We have all probably had a horrifying experience before, during, or after some kind of family photos. I think this probably just a fact of life. But a wedding day is not really the time or place for that kind of experience. Wedding day family portraits should be a sweet time as a family to take a photo to commemorate that joy of the ceremony that just took place.
So, I've compiled a short list of tips for wedding day family portraits (otherwise known as, how to have an entirely lovely and non-hectic time taking photos):
1. Have a list of photos ahead of time.
I always ask my couples in advance what family photos they would like documented on the wedding day (I usually recommend 5-10 combinations depending on their families). So, in advance we can discuss if there are any family situations I need to keep in mind. This also means that the day-of, I have a list of the family members names and what photos the couple would like them in in order that we can move efficiently and not keep family members for longer than necessary away from the cocktail hour.
Here's the list that I generally work from as a starting place for family photos!
Bride, Mom, Dad
Bride, Groom, Mom, Dad
Bride, Groom, Mom, Dad, Siblings
Bride, Groom, Mom, Dad, Siblings, Spouses
Bride, Groom, Mom, Dad, Siblings, Spouses, Kids
Bride, Groom, Mom, Dad, Siblings, Spouses, Kids, Grandparents
(and the repeat with the groom's side)
2. Be open to taking the photos somewhere other than the ceremony site.
I understand that sometimes there are older members of the family that may not be able to move around well to get photos other than at the ceremony site. But these photos are usually the ones that people (moms, especially) love to print. So, it's a great idea to move to wherever the best light and background is nearby for family photos!
3. Communicate with family prior to the wedding if they'll be in family photos.
When this doesn't happen, inevitably, some sibling or parent ends up at cocktail hour and forgets about family portraits after the ceremony or they may not have even known they were happening. So, be sure to communicate with the family members you would like included in the photos ahead of time. The rehearsal or rehearsal dinner are great times to give those family members a heads up! Or be sure to let your wedding coordinator know and they'll do the work of passing along that info!
4. Have appetizers available to family members during the family photos.
One of my favorite wait staffs ever brought out to the bride, groom, and family members a tray of appetizers and some waters while we were doing family photos. I absolutely loved this because sometimes the best apps go quickly and the family and bride and groom don't have a chance to eat the food that they're providing. Also, on a side note, I really love when this also happens during the just married portraits of the bride and groom! A flute champagne a bite of something delicious help make those moments even more special.
Hopefully this gives you a little hope that family photos can be a really wonderful and enjoyable experience and create photos that will be cherished for many years to come.