Wedding Day Family Portraits

a guide

Family or group portraits may not be the most scintillating part of your wedding day, but it’s certainly something that you won’t regret having taken the time to have captured. A wedding is often one of the rare occasions when entire families are gathered together, and a photograph with your parents, siblings, nieces and nephews will be treasured. Such images become increasingly precious in the future when one of these people may have passed away.

I strongly recommend that you make a list of each group that you would like to have captured together in a formal portrait on the day. If you make this list a couple of weeks out from the day, this will give you time to remember any groupings that may not have initially occurred to you. If you don’t make a list beforehand and leave it to the wedding day, you run the risk of forgetting some people or groupings, which you will then never have the chance to have captured on the day of your wedding, if ever. It can also take considerably more time, as people who have participated in one group will wander away, unaware that they may be called back for a different grouping.

I just love everything about this image. How could you not enjoy this young groom’s reaction to his mum fixing his new bride’s dress in preparation for a family portrait? And the gorgeous smile on said bride!

When you are constructing your wedding day timeline, I recommend that you allow three to five minutes for each group portrait. This gives time for everyone required to be gathered together, and given some simple direction as to how to stand so that you have a portrait that every participant will love. Images with fewer people take less time, and if you have a lot of people in one photo, this can take more time. Although I endeavour to get through these images quickly, mindful that many brides and grooms tire of this portion of the day, I also take the time to ensure that each image is beautiful, with every person in it looking their best.

To that end, note that I am going to take multiple photographs of each group, so that I can get one where every person is looking at the camera and smiling. You would be amazed at how many shots it can take to achieve this feat!

Although you have a better idea of the level of patience that you and your fiancé (or, husband or wife, by that time!) will have in standing and smiling for these images, in my experience most couples have hit their limit after about 45 minutes, which allows for around ten groups.

To help keep things moving along, saving you time and stress, I suggest that you nominate a person from each of your family’s to whom you can give your list, who can gather together the people needed for the next group, as the portraits are being taken. This is easiest if the people nominated to gather the people, know the people. You should also pre-warn everyone who is to be part of a formal portrait, so that they don’t wander off while portraits are being taken.

To help you get started in creating your list of formal portrait groupings, following are some suggestions of combinations that you may like to have captured. We start with gathering all of your friends and families together for a photo of everyone. If we do this one first, those who are not to feature in formal portraits can leave for the reception, or otherwise wander off. Then we start with the bride and groom and build up from there.

Bride and Groom

Bride with Bride’s father

Bride with Bride’s mother

Bride with Bride’s mother and sisters

Bride and Groom with Bride’s parents

Bride and Groom with Bride’s parents and siblings

Bride and Groom with Bride’s parents, siblings, sibling’s partners and children

Bride and Groom with Bride’s extended family

Groom with Groom’s father

Groom with Groom’s father and brothers

Groom with Groom’s mother

Bride and Groom with Groom’s parents

Bride and Groom with Groom’s parents and siblings

Bride and Groom with Groom’s parents, siblings, sibling’s partners and children

Bride and Groom with Groom’s extended family

These groupings are, of course, suggestions only and may not suit your family dynamic at all.

To summarise, here are my four tips to ensure that this portion of your day runs smoothly:

(a) think about what groups you would like to have captured;

(b) ensure that you allow enough time for each group to be captured without the stress of having to be rushed;

(c) be prepared to stand and smile for that amount of time and

(d) choose at least one “assistant” to gather together the people required for the next portrait.


As always, I am more than happy to offer advice to my brides and grooms should you need it. Just get in touch!