Wedding Family Formals and Some Observations on Shot Lists

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aka: How Many Family Shots Do I Need?!

Shot Lists – Friend or Foe?

Dun, dun, duuuuun. You’ve probably heard of the ‘shot list’; that magic list that will make all your wedding photography dreams come true. The reality is, they are a bit of a photographer’s nightmare. We know every couple wants to get perfect shots of their wedding day, but as professionals, we don’t need a list of obvious requests like ‘get the kiss’ or ‘capture the bride coming down the aisle’ – we’d be pretty rubbish wedding photographers if we needed to be reminded about these iconic shots!

What is really great to have, on the other hand, is a list of wedding family formals that you’d like taken on the day. The wedding day can be hectic and there’s a lot to remember and do, so we want to help you make family photos as quick and painless as possible; that’s why we slot them in immediately after the ceremony, at your wedding venue or at a picturesque spot nearby. Wedding family formals are simple, posed images of you both with key family members. We understand that these shots become an important piece of family history, so we will handle them with the utmost care and attention to ensure everybody looks their best.

Wedding Family Formals & Group Shots: What Happens on the Day?

The best way to handle wedding family formals is to discuss group family shots with everyone before the wedding so that everyone knows where they’ve to go – and when – on the day. If you’ve decided you don’t want any family shots, make sure you tell your family so they aren’t surprised on the day – especially if they are expecting group pictures of everyone!

We would caution against doing more than 10-12 different combinations as this can become tiresome for the people involved and can really take time away from you both enjoying your day. Plus it hurts your face smiling for such a long time, for real. So, if we have the shot list beforehand, we can organise the shots in advance and make the whole process quicker.

The group shots may take up a lot more time than you think. You will need to schedule time after the ceremony for your formal family portraits; these usually take place at the ceremony site. Depending on your list of combinations we would suggest a minimum of 5 minutes per grouping and at least 30 minutes overall. And remember to schedule something for your wedding guests to do during this time; it can get boring waiting around for the reception to start while the couple is getting photos taken!

During the group shots, it’s helpful if you have a friend/aunt/nephew who is familiar with your families to assist if we need someone to fetch any relatives who have wandered off during your formal photos. The ‘fetcher’ will become your champion when you’ve lost someone and time is running on during the formals.

Wedding Photos: Some Other Ideas

It’s becoming very popular in the United States to do ‘first looks’ before the ceremony and do the formal photos before the ceremony too. It has to be noted though that weddings in the US generally start later on in the day while UK weddings start a good bit earlier. So this might not always be a viable option! Though it worked out perfectly for Annie & Catherine below as they were getting ready at the same location – too cute!!

The Wedding Party

Then we have the wedding party portraits, pictures of the gang, you and your BFFs. These can be quick posed shots of your attendants or they can be fun and candid. What we want is for you to enjoy them, so if you and your homies are a bit weird, then let’s get weird and we’ll capture all the fun and frolicks. If you all are too cool for school than an editorial type (think group shots in vogue) setup might be right for you.

Just the Two of You

…And then it’s just the two of you. We would say to schedule at least 30 minutes (and if we can push it – another 15 minutes after dinner). These are the first pictures of you both – just married and glowing with happiness – so they are really important photos. Make sure you accommodate some time for these shots – you will be glad you did, as they tend to be the wedding photos you’ll cherish for a lifetime. Some of the best wedding images we’ve seen were taken the hour right before sunset. This ‘golden hour’ is the most beautiful time of day and makes a wonderful setting for unforgettable photos.

We can assist you in choosing the right images, backgrounds and poses for your wedding photos – whether they are traditional shots or something a little bit more quirky. Take a look at our favourite wedding photos from some of the loveliest weddings we’ve worked on!

Planning your wedding and looking for a photographer? Contact us now to get this show on the road! 

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