All your Family Formal questions answered in one place! So, let’s be honest, for most people . . . family formals are not the favorite. I know this, you know this. That’s okay. However, we also know that we all really want the Family Formal photos.
For most of us, Weddings are the one time when our whole (or hopefully most) of our family is together in the same place, at the same time, for a joyous occasion. It seems crazy to not take advantage of that! Snapping a few pictures of the whole family is a no-brainer. Think about it, everyone is already dressed up, looking their best. The family is all together and likely prepared for photos. No coordinating on your end at all, (that’s my job). No figuring out schedules or weather rescheduling, no big time commitment.
Here’s the other side to this. Life is truly unpredictable and even though I don’t want to have to type it out, there is a stark reality to to Family Formals. Again, life is unpredictable. I have lost count of the families who have told me that, the family formal photos of (insert name here) wedding day are the last ones they have of everyone together. They go on to tell me how they got them printed and hang them proudly on their walls. And, in that moment, I know they are so much more grateful to have that photo than they ever could have imagined.
So, yes the Family Formals on your Wedding are extremely important! Also, they can be fun! Stay with me here. If I’m your Wedding Photographer we are not going to spend hours on Family Formals. We are not going to take hundreds of stiff pictures with a boring backdrop. Promise.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about Family Formals:
Who should be in my Family Formals? This is the best part of it. YOU CHOOSE. You and your new spouse get to choose. I’ve had couples include every Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, and Friend. And then I’ve had couples go with just close immediate family. There are no hard feelings. This is your day, include who you’d like. It is that simple.
How long do Family Formals take? The average is 20-30 minutes. Again, I’ve photographed weddings that took much shorter and a select few that took a little longer. I’ve never gone over 40 minutes, ever. It’s not necessary, regardless of how many groupings you would like.
How do I prepare for Family Formals? So, part of your ‘Wedding Homework’ is to come up with this list (example below). Sit down with your fiancé and list all your groupings. I’ll ask for this list a few months out and it to be finalized and sent about 3-4 weeks out from your Wedding date so we can rearrange or make time accommodations accordingly.
Can my friends be in Family Formals? YES! Any groupings you want. Your day! Want one with your officiant? Awesome, put it on the list. If it’s on the list we will get it.
What if we have step-parents or hard situations? I get a version of this question often. First, know that it’s okay. Every single family has a situation that need some navigating. Next, when you list your Family Formals just make notes for me in there to avoid any awkwardness on your Wedding Day. We will discuss all this prior so that we are on the same page.
When do Family Formals typically take place? Typically in the Wedding Timeline, Family Formals take place immediately following the ceremony. If possible, it’s easiest to have the MC/Officiant, whoever is helping to run the show, announce that (whoever needs to stay- usually they say immediate family) meets at (specific pre determined location) and the rest of the guests are released to the cocktail/reception. However, you can always prep those on your list ahead of time for this as well. I’ve also done Family Formals after the first look, before the ceremony. Having an allocated time and place to meet up with those on your Family Formal list really helps not have to hunt down people and the process go a lot smoother.
Overall, Family Formals are nothing to stress about! But, absolutely worth the little amount of time and energy to make them happen. Truthfully, as a Wedding Photographer, I’ve taken thousands of Family Formal pictures and I can honestly say- this is part of my job and I am happy to do it! If you are planning a Wedding and wondering what else you can do in the days and weeks leading up to it, I’ve got you covered with an easy checklist.
Here is an example of a family formal list from a recent wedding:
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