Picture this, you've got your entire family here to attend your wedding and as soon as your ceremony has ended there is a mad rush to the exit to drive the reception or stake out that perfect spot for a receiving line. Its warm outside and everyone is thirsty and the kids are kinda fidgety from patiently sitting in the church while you and your husband exchanged your vows. You wanted to take some family pictures with everyone now but it looks like your Uncle Bob is halfway down the road with your cousin Brian and your Mom is getting ticked off because her brother has skipped out. Worse yet, your maid of honor is nowhere to be found because she is out in the back of the parking lot decorating your get away car instead of being here at your side ready to take on any challenge posed to you during this flurry of activity. Not cool, huh?
This is a situation that we all want to avoid! After all this is supposed to be the happiest day of your lives and there is no need to get stressed out on your wedding day. Well, I have some advice for brides and grooms on how to avoid the chaos that sometimes may arise during the family and wedding party portrait time.
The first that is key, plan ahead and find a way to let everyone know ahead of time that they are expected to stick around for family pictures. I found that it's best to designate somebody in your family (or a close friend) who is familiar with most of the members of your families to take on this responsibility. Another good idea might be to have your officiant make an announcement asking family members and members of your wedding party to stay in the church for photos before he releases the congregation.
When it comes down to it proper planning is the best way to ensure that your family and wedding party formal portrait time goes as smoothly as possible. Another important aspect of planning is of course the amount of time it may take have your family formal and wedding party portraits photographed. Here is a list below that can help you budget your photo time after the ceremony in an expedient way. This list and the time values attributed to it reflect the average amount of time that I spend taking family and wedding party formal portraits immediately following the wedding ceremony.
* Entire extended family portrait including both sides of bride and grooms families in one frame time: approx. 8-10 mins
* Couple with brides extended family 3-5 mins
* Couple with brides immediate family 3 mins
* Couple with grooms extended family 3-5 mins
* Couple with grooms immediate family 3 mins
* groom w/bridesmaids
* bride w/groomsmen
* groom w/ groomsmen
* couple with the entire wedding party
By the way, you may have noticed that I am referencing taking formal photos after a wedding ceremony and not before. The reason for this is because I have found that if you try to schedule your family to have their pictures taken before the ceremony inevitably there will be people who will be late arriving to your venue or will have a wardrobe issue and there for will end up missing from these photos. By scheduling your formal family portrait time to take place after your wedding your ensuring that everybody who you would want to be in your photos will be there. The same idea applies to your wedding party as well. Often clients may be on a limited time budget before their wedding ceremony so it might not be a good idea to try and rush to get wedding party photos beforehand since everyone who is in the wedding party will definitely be dressed and ready after the wedding is completed, ha ha!
One last bit of advice is to make sure that you leave some time during your wedding party portraits to include some fun group shots that are anything but formal in nature. From silly to epic its always a great idea to let loose and really have some fun as this is truly a time for celebration. I think that your photos should reflect this happy sentiment so I am always pleased by special group photo request from my clients that truly will bring a smile to the faces of everyone who is participating in your wedding party.
Here are a few examples of some group formal portraits that include family and wedding party that I've photographed over the past few years.
Some photos are more traditionally posed then others but then again, some families and clients are more reserved in nature then others. On many occasions I have been asked to photograph my clients and their friends during the wedding reception on a spur of the moment "lets take a fun group photo request. These portraits are cannot be described in any way as being "formal" in nature however these images are often the most fun to take as this kind of photo reflects the pure joy and party atmosphere that everyone is in the crowd feeling at the time.
Either way one looks at it, formal portraits and fun group photos are a marker in time, your wedding party and family are your cheering squad of support as you and your spouse begin the journey as husband and wife. Lets really take the time to relish these moments with family and friends and get the best possible photos to truly mark these special moments of unity and celebration together.