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How to Prepare Your Family for Wedding Photos

As your wedding draws closer, everything starts to feel very real, very quickly. RSVP’s begin to arrive, your vendor team begins to check in — the wedding is well on its way! Sometimes, in all of the craziness of the final prep, it can be easy to overlook prepping some of the most important people attending your wedding . . . your family! Some members of your family may have been involved in planning over the last several months (or even years!), and have a very clear idea of what the day will be like. Chances are though, that not every member of your family knows quite what to expect.

After all of the time, energy, and money you’ve invested into this day, these are a few things I recommend that my couples establish with family members that will be present throughout the day and/or included in family portraits. When the full family is on the same page, it makes for an incredibly easy, stress-free wedding day.

This blog post is Part 1 of a two-part series about your family photos. In Part 2, we’ll talk about the typical family photo groupings.


How to Prepare Your Family for Wedding Photos


4 Ways to Prepare Your Family for Wedding Photos


1. Explaining Modern Wedding Photography

There was once a time when the photographer would show up for the important details, a few key portraits, and call it a day! Times have certainly changed, but it’s still not entirely uncommon for a family member to be surprised with how involved the photo team can be throughout the wedding day. Let your family know that the team will be there throughout the day — there to capture the classic portraits they know well, as well as the candid shots you’d also like. Help them to understand that they don’t need to be “camera aware” throughout the day, that they can relax and take in the day without worrying about the camera. This will help them to look their best, as their natural selves.

2. Handling Photo Requests

The Family Photo portion of the day is often very important to parents and other family members. With family coming from out of town that is not often together in one place, parents especially tend to have a few additional groups of people in mind that they’d like photos with. These photos sometimes don’t even include the couple, but parents greatly appreciate a tangible memory of this time together. The couple will always have the ultimate say, but if there is extra time and the photo team knows mom wants a photo with Great Aunt Phyllis and her cousins — this is an easy way for them to help make her happy too! By asking and involving your family in this ahead of time, you’re helping to avoid any potential conflict over photos and putting your photo team in the best possible position to be aware of and accomplish this. Remind your family that there isn’t infinite time for photos and that several requests may require additional photo coverage and/or less time at cocktail hour to get all of them done.

3. Cocktail Hour Photos

Speaking of cocktail hour . . . in the event that most of your family formal photos will happen during this time, it is always best to establish this with everyone involved ahead of time. If you aren’t planning to do a first look ahead of your ceremony, this will almost certainly be the case. After the ceremony, emotions tend to run high and everyone is excited to celebrate! It’s important that everyone involved in family portraits knows not to go to cocktail hour just yet though. Let your family know that these photos are important to you (and each other) and that if everyone stays back after the ceremony, then they will all be able to get to cocktail hour that much sooner. When one person decides to “quickly” get one drink and come back, it leaves the rest of the family waiting . . . and they inevitably become antsy about when photos will be over. Make everyone aware of the plan, putting everyone in the best position to fully enjoy the celebrations!

4. Remember, This is Your Day

At the end of the day, this is your day! The best thing you can do for it to be as stress-free and fun as you’ve been hoping for, is to communicate expectations. No family member or friend wants to be a bother (especially on your wedding day!), and by addressing family expectations ahead of time, nobody has to be!


Now that you know more about how to prepare your family for photos, let’s move onto Part 2 of this blog series — How to Create Your Family Photo Shot List!

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