Bridal Tip | Wedding Day Family Portrait Shot List

April 25, 2017

I’ve had a lot of potential couples ask me over the last few months if I go into the wedding day with a shot list, and the answer is ABSOLUTELY!  That being said, we need to clarify.  When I talk about a shot list, I’m talking about a list of groupings of people we want to make sure to capture during the wedding day.  What I’m not talking about, is a list of every little shot to get through out the day.  Any photographer worth their salt will be absolutely able to photograph every detail and moment of your day, and lists like that can be artistically stifling.  My suggestion, is to find a photographer you trust so you can relax and let them rock it 🙂

Family shot lists are important for a few reasons.  Firstly, it’s much easier to make thoughtful decisions about which photos you’d like when you aren’t in the middle wedding day emotions, and you’ll go into the day knowing that the important shots are on the list.  Secondly, because this list exists you are giving your photographer what they need to take charge of this part of the day.  I’ve found that when I take charge of the family photo time we get done more quickly (so you can enjoy the day even more) and I don’t have as many family members wanting additional photos; if they know I’ve got it under control then they aren’t worried you’re missing out on something.  And lastly, it’ll insure that you and your photographer are on the same page about which groupings are important to you so you can plan your timeline accordingly.

(Also, how funny is this shot below?  I was fixing my bride Rachel’s dress for the shot with her mom, and her dad and sisters decided it was the perfect time for singing!  Moments like this are why it’s great to have a second shooter, even during family photo time!)

Here is the shot list that I start with when I’m working with my couples.  We use this as a guide, add any needed photos, remove unnecessary shots, and then add in names so I can easily work through the list efficiently.  Also, if the order seems strange to you it’s because I’ve generally found that starting with large groups and breaking down to smaller groups works best, and I always try to get grandparents done quickly!

Bride’s Side

  • Bride & Groom w/Bride’s Immediate Family (Parents, Siblings, & Grandparents)
  • Bride & Groom w/Bride’s Grandparents
  • Bride & Groom w/Bride’s Parents & Siblings
  • Bride & Groom w/Bride’s Siblings
  • Bride & Groom w/Bride’s Parents
  • Bride w/Bride’s Siblings
  • Bride w/Bride’s Mom
  • Bride w/Bride’s Dad

Extended Family

  • Bride & Groom w/all Parents & Siblings
  • Bride & groom w/all Parents

Groom’s Side

  • Bride & Groom w/Groom’s Immediate Family (Parents, Siblings, & Grandparents)
  • Bride & Groom w/Groom’s Grandparents
  • Bride & Groom w/Groom’s Parents & Siblings
  • Bride & Groom w/Groom’s Siblings
  • Bride & Groom w/Groom’s Parents
  • Groom w/Groom’s Siblings
  • Groom w/Groom’s Mom
  • Groom w/Groom’s Dad

I always tell couples to prepare for each grouping to take 2 minutes (and 4-5 for large groups).  This helps us all keep track of how much time it’ll take us to photograph it all on the wedding day!  If you find that you want to include more extended family or have a lot of small groups, my suggestion is to instead go for large groups!  This will take less time, and both you and they will be more likely to print these photos!  For example, the shot below ended up as a full page spread in this couple’s album!

Thanks so much for checking out this list; I hope it is helpful for your big day!  As always, if you have any questions for me, ask below!


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