A Stress-Free Guide To Wedding Day Family Portraits

Weddings not only provide an opportunity for family members to reunite and catch up on each other’s lives, but they also help initiate new relationships and unite two families who were previously unrelated. Capturing family wedding photos is a way to preserve these special moments that may only happen once in a lifetime. 

Coordinating family photos with many different family members can be a stressful part of the day if you are not properly prepared. Your wedding photographer will help you create a plan for your photos, capture these moments and ensure the day runs as smoothly as possible. So here are some considerations for family wedding photos, let’s dive in!

Bride and groom with immediate family posing for wedding family photos

Family wedding portraits by Minneapolis wedding photographer, Laura Alpizar

Make a Family Photo List

It’s very important to plan your wedding family photos well in advance of your big day. 

I recommend that my couples stick to immediate family members which will keep the photoshoot short and sweet.The key is to keep them quick with a max number of 18-20 combinations.

Start by filling out your own photogapher’s template, if you want to plan ahead you can ask them for this in advance. I personally send it to my couples in their welcome guide , as well as in their final questionnaire one month to two months before the big day. 

Usually your photographer will ask you to choose from a list of specific groupings, such as parents, parents + siblings and so on.

Inclusive Family Photo list 

Here is my Inclusive shot list for immediate family wedding photos:

Inclusive Family Shot List for Wedding Photos

After this, you will want to make a separate list with the names of everyone involved as follows:

Spouse 1:

Spouse 2:

Spouse 1’s Parents Names:

Spouse 2’s Parents Names:

Spouse 1’s Siblings:

Spouse 2’s Siblings:

Spouse 1’s Grandparents:

Spouse 2’s Grandparents:

Next you will want to work with your photographer to create a schedule for your day thinking of when the family photos will take place. It is also important to make your photographer aware of any special situations such as divorces, blended families or any sensitive issues.

This list would just be a starting point and if you wish to do extended family portraits, your photographer can work this into the day, if time allows.

Normally they would start with a big extended family group and start switching out people from there. A quick way to group people is by their last name.

Sometimes extended family isn’t there prior to the ceremony so you will have to allow time for that during cocktail hour

You and the photographer will discuss the plan together and make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to when and where the photos will be taken. This will help to ensure that there is enough time to capture all the photos you want without feeling rushed or stressed.

Formal family wedding photos by Laura Alpizar, Minneapolis wedding photographer

The Timing for Family Wedding Photos

Timing is super important on your wedding day, so your photographer will help you build out a great wedding day timeline and allow for buffers of time so your day doesn’t feel rushed!

If you need more information on building a wedding day timeline, you may also find these resources helpful which include a downloadable template: Planning Your Wedding Day Timeline and A Breakdown Of The Wedding Day

In general, photographers will allow 30 mins for approximately 18 family photo combinations. (like the example shown above). For extended family photos, 30 more minutes should be added on. I personally like to adopt a relaxed approach even for classic portraits, so we leave room for playful kids or different fun photos in between.

Family wedding portraits are normally designated a time immediately after the wedding ceremony, or if you are having a first look these can be done right before the ceremony. 

A selection of outside family wedding portraits by Laura Alpizar, Minneapolis wedding photographer

Bride with mother and groom with mother at Minneapolis wedding

Bride and groom with bride's, mother, father and sister, family wedding portraits at Minneapolos wedding

Family Photos On The wedding day

On the day of your wedding, your photographer will work quickly through your family photo shot list by adding and switching family members in and out. The whole process will go quicker and smoother if you let everyone know what is expected of them ahead of time. Be clear about where the photos will be taken and what time they need to arrive. (Pro Tip: Tell them 15 mins before the actual time). Inform them that the photographer has the shot list and will be calling everyone when ready. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there are no surprises on the day of the wedding.

It is also a great idea to assign a trusted family member or friend to act as a point person for family photos. This person can help to gather family members and keep everyone on track, which will help to avoid confusion and delays. Having this designated person would be particularly helpful for extended family portraits.

Remember that your wedding day is meant to be a fun and enjoyable experience. Try to relax and have fun with your favorite people, and don’t worry too much about getting the perfect shot – your photographer will take care of that. 

Wedding family photos can serve as a reminder of the bonds that tie your family together, the love and joy that surrounded you on your wedding day and the special moments you’ve shared together. With these tips in mind, taking family photos at your wedding will be a smooth, stress-free experience.

a selection of family wedding portraits at Minneapolis wedding, by Laura Alpizar, Minneapolis wedding photographer

Bride and groom with grandma at minneapolis wedding

A selection of family wedding portraits at Minneapolis wedding, by Laura Alpizar, Minneapolis wedding photographer

If you are looking for a photographer that believes the focus of the day should be on you and your most favorite people, with photos that reflect the love, joy and candid moments of togetherness then please get in touch, I would love to hear from you!

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I document real life true love stories for the outdoor lovers, dance party initiators, and the ones who still believe in magic.

I anticipate and capture the candid moments full of emotion on your day, as well as guide you to the most natural portraits to create truly beautiful and honest images. These are the images that will become your first family treasures. 


wedding experience

I am in love with people and the connections that bring us together

Documenting the pure joy of family and friends together
and all the candid moments in between. 

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