Family Formals – How to Plan Them Effectively!

Wedding Tips

Hi friends! I hope y’all are having a great start to the New Year. Are you getting excited for everything 2019 has in store for us? I know I sure am!! This blog post is all about family formals and how to effectively execute them on your wedding day!

I wanted to start this year off by introducing more education posts on my blog. These are for my brides, potential brides, your friends, or just someone who enjoys reading advice in regards to weddings! If you find any of these education posts informative, entertaining, or helpful, share them with your friends and family. 🙂


Some Important Guidelines to Follow

Today’s blog post is all about family formals and how to effectively execute this task! To start, here are some great tips to keep in consideration when drafting your family formals list:

  • You don’t need every to wait until after the ceremony to do every single photo combination. For example, if you want a photo of yourself with your parents & each parent separately, do that before the ceremony. This will allow you to maximize your time you have during cocktail hour!
  • Family formals can typically be performed in 20-25 minutes during cocktail hour, so we have the rest of the time for bride & groom portraits and full wedding party photos. This is standard for the typical 10-15 groupings that most couples end up with! The more groupings you request, the longer it will take. It is all up to your guests to cooperate and be in the right place at the right time to make sure these get done efficiently. This is also a great example of why having a wedding coordinator can be helpful! That way, she can make sure grandma isn’t MIA during the photos she’s needed for!
  • If your family is very large and you end up having a list more than 15 groupings, I recommend saving some of the extended family formals (aunts, uncles, cousins, sororities, etc.) to do on the dance floor during the reception. That way, you will still have plenty of time for sunset photos and your cocktail hour won’t end up being an hour and a half!


A Few Ideas to Keep in Mind

  • Make sure to let me know if there are any awkward family situations (divorces, deaths, etc.). I may not otherwise know these situations since I’m not a family member. This will help me avoid bringing up any touchy or upsetting topics during family formals!
  • In the list you give me for your family formals, please make sure to include your family members’ names so I can call them out easily during portrait time. An example would be “#1. Bride and groom with bride’s parents (Janice and Eric)”.
  • Please remember that you don’t need to find a list of family formals from the internet and make that your list. These are your photos, not Google’s photos. Request the groupings you want and don’t let your family members take charge during this time. It can easily get hectic if a family member is requesting a bunch of groupings and you don’t even want those photos. Kindly let your family and guests know that you’ve given your photographer a list beforehand and if they have any requests, to do those during the reception. This will help prevent you from getting stressed out and will allow you to get to the reception (party) quicker! 🙂
  • Have the elderly & disabled members in photos at the beginning so they don’t have to wait around. This is especially important during winter and fall weddings so they don’t get cold!!


Sample Family Formals List

Here is a great family formals template that the majority of my clients follow! I hope this helps you!! 🙂

  1. Bride and groom with both immediate families & grandparents
  2. Bride and groom with groom’s immediate family & grandparents
  3. Bride and groom with bride’s immediate family & grandparents
  4. Bride and groom with all grandparents
  5. Bride and groom with groom’s grandparents
  6. Bride and groom with bride’s grandparents
  7. Bride and groom with both immediate families (parents & siblings)
  8. Bride and groom with groom’s immediate family (parents & siblings)
  9. Bride and groom with bride’s immediate family (parents & siblings)
  10. Bride and groom with all parents
  11. Bride and groom with groom’s parents
  12. Bride and groom with bride’s parents
  13. Bride and groom with all siblings
  14. Bride and groom with groom’s siblings
  15. Bride and groom with bride’s siblings


***From this list, my clients typically have either the bride or groom step out for each grouping so they have one with their families too. For example, “bride and groom with groom’s grandparents” would then turn into “groom with groom’s grandparents” so the bride would step out. Therefore, this would allow the groom to have a photo with his grandparents. I do these during all of these groupings and it’s very easy to just have someone step in & out!

Let me know if you think there’s any advice I left out for family formals down below! 🙂


Looking for more advice to help during your wedding planning phase? Check out more goldmine information here!

Subscribe to our mailing list to be the first to here more wedding planning information! Subscribers also receive jackpot information that doesn’t always get published to the public! There are perks to joining the mailing list club. Just a few include exclusive tips, first access to mini sessions & marathons, and first access to giveaways!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

follow along for behind-the-scenes, PHOTOS of our FAMILY, and tons of SESSION advice! 



Jessica Green Photography provides a stress-free and luxury portrait experience for busy mamas at her studio is located in Warrenton, VA. She serves the greater DC and Northern Virginia areas. She is also available for travel to areas including but not limited to Fredericksburg, Gainesville, Manassas, Alexandria, Stafford, Leesburg, Arlington, Reston, Herndon, Vienna, and Woodbridge. Jessica photographs simple, organic, and timeless newborn, maternity, family, and milestone photography in her studio and on location.