in advance that you’ll be doing family photos right after the ceremony. I usually ask the celebrant to announce it before the ceremony starts. That way everyone knows what to do once the ceremony is over, and we don’t have to run around looking for missing family members.

If you can manage to keep everyone on hand right after the ceremony, family photos can happen quickly and easily. For reference, I usually suggest 15 minutes to capture family photos (depending on the size of the families).

free the bird weddings

Let there be light-ing!

As is the case with all the images taken on your wedding day, lighting is an important consideration when planning family photos. If you’re concerned about running out of natural light (if you’re getting married in the winter, for example), you might want to have your photographer plan to take family photos with a flash during the reception. Just keep in mind that it may be a little more challenging to round everybody up once the revelry begins. But at least everyone will look happy in the photos, right?

Lighting is such a crucial component of good photos that it should take precedence over background choice when you’re deciding on the location for your family photos. It won’t matter how majestic the mountain range behind your relatives is if everyone looks awful because they’re squinting into the sun. Not to mention that nobody likes standing around in the blazing heat while they wait for the photographer to get his shot. You don’t want to make your beloved grandmother uncomfortable, nor do you want to have to listen to your not-so-beloved uncle complain. Do yourself and your relatives a favour and choose a shady spot for family photos.

family photos at a wedding

Location, location, location…

Another consideration is proximity to the location of the ceremony. You don’t want your older, less mobile relatives to have to trek too far. Similarly, the ladies in those fabulous heels will likely appreciate not having to walk a long way for family photos. So stay close as much as possible.

Family photos may not be at the top of your priority list when it comes to capturing the magic of your wedding day. However, they should definitely be included in your photography plan. With a bit of forethought, the process of getting these photos can be utterly painless. And better yet, you may be surprised by how much they mean to you down the road.

The family photos from your wedding may end up being your very favourite images from your big day. I bet you’ll be glad you took the time to make them happen!

Looking for more information on the timings of your big day? Check out this blog on How to Organise a Timeline For Your Wedding Day.

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