Guide for Family Photos

There are so few times in your life that your whole family is in one place and well-dressed, so lets make time for some photos of everyone together!


  1. FIRST, THINK ABOUT IT: Start by taking a moment to think about the formal photos that you imagine having after your wedding. When you imagine sending out holiday cards, or looking at your wall of photos in 30 years, what photos are there? Maybe you have a tradition of taking photos with your siblings, or a photo with all grandparents. If there are any photos that are “MUST HAVES”, please write those down.
  2. LIMIT THE NUMBER: Families come in a lot of different forms, and so there isn’t a “one size fits all” list to start from, but in general we will focus on your immediate families (any parents, siblings, spouses or kids of siblings, and grandparents). When you are putting together your list, try to aim for 10-15 total groupings.
  3. LARGE GROUPS: Larger groups take more time. For any photo of more than 15 people, plan for about 15 minutes
  4. KEEP IT ORGANIZED: When you are writing your list, it helps to keep it organized! That way, family members don’t have to sit down, and then get it up again, and then sit and wait for another photo. I’ll aim to take photos in the most efficient way possible but it also helps if you can write down the name and relationship of people in your list (for example, “Becca’s immediate family – Becca, Jim, Ingrid (mom), Josiah (dad), Chris, Karen, Beth, Grant (siblings)”
  5. THINK OF NEEDS: If you have older relatives who have limited mobility (like grandparents) or little kids with nap schedules in your family, we can aim to take photos with them at the end or the beginning of the photos, so that they don’t have to wait during all the other groupings
  6. TELL THEM. AGAIN: Once you finalize your family photo list, make sure to tell your family what to expect. The best way to do this is to print a list of your family photos and give it to your family, tell them about it at the rehearsal dinner, and remind them again. If a photo is important to you, I don’t want to miss it because someone didn’t realize they had to show up early or left before photos were finished.
  7. EXTENDED FAMILY: If you want to take extended family photos (like, all of your cousins, aunts, uncles, etc), I recommend making time at the reception, often at the end of the social hour is a perfect time to get everyone together. Sometimes it makes sense to do these immediately after the ceremony before people have dispersed. Either way, make sure to communicate to your family when they have to be around for photos. I also recommend assigning a family member for each large grouping (a cousin or an aunt, for example) who is in charge of making sure that everyone is present for the photo and doesn’t wander off.
  8. THINK ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS: I want to make sure that everyone feels as comfortable as possible, and also that I place people together in the ways that best show their relationships. Please let me know if of any divorced or deceased immediate family, if anyone is hard of hearing, has trouble standing, etc.


Unless you have a very large family or more than 15 groupings, you can plan for family photos to take about 30 minutes. I recommend allowing 45 minutes for family photos before the ceremony so that we have some extra time in case anyone runs behind. I also recommend allowing an additional 45-60 minutes for photos of the wedding party and the couple.


The most important part of organizing your photos is deciding if you will see each other before the ceremony or not.

If you are planning to see each other and taking most of the photos before the ceremony, then we will start is a first look between the two of you, photos of the two of you as well as your wedding party, and then your family can arrive for immediate family photos towards the end. We will finish with any groupings that has family with limited mobility or schedule (ie, grandparents, little kids, etc)

If you are planning to take all family photos after the ceremony, then the order is basically reversed and we will start with family groupings and grandparents, and then end with photos of the two of you and the wedding party.


Every family is different – some are made of friends, or tons of half siblings, or two sets of parents, or only 1 person. Whatever family means to you is what you should capture – you are not bound by any rules, except to be true to what you and your spouse would like! Here is a sample list as a starting point, your list should be modified to reflect your own wishes and family!

Your side:
You with each parent
You with parents
Couple with your parents
Couple with your immediate family (your parents, siblings, and any sibling spouses and kids)
Couple with your grandparents
You with siblings

Your Partner’s side:
Partner with each parent
Partner with parents
Couple with Partner’s parents
Couple with Partner’s immediate family (parents, siblings, and any spouses and kids)
Couple with Partner’s grandparents
Partner with siblings

Yes, lets make a list that reflects YOUR family! When you have more family, we add more groupings! I’m happy to brainstorm this with you.

Generally, I like to think of family groupings as having two “end uses”.

The first “end use” is for YOU – what is your immediate family like from your perspective? That will probably be a large group portrait with all your parents, step parents, siblings, step siblings, their spouses and kids and your grandparents.

The second “end use” is for your parent – what is the immediate family like from their perspective? This might involve two different large family photos for your side, or maybe even more! Family comes in so many different ways, we can make sure to incorporate yours into your photos.

Here is a sample:

  • You with your mom
  • You and partner with your mom and stepparent
  • Couple with your mom, her spouse, and any siblings and grandparents on that side
  • You with dad
  • You and partner with your dad and stepparent
  • Couple with your dad, his spouse, and any siblings and grandparents on that side


If you have attendants for your wedding, We’ll want to include them, too! This list can generally be more casual, but I would recommend the following:

  • You with all attendants on your side
  • Your partner with all attendants on their side
  • You and your partner with any kids (ringbearers, flowergirls, etc)
  • You and your partner with all attendants include ushers, ringbearers, flowergirls
  • If you have time, we can also plan on getting a photo of you with each of your attendants