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

Maximize your photo session with this handy shot list.
by Maddy Sims
Tana Helene Photography

Don't want your wedding portraits to take hours? Neither do your guests. They can only mingle over cocktails without you for so long before getting antsy. Whether you're planning to snap group photos before or after the ceremony, send your photographer 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.) It's best to have a discussion 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. Of course, every family will look different, but use this handy list as a jumping off point for your shoot.

Another pro tip for sticking to the schedule is to ask participants to put the phones down, says Moesia Davis of Mo Davis Fine Art Photography. While your guests may be tempted to take their phones out and snap a quick picture, Davis says it can slow things down. "What happens is nobody knows where to look," she says. "That's why you hired a photographer. I understand [friends and family] want to get pictures, so I might allow them to step in after I get the shot." But pulling out your phone while the photographer is working will only confuse the group and slow things down. Trust that the photographer is a professional who knows what they're doing and ask your guests to keep their phones tucked away during pictures.

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.

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 family wedding photo groupings as a starting out point.

Couple

  • 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 photos, you'll want to capture your wedding party. Here are all the common wedding party groupings to get you inspired.

Couple

  • 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

Miscellaneous Friends and Family Wedding Photos

Next comes any other important people (or pets) in your life. Check out these other miscellaneous groupings you can do with your loved ones.

  • Couple with any pets
  • Candid, silly or relaxed shots
  • Family friends
  • High school friends
  • College friends
  • Work friends
  • Generation photos
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