Making Your Wedding Family Formals List » Corrie Childers Weddings

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January 24, 2021


Making Your Wedding Family Formals List: If you’re like most couples, you might not have thought too much yet about making your family formals list. And that’s okay! This is a topic that I’ll bring up with you automatically, closer to your wedding date (…if I’m your wedding photographer) so we don’t forget to have a list made. But make no mistake – while I may be nonchalant about when we make this list, I am decidedly a stickler for being sure we definitely do make it at some point before your wedding day.

Because honestly, family photos can be one of the most important but most chaotic parts of the day. So let’s try our best to prepare you, okay?

Making Your Wedding Family Formals List

First, decide whether or not you want to do a First Look before the ceremony. If you are, that opens up some options for timing! A lot of couples do things in this order before the ceremony: first look, wedding party photos, then family photos. Each of these things will take approx. 30 minutes (if we do a few bride & groom portraits along with the first look).
If you’re not doing a first look, we’ll do your family photos immediately after your ceremony. Then your wedding party photos, then your bride & groom portraits.

(for more pros, cons & my thoughts on doing a first look, check out this blog post)

Second, write down your groupings. Now narrow it down to 10. If you can’t quite get to 10 while you’re making your wedding family formals list, just get as close as possible! Each grouping will average 2-3 minutes, so 10-15 groupings is 30-45 minutes (I know that seems like a lot, but when Uncle Frank is in the bathroom and your sister forgot and went on to the reception so someone has to go track her down, you’ll see). It’s smart to budget a little extra time!

That being said,  I am not a stickler for sticking to the list when we have extra time. For example, if I take a photo of you and your parents and you ask to take one with each of your parents individually, of course we’ll do that if there’s time & they’re both already standing right there. This step is just about prioritizing your groupings so that we are sure to get the most important groupings if we’re in a time crunch!

Third, take that list and order it so that we start with groupings that include small children and/or any elderly guests or guests with health or mobility issues (to minimize the number of times they have to hop in and out of photos).

1. Katie, Tommy, Katie’s parents, grandparents, sister/brother-in-law and their 2 kids
2. Katie, Tommy, Katie’s parents & grandparents
3. Katie, Tommy, Katie’s grandparents
4. Katie, Katie’s grandparents
5. Katie, Tommy, Katie’s parents

Additional Tips

Boom, your list is done! I have more to say on this topic though, so this post isn’t quite over. Here are a few more tips for, you know, handling family photos well.

  1. Let your photographer know if there are special family situations that you want them to be sensitive to, like divorce, death, new relationships, etc. If I’m your photographer, you can rest easy knowing that all this is covered on my world-famous wedding questionnaire. I’ll send it to you when you book, and we’ll finalize it a few weeks before your wedding when we’re working on your timeline. If I’m not your photographer, don’t forget about covering this important step with the person you’ve hired!
  2. Designate a guest or family member to be my list helper! Choose someone who knows all (or at least most) names/faces on the list and is loud. I’ve found that people with teaching jobs in their daily lives are great in this role! You can send them the list before the wedding, or I can just send it to them when it’s time for these photos.
  3. If we’re doing the family photos after the ceremony, you can ask your officiant to announce for your immediate family on both sides to stay. Or better yet, a few days before the wedding, you can start a group text with everyone who needs to stay and have a designated person send a reminder text right after the ceremony ends. “Hey everyone, meet on the east side of the chapel!” is much more quick and direct than 2 dozen family members wandering around asking each other where they’re supposed to go. And particularly if you have certain extended family members who need to stay but others who don’t, this technique can help ensure there’s not anyone who stays and then awkwardly isn’t in any of the formal groupings!



Corrie Childers is a sought-after Northwest Arkansas wedding photographer, Arkansas engagement photographer, Arkansas bridal photographer and Arkansas proposal photographer. Corrie has a natural passion for classic, timeless wedding photography in an elegant and relaxed style. Corrie is currently booking Arkansas weddings in Bella Vista, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, Siloam Springs, Eureka Springs and all of Northwest Arkansas, as well as Little Rock, El Dorado, Dallas, St. Louis, Kansas City and beyond!

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Making Your Wedding Family Formals List

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