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Formal pictures: Suggested groups & order for weddings

There is no denying the importance of having photos taken of you and your groom with your family on your wedding day. Yeah, yeah, yeah…. the formal pictures tend to bore everyone to death, and if the they take too long, people get cranky–you included! But that doesn’t mean they should be omitted.

The key is to have them scheduled as close to the ceremony start time as possible, or have them take place immediately following the ceremony. Be sure to tell all those who need to be present to show up 15-20 minutes before they’ll be needed as most people tend to run behind and waiting on others or rushing through them is no fun for anyone.

Two weeks or so before your wedding, I will need to have a list of the formal pictures. As outlined in my contract, there are limits to the number of groups we can do on your wedding day. Average groups (4-8 people) take 3-4 minutes per photo. Larger groups take about 5 minutes each. As you can see, this can quickly eat up time. This is why I require that you keep your list to the family images you just HAVE TO HAVE….

Two things to keep in mind when building your list:

1. Photos of large family groups should include both the bride and the groom. This is because people will rarely frame or print or display a picture that is missing such an important family member. An example would be a photo of the you–the bride, your parents, your siblings & their spouses and kids but NO GROOM. This is a waste because it’s your wedding day. Your groom is now a part of the family. It would be incredibly awkward for him to see a photo of everyone but him on display. And if it’s not going to ever be on display, then why take it?
2. Really ask yourself if you think anyone is actually going to display a photo  before you have it taken. For example…one of you and your groom with your parents AND his parents all in the same frame. Chances are, the six of you aren’t that collectively close to warrant having a photo like that.

So based on that, here is a suggested lineup for formal pics to help make them go as smoothly and quickly as possible. The groups in red could even be taken early on in the day, during preparations. If you have individuals not mentioned below who you absolutely HAVE to have a photo of, perhaps consider having that picture taken at the reception.

Of course, all families are different, so not all formations will be pertinent for you; step-relatives may also be included. These are just what I suggest for ease of flow for a typical family.

(B=Bride, G=Groom)


  • Bride & parents/step-parents (both sets if needed)
  • Bride & mom
  • Bride & dad
  • Bride & grandparents
  • Bride & siblings
  • Bride/Groom & B’s grandparents
  • Bride/Groom & B’s fam w/ spouses, kids & grandparents
  • Bride/Groom & B’s fam w/ spouses & kids
  • Bride/Groom & B’s immediate fam (sisters/bros & parents)
  • Bride/Groom & B’s parents


  • Groom & parents/step-parents (both sets if needed)
  • Groom & mom
  • Groom & dad
  • Groom & grandparents
  • Groom & siblings
  • Bride/Groom & G’s grandparents
  • Bride/Groom & G’s fam w/ spouses, kids & grandparents
  • Bride/Groom & G’s fam w/ spouses & kids
  • Bride/Groom & G’s immediate fam (sisters/bros & parents)
  • Bride/Groom & G’s parents
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