• Tara Hollow

Guide to Family Formals at Your Wedding

As you gear up for your big day, there is so much to think about and so many tasks to do. The one and only photo shot list I will ask you for is family formals. These are the posed, formal images I will take of the bride and groom with their family members on the wedding day. Typically the family formals are done immediately following the ceremony, but on occasion we are able to accomplish them just prior to the the ceremony if the bride and groom have done a first look.

When considering who to include in your family formals, think about which pictures you're going to want to hang in your home, pass down to your children and which images will mean something to you if a loved one passes away. I know that sounds morbid to think about for such a special occasion, but that's life and I am forever grateful for the portrait of just me and my grandparents on my wedding day. Are generational portraits important to you (Bride, Bride's Mom, Bride's Grandma together)? If you have a huge family like I do, remember that you can always take photos with your aunts, uncles, cousins, and other extended family members during the reception. Limiting the number of people included in family formals really helps to cut down on stress for the bride and groom and the time needed for photos.

It is important to provide me with the list no later than the week of the wedding. This gives me time to reorganize the list if needed breaking out the bride and groom's sides, the larger group shots first, and putting grandparents at the top of the list in case they aren't physically capable of hanging around for too long in the heat. I print the list, bring it with me to the wedding reading straight off it and marking through the shots listed. Doing so ensures I snap the images that were requested and makes better use of yours and your guests time so that you all can get back to the celebration. If you do not plan to have a wedding coordinator, I recommend designating a family member that knows everyone to assist me with gathering family and calling out names to make it more efficient.

Below is a list I've compiled to help you get started. When sending me your list, please also include names so I can call them out to speed up the process. Family formals usually only take up 20 minutes of your big day because we have worked together to plan ahead.

Bride’s Side

  • Bride and groom with bride’s maternal grandparents (Troy and Jo)

  • Bride with grandma (Jo)

  • Bride with grandma and mom (Jo and Selena)

  • Bride with bride’s paternal grandparents (Doug and Erma)

  • Bride and groom with bride’s immediate family (bride’s parents, siblings, and siblings’ spouses and children)

  • Bride with siblings (Loree, Bart, Faith and Landon)

  • Bride with mom (Selena)

  • Bride with dad (Terry)

  • Bride with both parents (Selena and Terry)

  • Bride and groom with bride’s parents (Selena and Terry)

Groom’s Side

  • Groom and bride with groom’s maternal grandparents (George and Patricia)

  • Groom and bride with groom’s paternal grandparents (Chip and Joanna)

  • Groom and bride with groom’s immediate family (groom’s parents, siblings, and siblings’ spouses and children)

  • Groom with siblings (Beth, Liz, and Katie)

  • Groom with mom (Davina)

  • Groom with dad (Ralph)

  • Groom with both parents (Davina and Ralph)

  • Groom and bride with groom’s parents (Davina and Ralph)

Both Sides

  • Bride and groom with both sets of parents (Selena, Terry, Davina and Ralph)

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