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One factor that can make or break your wedding day timeline and tips to help

Updated: May 3, 2019

Sticking to a timeline on a wedding day is super important. Timelines help ensure nothing is forgotten and everyone is accommodated. A lot takes place on your wedding day, so your photographer and wedding planner will work together to plan out the events in the day on a schedule that works for everyone. There is one factor on your wedding day that could make or break the timeline though.

Family Formals

Following your ceremony, you will most likely dive right into family formals. This time of the day can set the stage for making or breaking the timeline for the rest of your evening. All of your family in one place can get a little chaotic (depending on your family dynamics), so these tips below will help you avoid getting off schedule.

1. Make a list.

This is my biggest piece of advice when it comes to family formals. Using your guest list, begin compiling a list of family photo combinations (for both the bride and groom) you would love to have.

For example:

  • Mom and Bride

  • Dad and Bride

  • Mom, Dad and Bride

  • Mom, Dad, Bride, and Groom

  • Mom, Dad, Bride, Groom, and Siblings

  • Bride and Siblings

  • Bride and Grandparents

  • Bride, Groom, and Grandparents

  • Etc. You get the point.

While making the list, please write out first names as well. That way the person communicating can just call out first names to make things easier, ex: Bride’s Grandmother Suann, Bride’s Sister Taylor. Please give this list to your photographer at least a week before your wedding so that they can make copies, ask questions, and reorder if necessary.

2. Stick to the list.

There will be family-friends and other guests who would really love a photo with you. Family formal time is not the time for those photos though. During the reception, you photographer will likely walk around gathering those photos. College roommates, Extended family, etc. The reason we cannot fit all of those photos during your family formal time is because we don't want to keep your guests waiting before the reception begins. Once family formals start, we are working quickly to make everyone happy and felt taken care of—not just you and your spouse, but your families and your guests (who are likely very hungry).

3. Communicate.

Communicate with your photographer ahead of time the location you would like your family formals to take place. Do you want to use the same location as the ceremony (in the sanctuary, or by the arbor)? Do you have a specific location in mind outside of the ceremony spot? Please communicate that with your photographer so they can ensure the lighting and location is a good fit for portraits. Once that has been settled, please also communicate with your officiant that all family needs to meet at the spot immediately after the ceremony for their photos.

4. Delegate.

If you have booked a package with a solo photographer, you will need to delegate a point person to assist during family formals. A close friend, your MOH, a wedding coordinator, etc. who can help call out family names and gather any missing people for the photos.

5. Identify sticky situations.

If there is any family tension or broken relationships, please notify your photographer beforehand. The last thing we want to do it create tension or spark feuds on your wedding day by being misinformed that individuals do not get along. For example, it would be helpful to know of any divorces or step siblings and which combinations of photos you would like. If divorced parents do not get along we will be aware and know to be sensitive to the situation during photos.


Are you getting married? I would love to hear more about your wedding plans and see if I would be a good fit to serve you on your wedding day for Photography and/or Videography.

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