Wedding Resources - How Long Should I Allow for Family Photos

Wedding Resources - where we are answering your questions about wedding planning!  If you are like most couples, you've never done this before, so it's totally understandable to have questions!  And we are here to help!  Today we are talking about how much time should you allow for family photos and we hope that this helps you plan a stress free wedding day timeline!  

Your wedding day is one of the few days of your life where you will have most of your friends and family around you, so of course, you will want pictures with them!  But how long should you plan for them?  When should you take them?  What if your venue or planner told you that 10 or 20 minutes is enough but your photographer tells you different?  Today we are going to unpack ALL of that and hopefully help you make the best decision for you!  

Regardless of what anyone tells you, family photos take time.  Depending on the timeline for your wedding you are either doing your photos right before or right after you say "I do" which means emotions and excitement are running high!  And you want it to be that way!  But that also means you don't want to be rushed or stressed too!  As part of what we do with our couples, we send out a survey before the wedding that asks our couples for any and all groupings they want in terms of family portraits.  Below is an example list we got from an actual couple!  

Bride with just her parents, bride and groom with her parents, bride with only her siblings, bride and groom with siblings and spouses, bride with grandma, bride mom and grandma, bride and groom and grandma, bride groom and aunts and uncles, bride and her aunt Shelly, Bride and groom and Aunt Shelly, Bride groom and all the cousins.  

That was only the bride's side, but that was 11 poses.  The groom's list was similar and had 10 shots on it and they also asked for 4 other group shots as well.  So that's 25 poses!  Which is actually quite a lot!  Even at a minute a piece (which is impossible!), right there is 25 minutes just for family photos!  

We typically tell our couples to allow 3 minutes per grouping and suggest that there is a total 10 groupings, so a half hour for family photos.  We typically can do it in less than 30 minutes but this is a great guideline!  And if your family/families are really large, we will often suggest doing just immediate family then and planning time during the reception for more family photos as well! 

Another option that a lot of our couples choose is to do a first look!  This allows you to see each other in a relaxed, personal experience prior to the ceremony AND allows for you to have a lot more options for photos!  With this kind of timeline, you can have a lot more time for photos before hand and even do a few bigger family shots right after the ceremony!  This also allows you to attend your cocktail hour!

If a first look isn't for you but you want a lot of family photos, another option is to do as many family photos with each of you before hand.  For example, photograph the brides family before hand and separately photograph the groom/other bride's family before hand as well!  This allows half of the poses to be done and cuts down time later!

So you have a lot of options!  No matter what you do, make sure you make a list of those must have family photos and give it to your photographer!  Family plays a huge role in your life and in your wedding day, but without knowing who is important to you, its hard for your photographer to make sure they capture the right people!  So make that list!  And then make sure you talk over what you want with your photographer too!  

And because who doesn't love a little inspiration, here are a few of our favorite family photos!