Family formals; they might not be the most exciting part of the day (in fact, most brides find this the most stressful aspect of planning a wedding) and as a photographer, I am here to tell you three things:
1- It is natural to feel the pressure of family during the wedding planning process and wedding day so, don't worry!
2- We are equipped to handle family formals effortlessly
3- There is a way to make them easier (on everyone!)
I get it! Your family is most likely the most important aspect of your life, you are not only uniting with your other half, you will also be joining both of your families and you want to have those priceless moments captured on camera, especially if you still have living grandparents and great-grandparents.
To be very honest, family formals are not the most exciting part of the day for any photographer BUT we understand the importance of them and just like you, we want them to go as smoothly as possible, so here are a few tips to make them stress-free!
1- THE LIST
Staying ahead of the game and planning is my first key to success! A few weeks before my bride's wedding day, they receive a through questionnaire where they share with me their must-have family members for their family formals along with an example list of who should be included.
One of the most important aspects is to not include everyone! That doesn't mean that you can't get a picture with everyone later, or even at your cocktail hour or reception, but keep your family formals to your immediate family or closest family!
If you have a planner, your photographer and planner should communicate closely about your family formals and time should be allotted to family formals in your formal timeline. Aside from your wedding crew, communicating with your family is extremely important! Let me them know how things will go and where they need to be at what time.
Are they to stay behind after the ceremony? (if so, ask your officiant to announce that after your ceremony) Will you do family pictures after your first look? One of the most time consuming aspects of family formals is having to chase people down because they don't know where they are needed and that can really slow things down and interrupt the whole flow of portraits
Blended families - Make sure to inform your photographer of any awkward situation within your families or if you would require separate formals for each of divorced parents, for example.
3- ENLIST THEIR HELP
Moms, aunts or your best man and maid of honor most likely know everyone involved for the pictures, so who best to help gather everyone and line them up for pictures? Enlist their help! I normally carry 3 copies of family formals lists (with their first and last names) so I can call them by name when it's needed, but having someone who knows who's missing and who needed to be there is SO helpful! They have much better idea of it than us, since we haven't met most of them.
4- DO THEM EARLY
One of the MANY benefits of a First Look is that you get to do your family formals early on! That not only means everyone's makeup and hair will be fresh, but you will have time to enjoy your cocktail hour and more of your reception, leaving you two even more time to enjoy the party, interact more with your guests and take more pictures with friends and extended family.
I hope this has been insghtful and helpful to you bride to be!