Formal photos during a wedding are some of my favorite images to capture. These are the photos that show your most important guests with you on your wedding day. From your parents and close family to your wedding party and friends, these photos capture those people the best. Here are a few tips when thinking about your list of people to include.

Remember, each combination of people is a separate photo to be captured. Here is an example of a small family formals list, as you can see I list out each combination separately because each one will take time to photograph. Small combinations like a photograph of the groom and his mother for example will take under a minute to photograph, while larger groups will take more time.

Example list: 17 combinations with 11 people

  • Bride + Groom + Everyone
  • Bride + Groom + Mom + Dad + Brother + Sister + Brother in law + Kids
  • Bride + Groom + Sister + Brother in law + Kids
  • Groom + Brother + Sister
  • Groom + Mom
  • Groom + Dad
  • Groom + Mom + Dad
  • Bride + Groom + Groom’s Parents
  • Bride + Groom + Groom’s Parents + Bride’s Parents
  • Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents
  • Bride + Dad + Mom
  • Bride + Dad
  • Bride + Mom
  • Bride + Sister
  • Bride + Brother
  • Bride + Sister + Brother
  • Bride + Groom + Officiant 

When creating the order of the list I prefer to do larger groups first, then groups with kids, and anyone that has trouble standing for long periods of time. Grandparents for example would be some of the first people to photograph because they might need more assistance to stand. Another reason to have grandparents or elderly guests first is because once they have been photographed they can leave for cocktail hour or go sit in a shaded area if its hot outside.

When figuring out how much time family formals will take, look at how many combinations there are, in this case there are 17. If you allow 1 minute per photograph you will get a good estimate of how much time is needed. However, if your list is mostly large groups you might want to adjust to 1.5 to 2 minutes per large group. Organizing larger groups of people and adding in their willingness to look at the camera and smile is what takes more time for these groups. Once small children are added in this creates more time to grab attention and get smiles from them as well so this increases time for those photographs as well.

For the list above, most of the 11 people are adults with 17 photo combinations. I would estimate for the timeline around 20 minutes for these. If they get done faster then there would be more time for bride and groom photos or the bride and groom could have time for themselves or getting to their cocktail hour.