Having a well thought out photo list for your wedding day can truly add to the overall quality of your wedding experience. When you iron out these details before the wedding day, it allows you the freedom to let go and be in the moment. I’m going to lay out a process that will help you create the perfect wedding day photo list.
1. Cut The Fluff
This list is not intended to be an ongoing list with every imaginable photo possible. You can trust that any adequate photographer will get the first kiss and those getting ready shots. Leaving these super-specific images off your list allows space for the beautiful moments that are unique to your day to emerge in a way that is natural and heartfelt. Keep this list for family and friend groupings only.
2. Ditch the Duplicates
I’ve often seen portrait lists come through with a lot of duplicate groupings. This oftentimes looks like this:
• The couple with Immediate Family #1 and then this same exact grouping without the new spouse.
This takes up time that is often not necessary. When it comes to which image you are going to choose to put in a wedding album or frame on your wall, you will likely only use the image with both you and your new spouse in the grouping. If you absolutely have to have the duplicate, go for it. Otherwise, err on the side of just including you both in all of the family photos.
3. Only Include the Must- Haves
No body wants to be cheesing for an hour straight as you filter through 50 different groups of photos. This will take away from the massive joy you are experiencing after just having said, “I do!” Keep the designated family portrait time for the photos you absolutely must have.
This is typically not the time that you want to ask all your college friends to stick around for. This time is mostly for family members and the wedding party. Create an “others portraits” sections for images that would be nice to have and grab those pictures during the cocktail hour and reception. As a photographer, I’m always happy to take any portraits throughout the night for anyone who asks. I usually suggest that the guests just gather any group and then pull me aside.
4. Combing Groups
Another way to keep portraits to a minimum is to combine groupings if possible. Instead of a portrait with one parent’s extended family and then the other, you could opt to just do one big extended family portrait for each side of the couple only. If you don’t need a photo with each aunt or uncle’s family, then combine them. Again, think about which image you’d put in the album.
A good rule of thumb is that each grouping can take 3-5 mins to organize and photograph. Your guests are enjoying themselves, and it can feel like herding cats on a wedding day. Somehow without fail that one family member has disappeared and everything comes to a standstill. Keeping your list succinct will help you enjoy the process.
5. Ok… but what about the parents?
I get it. It’s common that both sets of parents will have an opinion on what portraits should be taking place. This can be delicate to navigate, and you know your parents best. Listen to them, let them know you hear them, and truly consider their opinion. If you find that it’s just not a priority to have during the family portrait time, then suggest taking the images during the reception.
6. Tips for successful family portraits
Designate a point person on each side of the family. Choose someone who knows who everyone is and can wrangle a crowd. Your photographer doesn’t know what Aunt Milly looks like and it’s helpful to have this person know that they are in charge of helping find the right people.
If you have someone in a group portrait, let them know before the wedding that they are in a portrait and tell them when and where this will be happening. I have seen before that family members tend to wander off because they had no idea they were a part of the portrait time.
For portraits that are taking place right after the ceremony, it is vital that family members know not to leave the ceremony site. People are eager to use the restroom and can easily get sucked into grabbing a drink and a quick bit, but this can throw the flow of photos off. Promise them that it will be quick if they stick around and keep their ears open for their name.
I know that these portraits can feel daunting at times, but the truth is, your wedding is a monumental moment in your family’s life and these images will be treasured for decades to come. Putting time into having a fine tuned portrait list will leave you enjoying every moment of your wedding day with photos of your favorite people that you cherish.