Formal Family Photos:

How to make the most of your time while planning for your formal family photos

Hey there, guys! Emily here— we hope you are all hanging in there during these crazy COVID-19 times. Things are interesting here at Casa de Warren. Tabor and I have transitioned to completely working from home, while our kiddos transition into distance learning. THE BABY WAS FINALLY BORN (on April Fool’s Day, go figure— ha!).  We’re soaking in the moments with our six little ones, and trying our very best to serve our existing clients by pouring out information.

Today’s blog will be covering formal family photos on a wedding day. We’ll talk about creating a list, who to include, how to NOT offend anyone who may not be included, and how to make the most of each precious minute on your wedding day.

Let’s jump on in!

For those curious, all images below were captured at St. Anne Catholic Church, Moore’s Flying M Ranch, St. Pius X Church,  and the Glass Chapel! 🙂


Chances are you know what I’m talking about when I mention wedding day formal photos, BUT if for some reason you don’t, let me fill you in. On your wedding day, there will be a time to take formal, posed photos with your family members and new spouse. This time frame *typically* follows the wedding ceremony, and includes family members like parents, siblings, and grandparents of the bride and groom.

Below you’ll find three steps to maneuvering formal family photos!

Step One: Make a “must have” list with your fiancé

I highly encourage you to sit down together and think about which images of your family are important to you in the *formal setting* (keep this setting note in mind, I’ll cover this in the second step).  At a MINIMUM, we recommend including your parents, siblings, and grandparents, although many people choose to include more extended family members. Like with any other aspect of your wedding day, the extent of these photos are completely up to you and your spouse! Jot these lists down, and remember, there are some photos that you may want of just you and a family member. (Example, a bride with her mom, bride with her dad, bride with both parents).

Step Two: Reception, anyone?

Think back to the point in Step One about being in the formal setting….Something to keep in mind, not every photo with family has to be in the formal setting! If you love the idea of getting a photo with your sweet Aunt Marge, but you don’t want to hold up the reception for much longer (or you just don’t want to keep her from the open bar), let’s plan on getting that photo at the reception!

Reception time is a great time to get the photos of your group of co-workers, sorority sisters, cousins, etc. Think, special photo….but maybe not so much needed in a formal setting. Makes sense, right?

Step Three: Craft the Final List Using Logistics

Okay, next is putting everything into motion and crafting that final shot list in a logistical fashion. What do I mean by logistical fashion? I mean, let’s clear that ceremony hall as quickly as possible by starting with the big groups. One more detail, start with one side first— either the bride or groom, whichever has the most amount of people present for family formals.

So, here’s a sample situation: Our dear bride wants to capture one extended photo of her entire family, followed by photos of the immediate family. That first photo on the list should be the big whopper— the one with all the extended family members. After that photo is taken, we then release the extended family, and move quickly through the remaining list of immediate family members.

Quick Tip:

During family formals, try to organize your shot list so that the subjects in the photos have to move as little as possible. This is especially important for elderly family members, or those with mobility issues. Example: If your grandmother is involved in the immediate family photos, order your formal shot list where all of grandmother’s photos are taken back-to-back. This will be the most efficient way to get quickly through your list.

Less people moving = less time spent = quicker entry into your reception


Guys, I hope this was a helpful blog post. I know it’s A LOT to cover in text, so if you have any questions, please feel free to shoot Tabor or me an email at

If you are looking for a Tulsa Wedding Photographer or a traveling Oklahoma Wedding Photographer, email us or call us at 918-902-5663. We’d love to serve you, your fiancé, and your families during this super exciting time!

And until this quarantine is over, stay sane, stay healthy!

Contact Us!

You Might Also Be Interested In: