What’s a Family Formal Shot List?

Family formals are one of the most important times on a wedding day. Every family is unique and it’s important to document them your family members. Often times, there is a limited time to get family photos so it’s important to prepare a Family Formal Shot List. This is a list that you put together that groups family members into different photo groups for your wedding. Note, that you can include important close friends as well. Friends often become family and it’s important to photograph them as well.

When To Do Family Formals?

Depending on whether you do a First Look or not determines on when we can do Family Formals. If you do a First Look, we can get some of the Family Formals done before the ceremony if there is time. I often suggest we can get immediate family out of the way, as they are usually close by getting ready with you guys. Then after the ceremony, we can take the Extended Family Formals. If it is not possible to get immediate family prior to the ceremony then we need to capture all Family Formals after the ceremony. Keep in mind some venues, or churches have time limits that we can spend after the ceremony doing Family Formals.

Why Do You Need A Family Formal Shot List

Family formals are one of the only times of the wedding day that is slightly out of my control. I don’t know who is who and don’t know who are the “VIP” family members are. If you were to ask me, “Can you gather up Aunt Jane’s family now?” I wouldn’t know who to call up. That’s why a family formal shot list is important as well as having a designated family member to help out with rounding up everyone.

How Much Time Is Needed for Family Formals?

Family photos can take up to 3-5 minutes per group. Now this is just a general rule that I advise my clients to plan for, but it is usually a little quicker. More often than not, couples think they will get 30 different family groups in 30 minutes. And although this not entirely impossible, it is usually really difficult. Having that many people gathered for photos can get a little distracting. And often, family members walk off to the bathroom or get a drink at cocktail hour.

A Few Must-Haves For Family Formal Photos

I have a few standard family groups that I always get at each wedding, but it is practically impossible for me to know who is important to gather for your family photos aside from these.

  • Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents
  • Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents + Siblings + Kids
  • Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents + Siblings + Kids + Grandparents
  • Bride and Groom with Groom’s Parents
  • Bride and Groom with Groom’s Parents + Siblings + Kids
  • Bride and Groom with Groom’s Parents + Siblings + Kids + Grandparents
  • Both sides combined with just Parents
  • Both sides combined with just Parents + Siblings + Kids + Grandparents

Extended Family Formals

I advise clients to start with their immediate family first, these are typically the must haves. Then I suggest to we start doing extended family. Depending on how much time we have, there are a couple of ways of doing extended family. The first way is you can do each family individually, just understand this takes longer. If we are pressed for time or there are a lot of family groups, then I suggest we do whole sides of the parental sides.

  • Bride and Groom with Bride’s Mom’s Family
  • Bride and Groom with Bride’s Dad’s Family
  • Bride and Groom with Groom’s Mom’s Family
  • Bride and Groom with Groom’s Dad’s Family

Photos With Friends

If you have a core group of friends outside of your Wedding Party, then it’s important to snap a photo with them as well. This could be friends from school, childhood friends, work friends and so on. If there isn’t time for them before or after, then we can totally get photos of them during the reception. Typically your friends will come up to your table to congratulate you and myself or my second shooter will be right there to capture it all.

In Conclusion…

Now of course every wedding is unique and the Wedding Day Timeline changes, that is why I wrote up an Ideal Wedding Day Timeline guide. This goes into all the different parts of the wedding day and realistic times for each section. Of course, you don’t have to follow it strictly, but in my experience, that is the ideal time for each section. So be sure to create a Family Formal Shot List, have a designated family member to help gather different groups, and be sure to let each family know that they will be needing to stay for photos ahead of time.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Happy Planning!