The pastor has pronounced you husband and wife, you’ve had your first kiss, and walked down the aisle feeling like you’re floating from the excitement and joy running through your veins! I’ve followed you outside into the beautiful golden light before the sun sets to capture the memories of exactly what this moment feels like. And the best part is that you can’t.stop.smiling!
After 10 minutes of letting you and your new spouse soak in what just happened, we make our way back to the church to greet friends and family with hugs and their congratulations. Everyone is so excited and ready to get to the reception to celebrate!
But first, we need to get the “family formals”. These are the images that mom and grandma will display on their mantles because it’s one of the few times their entire family is together… it’s their story as much as it is yours and these images are a treasure and legacy to what they’ve poured their lives into.
This summer, one of my brides (the beautiful one in the photo above!) completely changed the way I approached this time of the wedding day. She handed me a printout that had everyone’s names in groups and in a grid. She had taken her list of family formal shots she wanted and put them onto a spreadsheet so that each person would know several things…
- that they were needed for photos after the ceremony
- which photos they would be in
- and in which order their photo would fall
It was brilliant! So how does this all work? It’s super easy. And since I like numbers and steps, here are the 5 steps to making this an easy part of your wedding day (and not the long, painful, drawn out part that everyone dreads!).
- Talk to both moms to make sure you list out all the photos you’ll need on your wedding day and create your list. (Usually this list consists of things like bride & groom with bride’s mom’s side (her parents and siblings and their families), bride & groom with bride’s mom’s parents, bride & groom with bride’s dad’s parents, etc.)
- From your list, create the order in which the photos will happen.
Note: The easiest way to create the order of the photos is to start big and get smaller. For example: begin with ALL of your mom’s side, then take away your aunts, uncles & cousins, then take away your grandparents, then your own siblings so it’s just you, your new husband and your parents. Then, take away your parents and add grandparents back in, then take away your grandparents and add siblings back in. And then start all over with the groom’s family!).
- Take your list and create your grid as in the photo above (this can easily be done in Word on your PC or Pages on your Mac).
- Once everything is finalized, email the grid to everyone that will be in the photos so they know the plan of action.
- Also email the grid to your day-of coordinator (or a trusted friend or two who will know everyone (or mostly everyone) in the photos so they can help during this process on your wedding day).
- Bonus step! If you want to double check and make sure everyone is ready to go, have the grid cut into squares for your day-of coordinator to hand out after the ceremony. It may feel like they’re “taking a number” at a deli, but it will help ensure everyone knows when they’ll be up!
This may feel like a lot to do, but the reality is that you’re already making this list to begin with. So the extra steps of creating the grid and emailing it out are the few extra steps that will help everyone stay happy and excited about being in photos… plus, they’ll be even more excited to get to the party faster! It may also mean you yourselves get to enjoy some of cocktail hour too!
PS – as a side note, having kids in family formals is one of my favorite things because you never know how they’re going to react! My best piece of advice is to let them be them! The chances of them looking at the camera and smiling is fairly slim, so if everyone else is smiling and ready, I (and others behind me) will do our best to get them to look too! However, if they don’t, you automatically have photos ready to embarrass them as they grow up ;-) aka, perfect material for their own rehearsal dinners!