10 Tips for Stress Free Family Portraits


It’s time for family photos and my top tips for stress free family portraits. Probably the 2nd most stressful part of the day after the getting ready portion– and understandably. You have lots of people to coordinate and organize, sometimes things can go haywire. But with these simple tips it will be smooth sailing! I hope you enjoy my favorite tips for stress free family portraits!

Would you like more planning tips? Take a look at the rest of the stress free wedding series:







stress free family portraits on your wedding day

#1 Email your photographer a family shot list

Include the family members name and relation to you. This way the photographer can go down a list asking for “Mom Tina, Grandma Betty, and Dad Bill”. Adding names to your shot list makes the process go so much smoother. This also ensures you get every family combination you want. When I first started wedding photography I would just have my couples the day of tell me who they wanted photos with, but amidst the craziness and movement it’s guaranteed to forget someone and cause unnecessary stress, plan them out before!

#2 Consult with your family (but give limitations)

Ask your mom or your grandma if there are any photos that are super important to them, they will love feeling included. But give them limitations. I like to encourage my couples to ask important family members for their 5 must have photos. You don’t want them to highjack the family portraits, because then they will go on for hours (and no one, no one wants that).

#3 And consult with your fiancé!

Very often I see only one side creating the shot list. Make sure it’s a mutual and agreed upon list. Also decide beforehand if you’d like photos of you both together or individuals with your family.

#4 Chat with your photographer about sensitive situations and physical limitations

This is super important to know. We don’t want any awkward moments like putting your parents together if they’re on bad terms or asking where grandma is if she’s not with us. Let us know beforehand and we’ll do everything in our power to keep things running smoothly. Additionally, let us know if anyone has any issues standing or moving because that will affect the set up for portraits (ie. if we need to add a chair or if we can’t move locations).

#5 Have your officiant announce family portraits after the ceremony

This helps so much! Family photos usually take around 2-3 minutes per different arrangement. But that time can skyrocket if we’re tracking down family members. By simply asking immediate family to stay seated for family photos you save so much time tracking down Uncle Bob who already wandered off to cocktail hour.

#6 Have a designated family portrait leader

The best person for this is someone that knows both sides of family (usually a sibling). But if not choose 1 person from each side. This person should know every person on the family shot list, if someone has wandered off, they’re in charge of tracking them down.

#7 Don’t forget your flowers!

Seems like a trivial tip, but it really balances out the photo and gives you something to do with your hands.

stress free family portraits on your wedding day

#8 Give yourself some cushion time in your timeline

It’s always better to have extra time. A well organized family portrait session usually takes me 30 minutes, but if you add lots of extra groupings or we can’t find people that time can increase greatly. If we finish early we can ask for additional groupings or have more time for romantic portraits!

#9 When in doubt, save them for the reception!

If we’re running low on time or your 2nd Aunt once removed (is that a thing) really wants certain photos, let them know that we can take them during the reception!

#10 Get silly!

Don’t be afraid to take a few more candid, silly photos. If you and your siblings always recreate a certain photo, do it! The formal photos are great but these are the images you’ll love looking back on.

I hope you liked this post about stress free family portraits. Next up on the Stress Free Wedding Series is wedding party photos! If you’re looking for a Colorado wedding photographer I’d love to chat with you! Please fill out a contact form here and I’ll be in touch within 24 hours.

let's work together!

Contact Us!

I'm so excited to hear more about your vision! Send me a message and I'll get back to you within 24-48 hours! 

follow along on the 'gram!