Bride and groom with extended family

Can family photos ever really be easy? Yes! They can! I’ve been a a wedding photographer for over 10 years now and I’ve had a chance to see what works with family photos and what doesn’t. Here are some tips for easy family photos at your wedding.

Set Expectations For Family Photos

One of the most difficult things about family photos at a wedding is when family members wander. It makes sense that they would mingle! They see the reception starting and appetizers being served. Wine is being generously poured and friends that they haven’t seen in years are finally within reach. I would want to mingle too! They should want to be enjoying the reception.

But they just need to wait a few minutes. If you let the family members know that they really need to stick around for family photos after the ceremony, they are much more likely to stay. Many of them might just not know that they need to stay, so let them know ahead of time.

If you have a venue walkthrough with the wedding photographer before the wedding day, be sure to discuss where you would like family photos to be done. That way, you’ll know exactly where to tell your family to wait when the ceremony is over.

Designate a Wrangler

When those family members wander, you’ll need to have someone who can find them and bring them back. Ideally, you’ll want to assign one person from each side of the family to find the people who are needed for family photos. Your photographer won’t know what Aunt Nancy looks like, but someone in your family will.

Your photographer will have a list of people who are needed for the photos, so you’ll know who is coming up next and needed for the picture.

Bride and groom stand with family for a formal portrait at Cambria Pines Lodge

Create a Photo List

Where does your photographer get the list of people I just mentioned? From you. You’ll want to create a list of all the photos you would like after the wedding ceremony. Talk to your mom and be sure to get the photos that your family will want as well. There are very few times when so many family members are gathered together, so this is a rare opportunity to get those pictures. Your mom will likely have a few that are near and dear to her heart, so be sure to get her input. Don’t forget your soon-to-be mother-in-law too!

Your photographer will use this list to make sure no pictures are forgotten. If you need some guidance or a place to start on the list, talk to your photographer and get some ideas. She’ll likely have a short list to get you started.

Sensitive Situations

Be sure to inform your photographer about any sensitive situations in the family. If there are any divorces in the family or hard feelings between any family members, your photographer needs to know about it. There are many ways to position people away from each other so no one needs to feel awkward or uncomfortable standing next to someone they don’t like. If everyone is comfortable, they will look much happier in the photo.


All in all, communication is key. If you are able to communicate what you want and need to your family and photographer, everything will go smoothly. You’ll have a happy family that gets all the pictures they want and your wedding day photos will be easy for everyone.

Your photographer will be able to help any sticky situations. Just let them know ahead of time what to watch out for. Believe me, they have seen it all and they are prepared.

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