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One portion of the wedding day that can often cause some stress are the family formals. As a Northern Virginia wedding photographer, I have witnessed all kinds of different scenarios. I have seen family portrait time go completely smooth, where I have also seen it go completely haywire. The result has everything to do with planning & organization. The fact of the matter is, family formals don’t have to be stressful nor do they have to take up a large portion of portrait time. Today on the blog I will go over some key simple ways to keep family formal time short & efficient.

Timing is Everything

Once your ceremony is over, it’s usually crunch time between cocktail hour & your introductions into the reception hall. This is where it is important to make sure we work efficiently. The main reason being because we need to ensure that there is enough time for YOUR portraits. In the planning stages of your wedding, you made sure to create that perfect timeline to allow the best lighting for your own portrait time. You also have to keep in mind that as important as family formals are, your wedding day is essentially about you & your portraits (yes, I’m saying it’s ok to be a little selfish!). We need to make sure there is ample time to capture the variety and style that you desired to have for your very own portrait time. Lastly, you don’t want to feel rushed during your bride and groom portraits. This will only make you feel anxious, & as a result will show in your images. You deserve to be pampered & served with the best experience possible. Be sure to make ample time. So how does one create ample time? Keep reading!

Keep It Simple

Creating ample time can be a challenge, especially if you come from a large family. It’s possible that you may even have demanding photo requests from other family members (or friends!). My best advice to you is to keep it simple. I always recommend including your immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparents) into the family formal portion of the day. I know this may step on some toes of a few family members, but I always suggest capturing extended family (or other misc groupings) at the reception.

For example, one thing that I do with all of my brides is I always send out a questionnaire. On this questionnaire there will be a section where I will have them list out 10 different groupings of family portraits. I highly suggest you come up with a list for your photographer, if they do not ask you for one themselves. This is also a great time to plan this with your family members, so that this way they will know what to expect when it comes time for the family formals. By giving this list to your photographer, it can allow for them to work efficiently by planning the order of groupings ahead of time. This is also a great way for you to alert which family members should stay close by after the ceremony, instead of rushing off to cocktail hour.

Assign Someone in Charge

I always joke that the only part of the wedding day where I feel lost is during family formals, lol. This is mainly because I don’t know family members by name, or sometimes who is even family. As a result, it can take up more time. One suggestion I always make to my brides is to have them designate someone to be in charge of rounding up the family members for family formals.  This could be a family member, wedding coordinator, or even a close family friend. I would also advise that this person is well aware of exactly who is needed for family formals. This way there is no confusion about who is and isn’t needed. By having someone in charge, this can save so much time from having to go on a scavenger hunt to find the appropriate people. It also saves you, the bride, the stress & headache of having to do this yourself.

And that’s a wrap! Let’s be sure to avoid the unnecessary stress of family formals with proper planning and organization. It can be quick & easy…I promise! 😉

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The Key to Stress Free Family Formals

Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017


Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

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"Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance."
-Coco Chanel

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