Tips for Family Formals -





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I'm Magan!

Wife, mama, and educator obsessed with chick-fil-a mac & cheese and dry shampoo.

An entrepreneur since the ripe old age of 5 when I would sell a single cracker with spreadable cheese from my lunch box for $0.25. 

I have built a successful photography business while working for a decade in the insurance industry. 

I hold my Masters in Education and love to teach. So it is no secret that I would teach from all I have learned along the way.

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Tips for Family Formals

family formal wedding shots

Family Portraits at the wedding! This can be a stressful sentence for some, but it doesn’t have to be! I know it can be intimidating to think of ALL the family and the mother-of-the-bride/groom but I am going to guide you through how I handle family formals in a short amount of time and efficiently.

Command Authority (with kindness, of course!)

I don’t know too many photographers that are introverted, we have to be bossy to get the job done, right? But you HAVE to be in absolute control (same as with the groomsmen, y’all know what I mean!). I feel like this comes a bit more naturally to me being a mom and former teacher, but speaking loudly with specific CLEAR instructions (and always kindness) are going to be your key things to achieve the goal.

Let the family know that if they listen carefully they can get the family formals all done very quickly. Then they can move along to the ceremony or reception, depending on when you are taking these images during the wedding day timeline.

Have ALL family come to the family portrait spot at the same time.

Family formals and portraits

That way you know you have EVERYONE there and there are no stragglers. However, if the groom’s Aunt Susie is missing, start on the bride’s side. This is key to just work with what you have and keep trucking along to keep the timeline moving. No need to make everyone stop and wait for Aunt Susie, because they will get bored, annoyed, or wander off. And then you have MORE problems on your hands.

Do not allow for spare time

Keep things moving right along. As soon as you finish up with the bride’s side move directly into the groom’s side of the family. Same rule you have with kids: “if you give them an inch, they will take a mile.”

Stay Positive and Kind

Keep being positive, telling them how amazing they are doing as you continue that gentle authority! I know that one of the moms or outspoken aunts might very well try and tell YOU how to pose people and what her good side is. Just make sure she kindly knows that you are in control. Thank her for her input, but quickly move along and start showing people where to stand. Usually, these well-intentioned pop-up bosses will get the hint quickly and stay quiet the rest of the time!

Keep a timeline of the family portraits

portraits for family formals

I don’t mean write it down. If you have an assistant, during your first few weddings you might need reminders. But after you’ve been shooting weddings for a little while you’ll have an idea in your head exactly how to proceed with family formals.

What do I mean by this?

I mean knowing your shots. In my brain, I know exactly what my must-have shots are. I tend to go in the exact same order each time:

  • I recommend starting with the largest group shot of extended family first, so those folks can move along and get going to the reception. This will also get them out of your way too. By extended family, I mean the aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents on each side. After this larger shot, then break down to grab shots of the grandparents with the more immediate family and the bride and groom.
  • Next, move on to the immediate family. Start with whichever still has everyone still hanging out in the portrait spot as far as mom, dad, and siblings. Grab the group shots of mom and dad, bride and groom, and the siblings.
  • Then, capture just sibling shots, then individuals with mom and dad if those are still needed.

An extra tip: Don’t forget to offer an image to mom and dad on their own – if they are still married of course. More often than not, they haven’t had their professional picture taken in quite some time. Also put in your notes to offer this to the grandparents as well if they are both still living and present at the event. This will be so incredibly special and they will LOVE it. A tiny bit of kindness and one simple shot goes a LONG way. I have had so many brides come back and thank me for capturing that image. They usually wind up purchasing prints for the ENTIRE family to have.

For more tips on all things photography, make sure you bookmark Mint Magnolia Photography check out the other posts on my blog!

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