Formal Wedding Portraits: Ready. Set. Plan!


Planning Your Family Formal Wedding Portraits

  • Arm in arm with Aunt Bev…
  • Side by side with Grandma and Grandpa…
  • Both sets of parents together with you and your (new) spouse…

Get ready to channel your inner supermodel because once you say ‘I do’ it’s photo shoot time! Besides the ‘Romantic’s’ you’ll take with your spouse and bridal party, no wedding day photography session is complete without (at least a few) formal family portraits. But take it from our photography experts — deciding who gets to pose with you and groom post nuptials is something no bride should organize on the fly.

The Clock is Ticking

Most of these group combination photos will take place following the ceremony, especially when it comes to extended family members. Getting married at a church? Most will allow up to 30 minutes for formal images — this is where planning is key!  With each setup taking 2-4 minutes, that means you can expect roughly 12-15 wedding day formal images at the church. The next step is to…

family wedding photo in church

Prioritize Your People

Ask yourself, which images must be taken at the church and which can be taken throughout the day? Work with your wedding photographer to develop a priority list. There are some people whose presence in family formals is expected – you, your groom, parents and siblings. Beginning with your most immediate family members, you will begin adding in people that will form your blended families; both of you with each set of parents, combined parents, grandparents, etc.

Once you have completed your “must have” family formal combinations, it’s time to add on the photos of more extended family; a group shot of all the cousins, a photo with your aunt and uncle that traveled from the other side of the country to be at your special day. These photos don’t necessarily need to be taken at the church or chapel, but can be captured more candidly during cocktail hour or the reception.

BONUS TIP: Hiring two photographers helps… a lot. While your ‘main’ photographer can focus on core family, your second photographer can make friends or coworkers their priority — that way everyone is covered!  

family portrait at ceremony site

The List

Keep in mind — each family has unique needs that don’t fit to a “standard” list — so adjust accordingly, that’s where your wedding photographer comes in (once again). They’ll work with you to create a customized list of the formal photos for your wedding day. Here’s a start:

  • Bride, groom and officiant
  • Bride with bridesmaids
  • Groom with groomsmen
  • Bride and groom with bridesmaids
  • Bride and groom with groomsmen
  • Bride and groom with flower girl/ring bearer
  • Bride and groom with entire wedding party
  • Bride and groom with entire wedding party with ring bearer and flower girl
  • Bride and groom with bride’s parents
  • Bride and groom with groom’s parents
  • Bride and groom with both sets of parents
  • Bride with her siblings
  • Groom with his siblings
  • Bride and groom with bride’s extended family (grandparents, siblings)
  • Bride and groom with groom’s extended family (grandparents, siblings)

outdoor family portraits

Additional Combinations (not at ceremony site):

  • Bride with maid of honor only
  • Bride with each bridesmaid
  • Groom with best man only
  • Groom with each groomsmen
  • Bride and groom with maid of honor and best man
  • Bride with flower girl
  • Groom with ring bearer
  • Bride and groom with extended family (cousins, aunts, uncles)
  • Bride and groom with any special friends/guests in attendance
  • Bride and groom with pets, if part of wedding
  • Bride with groomsmen
  • Groom with bridesmaids
  • Generational photos (bride with her mother, grandmother, great-grandmother)
  • Bride with God-parents
  • Groom with God-parents

formal portrait at reception

At Mike Staff Productions, we’ve built our whole business around reclaiming the fun in your wedding planning. Ready to start?


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