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How to Create Your Family Photo Shot List (with full sample list!)

Now that we’ve reviewed how to prepare your family for their photos, let’s review how to create your family photo shot list!

Creating a shot list ahead of your wedding is essential for getting through the family photo portion of the day. Chances are, your photographer will lead you through this process. Each photographer has their own approach to this, but below is the process that I go through with my own couples.

How to Create Your Family Photo Shot List

How to Create Your Family Photo Shot List

The first step is to decide who will be included in your family photos. Typically, there are two main groups of people — immediate and extended family. For most of my couples, the immediate family list is the main focus. Whereas most extended family members don’t arrive until just before the ceremony and these photos tend to be a little more informal, it’s typical for us to look at that list separately. Some couples choose to do photos with each side of their extended families, others are content with just their immediate family photos. Think about your own family relationships to decide which photos you want with extended family members.

For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll focus on the immediate family. Typically, this included parents, siblings, and any sibling spouses or children. Grandparents are also included when we know that they’ll be present for the immediate family photo time (if you’re doing a first look, they probably won’t arrive until later in the day, but not always).

Sample Family Photo Shot List

Below is the sample family shot list that is sent to all of my couples. We use this as a starting point and then customize to fit their particular family and any dynamics. For most families, we plan for ~30 minutes of time in the overall photography timeline.

We start with the immediate family of Partner A:

Couple with Partner A’s Immediate Family (Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Nieces, Nephews)

Couple with Partner A’s Parents

Couple with Partner A’s Siblings

Partner A with their Parents

Partner A with Mom, Partner A with Dad

Couple with Partner A’s Grandparents

A photo of the couple with each set of parents and/or siblings:

Couple with both sets of Parents

Couple with both sets of Siblings

And then we continue with the immediate family of Partner B:

Couple with Partner B’s Immediate Family (Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Nieces, Nephews)

Couple with Partner B’s Parents

Couple with Partner B’s Siblings

Partner B with their Parents

Partner B with Mom, Partner B with Dad

Couple with Partner B’s Grandparents

Couple with all family members if time allows

Ordering the Shot List – Taking Family Dynamics into Account

Once we know who will be in your family photos and which of the above photos are applicable to your family, we’ll create the official list. I like to add in the names of your parents and siblings to help streamline the process on your wedding day.

Below is a sample family shot list for a couple we’ll call Michelle and Tony. Both of their parents are still married and they each have at least one sibling. You’ll see that Michelle also has a grandmother that is able to be to the venue ahead of the ceremony for these photos — I’ll group those photos together so that she isn’t standing for too long between the photos she’s needed for.

Order is important! I like to start with smaller groups and add people to create the full group photo. I find this to be much less time-intensive on a busy wedding day.

Michelle with mom (Susan)

Michelle with dad (Andrew)

Michelle with both parents

M/T with Michelle’s parents

M/T with Michelle’s mom, dad, brother (Susan, Andrew, Jason)

ADD grandmother (Ann)

Susan and Ann

Susan, Ann, Michelle

Michelle and Ann

Michelle with mom, dad, brother (Susan, Andrew, Jason)

Michelle with brother (Jason)

M/T with Michelle’s brother (Jason)

Susan and Andrew

M/T with both set of parents and siblings

Tony with mom (Laurie)

Tony with dad (John)

Tony with both parents

M/T with Tony’s parents

M/T with Tony’s mom, dad, sisters (Laurie, John, Charlotte, Nicole)

Tony with mom, dad, sisters (Laurie, John, Charlotte, Nicole)

Tony with sisters (Charlotte, Nicole)

M/T with Tony’s sisters (Charlotte, Nicole)

Tony with Charlotte

Tony with Nicole

Laurie and John

In the event that there were any divorces, step-parents, or other family dynamics, I’d also take this into consideration when I’m choosing the order of the photos. Make your photographer aware of any family dynamics that could come up during the family photo time.

And that’s all it takes to create the immediate family shot list for your wedding! When everyone arrives on time and ready for photos, this list allows me to capture each photo quickly and efficiently — your parents will love the organization and everyone will be surprised at how easy it was!

For more wedding timeline planning, check out this recent blog post!

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