• Ask Anything

It’s universal. Every wedding photographer knows that family formals are never the FAVORITE part of the day but they are so important! We actually think that family formal time is a VITAL part of the timeline for wedding photographers because it’s our best chance of making a great impression with the families and serving them well. One way that we can serve them well is to make family formals FAST! This part of the day doesn’t have to take 30-45 minutes. At least once at every wedding, we’re complimented on how quickly we roll through these portraits!

So what’s the hack to making this happen faster? Well, it’s actually a brand new idea. I was teaching during our last workshop and realized that we have been missing out on something that would save SO much time and yet require very little work!! If you want to speed up family formals, you need to gather the family members FASTER! So! Here’s the idea…..


I know, so simple. But think about it! If you have three copies of all of the family members that you’ll need to gather, you’ll be able to hand one copy to one member of the bride’s side and one copy to one member of the groom’s side. This will save so much time because you won’t have any confusion over who is on the list and who needs to be gathered. If there are additional family members who may need to be in a portrait later, you can encourage them to gather together during the reception!! Woohoo! Go get em’ friends! Happy shooting this weekend.

Ps. If you’re wondering how we get family formal lists before the wedding, it’s a part of our Bride and Groom Questionnaire. If you want to know what else is in the B&G Questionnaire, you can download it for FREE…just click HERE

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xoxo, Katelyn
11 Comments Ask Anything, Education
  1. Kristen Browning reply

    Oh my gosh! Lightbulb moment!!! Thanks Katelyn!!

  2. JoAnne reply

    I have used this tip regularly when photographing wedding. It is amazing!!!! During my consultations 2 weeks leading up to the wedding I request to the couple to provide two photo facilitators who now have a “job” to help and email them the family formal shot list prior to the day. The photo facilitators on the day are usually excited to help and usually have the formal shot list printed before I even give them a copy. :)

  3. Nicole Salter reply

    Brilliant! I have already been doing the “layers” movement and the family is amazed how I get it done in like 10 minutes. This will make it even FASTER! Thanks!

  4. Elizabeth reply

    Your posts are so helpful, Katelyn! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Danielle Blocker reply

    This is so crazy, because last weekend I was literally thinking about trying something similar at my next wedding! Families want to get to the party and visit everyone just as much as the couple, but they also treasure the formal photos. So I thought what better way than to have them on your side and working together to help make everything go smoothly. Thanks for sharing, I’m excited to try it out!

  6. Michelle Stoker reply

    Wow….DUH!!!! Thank you ;)

  7. Jessica reply

    Hi Katelyn!

    Awesome idea of printing out a few copies so family members can gather everyone needed for the photos. What questionnaire system do you currently use and send to your brides? I’m looking for a good digital questionnaire so it’s easy for them to fill out all necessary info like things about themselves (how they met, hobbies, favorite things about each other) as well as a shot list and timeline. Any suggestions? Thanks!!!

    • Katelyn James reply

      Hi Jessica! Built into the online system we use we have an automated questionnaire that gets emailed to our clients 8 weeks before their wedding day! You can actually download a copy of the questions we include in it as one of our freebies! You can access it here:

  8. Shannon reply

    I tried this trick over a year ago for my very first wedding and it was INSANE how quickly I was able to blow through the family photos! I’ve been to so many weddings and watched as the photographers shuffled family members back and forth. This way, everyone knew where to be and in what order. I started with the whole group, then took people out started with the grandparents and kids so they could rest, until it was just me, my assistant and the couple. It was great!

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