A list is good for piece of mind, and can help you determine who you want included in the photos. It is much better to figure this out beforehand than at the wedding itself. So if a list helps to accomplish this, we are all for it :) For us, rather than a shot-by-shot guide, it is most important that every person you would like included in the formals to be on time, present and ready to be photographed.
One tip to be successful is to designate a family member or two on each side of the family, and put then in charge of your formal photo participants. Give them your list and ask them to keep everyone in a designated area, so no one leaves to go to cocktail hour. You can also have your officiant make a similar announcement at the conclusion of the ceremony. The reason for keeping everyone in one spot is because if one person leaves for any reason, we will be spending valuable shooting time trying to track them down, rather than using the time most effectively.
Once we have everyone, our typical approach is to start with one side of the family. We organize this large group together and take a few pictures. Then, if there are cousins present, we will ask them to exit the image. This leaves the immediate family alongside any aunts, uncles and grandparents. We take another few pictures, and then ask extended family to exit the setup. By narrowing down the participants like this, it enables guests to enjoy the cocktail hour as soon as they are finished.
After we photograph the immediate family, we take individual photos of each of the immediate family members with the couple, adding in any grandparents and children. We repeat this process with the other side of the family, and photograph until the entire group is well covered.
If there are specific formals that you would like captured outside of this process, (ex: an aunt and cousin photographed together), you will want to give us a heads up, so we can be prepared. Also, it’s helpful if we understand the family dynamic before the wedding, like who the couples are, or any other scenarios unique to your family. Please also let us know if there is a certain group of friends to make sure to photograph together.
Sometimes, couples will say, “We will just get ‘so and so’ together later at the reception,” but we always suggest not to rely on later. Meaning that there is no later – there will be lots of other exciting events throughout the day, and anything postponed will probably take a back seat. If there is a family shot that is very important to you, it should take place within the designated time, with everyone ready and on standby.
By helping us finish the family pictures quickly and efficiently, we will be set up to be successful for all the other amazing images that need to be accomplished throughout the day :)