Pretty much everyone knows that family photo time at weddings can be a bit like pulling teeth. “Who’s up next? Where’s Uncle Bob gone? Why have you taken your shoes off?” BUT they’re actually super important. Even if they don’t seem important to you at the time they will become more important and treasured as time passes. Plus they’re some of the most printed photos by your family! After many years of photographing weddings I’ve seen things go both super smoothly and also completely haywire. So here’s my 5 tips to make the process as quick and painless as possible for everyone involved.

1. Make sure there’s somewhere shady for family photos.

When you’re checking out spots for your wedding ceremony, make sure there’s somewhere nice and shady for us to take your family photos. It’s preferable to check for this shady place at the time your ceremony will be ending and on a date close to your wedding date (so maybe the year beforehand). If there’s only full sun, people end up really squinty and there’s unflattering shadows. If there’s really dappled light it’s difficult to get everyone nice and evenly lit which can also ruin the look of the photo.

2. Make sure family know they’re required for photos prior to the day.

This probably sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen family members disappear even after I’ve announced that we need everyone who is related to the couple to stick around for photos.

Your parents know they’re required and your siblings are usually onto it too but to make things run smoothly it’s great to let other people know you’d love them in a photo prior to the wedding day. If you’re having an extended family shot, tell the cousins, aunties and uncles to stay close by after the ceremony. It can also be good to give a heads up to any little nieces and nephews, grandparents and your siblings partners if you’d like them in the photos too. That way they all know what to expect and hopefully won’t go walk about.

3. Do family photos just after the ceremony while everyone is in the one place (especially if kids are involved).

Once your ceremony has ended everyone will come and greet you, give you lots of hugs and tell you how amazing you look. I like to let everyone say hi first so everyone feels they’ve seen you before doing the photos otherwise all the hugs and kisses come when they’re called for the photo they’re in and can slow down a process that everyone just wants to be done with. It’s best to do the family photos straight after this while everyone is in the one place and I can call out to let everyone know it’s family photo time. I’ve also found that doing it straight away is best when there’s any kids involved in the photos before they get tired and end up looking very grumpy.

4. Have a photo captain (or two) in charge of finding people from each side of the family.

Something that can be really helpful is to have someone from each side of the family who knows who everyone is and can round people up for photos. I’ve found that someone like your cousin will be better than your sister because the cousin is usually only required for one photo. Having someone from both your side of the family and your new husband / wife’s side helps things to run smoothly too.

5. Have a list with as minimal moving in and out as possible.

About a month before your wedding I send through a list of questions to help me on the day and included in that is a list of my standard family photos from which you can add to or remove any photos you like.

I structure the list in a way that means there’s as little moving in and out for people as possible. Basically the wedding couple stand in the middle and we move people in around you. We usually start with the biggest family group and remove people gradually

As an example, let’s say we start with the bride’s extended family, we’ll then remove the aunties, uncles and cousins so we’ve got just the immediate family, then just the parents. Then we build things up on the other side so we add in the groom’s parents, then his siblings followed by the extended family. This all changes slightly based on whether you have grandparents or nieces and nephews or kids of your own but I’m sure you get the idea!

Hopefully these 5 tips help you out with having not only beautiful family photos but also having them done and dusted quickly and effortlessly!