The Easiest Way to Organize Family Photos on Your Wedding Day


April 7, 2022

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Wedding days can be an absolute whirlwind; get the most out of your family photos with these organization tips!

Many times, couples can get so caught up in the To-Do lists of pre-wedding planning that creating a list of family photos for their wedding falls to the wayside. Not to worry – with these organizational tips and the help of a skilled photographer (that’s me!) assembling and organizing group photos will be completely pain-free.

bride and groom family photos for wedding

Consider a First Look

When wedding professionals talk about the First Look on a wedding day, we mean a private moment between the soon-to-be-married couple before they walk down the aisle to one another at the ceremony.  Traditionally, a soon-to-be-married couple will not see each other until one partner is coming down the aisle to another, but it is becoming more and more common for modern couples to create their own private moment together before the rush of the ceremony.

If you opt for a first look, we can typically capture all of your formal group photos with immediate family and your wedding party before the ceremony begins. This is the best time to capture formal group photos as it means that your closest loved ones can enjoy the ceremony (hello, joyfully crying our eyes out!) and rejoin cocktail hour without worrying about how they’ll look in formal photos.

Let all Family Members and Wedding Party Members Know They’ll Be Needed

When it comes to tackling family formals, ensure that each family member required for your formal photos has been notified that they will be needed for photos. It always takes some time to gather people together and pose them so that everyone can be seen etc. so it may be helpful to designate a family member to round everyone up for photos.

This is also particularly useful for any guests who plan to indulge in cocktails before the photos begin. If any members of the wedding party plan on drinking prior to the ceremony, please know this can reflect in your images through glossy or red eyes.

Giving each person a heads up beforehand means there won’t be any time wasted while someone searches through the cocktail hour for a missing loved one. I do work directly from the list compiled within your timeline questionnaire and there likely won’t be time to wait for people to be found and added in. (Getting people where they need to be for family formals is by far the most time-consuming part of group photos!) If we don’t make it through all the groupings before the ceremony, no stress – I’ll spend the beginning of cocktail hour or reception finishing up.

Set the Timeline Beforehand

Photos will always go more smoothly if you have the timeline set beforehand! This is why I create a custom photo timeline for each couple that lays all of the details out in one place, from locations and the timing of getting ready all the way through to the final exit from the reception. It’s important to know all of the major pieces and players of each wedding day in order to best capture them!

The custom photo timeline lays out each loved one requested for formal photos by name and any applicable grouping that way you can let everyone from the in-laws to the wedding party see where they need to be and when. (Plus, having the list of family photos for your wedding laid out in one document means that it’s easy to forward along to your cousins and in-laws so that you don’t have to field extra questions on your wedding day!)

Lucky for you, I include a sample photo timeline as a bonus within my Ultimate Guide to Wedding Planning! Sign up for your free download here.

Trust the Photographer

The golden rule in my book is to always trust the photographer!  By placing your trust in me to find beautiful locations and lighting, organize and direct groups on where to pose, and help you feel confident and comfortable, you will be able to relive one of your brightest core memory nights alongside your loved ones for years to come without feeling stressed in the moment.

Are you looking for more planning advice for a stress-free wedding day? Check out my wedding planning resources HERE!

Kyra Gustwick is a Virginia Wedding Photographer specializing in weddings, engagements, couples’ portraits, and empowering boudoir experiences.

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