How to Take the Best—and Most Efficient—Family Wedding Portraits

Maximize your photo session with this handy shot list.
The Essential Family Wedding Photos Shot List
Photos (left to right): Evan Rich Photography, Merari Teruel Photography,Design: Tiana Crispino
kim forrest the knot
Kim Forrest
kim forrest the knot
Kim Forrest
Senior Editor
  • Kim writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in etiquette and planning advice
  • Kim manages freelance writers for The Knot Worldwide
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Kim was Associate Bridal Editor at Washingtonian magazine and Associate Fashion Editor at Conde Nast’s Brides Local magazines
Updated Jun 14, 2023

Don't want your family wedding photos to take hours? Neither does anyone else! Photo sessions take time away from other important parts of the day, so cooperation and efficiency are key. Whether you're planning to snap group photos before or after the ceremony, work with your photographer to come up with a straightforward shot list of every family wedding photo and wedding party photo grouping you'd like taken. (Bonus points if you include their photos too so your photographer knows who to look for.) Your photographer can also provide some helpful tips on how to pose for family wedding photos. Of course, every family will look different, but use this handy list as a jumping off point for your shoot.

Ready to plan an efficient, effective family wedding photo session? Check out our list of traditional groupings below and use it to plan your own wedding photos.

In this article:

Who Is Usually in Family Wedding Photos?

When it comes to who to include in family wedding photos, keep it to your nearest and dearest. "I normally tell couples to focus on immediate family," says Megan Noll of Megan Noll Photography in Cincinnati, Ohio. "This includes parents, siblings and grandparents and significant others of those members, when it's applicable. If extended family, like aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. is important to you and your family, consider having a big group photo with each side immediately after the ceremony and communicating that with each person you want included before the wedding day."

Almost as important as who's included in your family wedding photos are those people you'd prefer not to include. It's best to have a discussion with your wedding photographer before the actual day about people you don't want included—like siblings' new significant others or distant relatives—so you don't get held up during the session. This will maximize your photo sessions.

Traditional Family Wedding Photo Groupings

If you're not sure where to begin when it comes to planning your family wedding photos, we have you covered. We laid out all the most common groupings in this wedding family photo list template as a starting out point.

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  • Couple alone together (obviously!)
  • Couple with all parents
  • Couple with both of their immediate families
  • Couple with siblings and siblings' spouses

Partner One

  • Partner One with their parents (or stepparents)
  • Partner One with each parent separately (if divorced)
  • Partner One with their immediate family
  • Partner One with their grandparents
  • Partner One's parents (stepparents) alone together
  • Partner One's grandparents alone together
  • Partner One with their sibling(s)

Partner Two

  • Partner Two with their parents (or stepparents)
  • Partner Two with each parent separately (if divorced)
  • Partner Two with their immediate family
  • Partner Two with their grandparents
  • Partner Two's parents (stepparents) alone together
  • Partner Two's grandparents alone together
  • Partner Two with their sibling(s)

Traditional Wedding Party Groupings

Now that you've taken care of the family wedding pictures, you'll want to capture your wedding party—bridesmaids/men/people, groomsmen/ladies/people, young attendants and more. Here are all the common wedding party groupings to get you inspired.


  • Couple with Partner One's wedding party
  • Couple with Partner Two's wedding party
  • Couple with the entire wedding party
  • Couple with flower girl and ring bearer

Partner One

  • Partner One with their wedding party
  • Partner One with Partner Two's wedding party
  • Partner One with flower girl and ring bearer

Partner Two

  • Partner Two with their wedding party
  • Partner Two with Partner One's wedding party
  • Partner Two with flower girl and ring bearer

Divorced Family Wedding Photos

When it comes to couples who have divorced parents, the family photo shot list really depends on everyone's relationships and comfort level. "I encourage all of my couples to include your family in your decisions about pictures several weeks prior to the wedding day," Noll says. "This helps set and manage expectations. It also helps the family to relax and trust that the photographer is going to make sure everything gets accomplished."

It's also essential to let your photographer know of any concerns about those being photographed. "Your photographer should be a safe space for you to vent, because they can help you navigate any potential awkwardness," Noll says. "If Mom and Dad aren't on speaking terms, it's probably going to feel pretty uncomfortable for everyone to have them in a photo together. When there is a divorce, this does generally mean that we'll need more combinations and more time to complete them, so make sure you factor that time in with your photographer."

As an example, Noll provided a wedding family photo list from a recent event where one partner had divorced parents. In this situation, the parents had remarried, and everyone got along well. If your parents don't get along, you might skip the photos where the parents pose together.

  • Partner One with mother
  • Partner One with mother and stepfather
  • Partner One with stepfather
  • Couple with Partner One's mother and stepfather
  • Couple with maternal grandparents
  • Partner One with maternal grandparents
  • Partner One with both parents
  • Partner One with mother, stepfather, father and stepmother
  • Couple with Partner One's mother, stepfather, father and stepmother
  • Partner One with father
  • Partner One with father and stepmother
  • Partner One and stepmother
  • Couple with Partner One's father and stepmother
  • Couple with paternal grandparents
  • Partner One with paternal grandparents

Fun Family Wedding Photo Ideas

Family wedding photos don't have to be stiff, boring and overly posed—there are lots of ways to take some fun, funny and unique pics with your entire crew. "I like to take the opportunity to take some relaxed, candid photos," says Noll. "Many times, I'll tell the family to look at each other and giggle right after I get the traditional shot and it makes for a really sweet picture of them all interacting together naturally." Here are a few additional ideas for some fun family wedding photos:

  • Family members holding props—streamers, sparklers, wearing sunglasses, etc.
  • Family members making funny faces or laughing together
  • Couple and each set of parents kissing side by side
  • Couple and family members walking together
  • Parents kissing child on each cheek
  • Children making funny faces, or just being kids
  • Siblings being silly, picking each other up, etc.

Additional Friends & Family Wedding Photos

Don't forget about the other important people (or furry friends) in your life. Check out these other miscellaneous groupings you can do with your loved ones.

  • Aunts, uncles and cousins
  • Couple with any pets
  • Family friends
  • High school friends
  • College friends
  • Work friends
  • Generation photos

Family Wedding Photos Frequently Asked Questions

Wrangling all of your VIPs for the family photo session can be tricky, but your photographer is there to help.

How Long Do Family Photos Take at a Wedding?

According to Noll, if you're just focusing on your most immediate family members (parents, grandparents and siblings) and don't have a huge family, you can expect to spend about 20 minutes on family wedding photos ("as long as everyone is present and eager to participate," notes Noll). " If the groupings have more people (think extended family), you'll want more time, and you should plan to budget 2 minutes for each additional combination," says Noll. Note that this timeframe is just for family photos, and doesn't include the entire wedding party, which usually adds at least another 30 minutes to the wedding-day timeline.

Should You Include Family Photos in Your Wedding Album?

"Most people do include a healthy chunk of family photos in their wedding album," says Noll. "It does, however, depend on the closeness of the relationship. As you can imagine, closer relationships are prioritized in the album design process. It definitely is not expected that you include each combination of family pictures, but a couple of the people you care most about usually make a debut in the album."

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