Wedding Family Portraits: 5 Ways to Make Them Amazing (And Painless)

Wedding family portraits…ugh.  I bet you're dreading them already, aren't you?  Not because you don't love your crazy (in a good way) family, but because this part of a wedding day can be STRESSFUL!  Trying to corral a dozen or so people and snap a million photos in 15 minutes flat when everyone is hugging you and your nephew is stepping on your train and your niece is screaming her head off and all you want to do is kiss your new spouse and celebrate with a glass of champagne…whew, even the calmest of brides is bound to start sweating a little bit.  But with a little planning before the wedding, the family portrait session doesn't have to be painful.  In fact, it can be totally amazing!  My friend (and one of my favorite wedding photographers) Christina Montemurro is sharing her five ways to do just that!

1.) Prior to the wedding, create a list of the group shots you want.
Those few moments right after your ceremony are so euphoric and joyful.  You don’t want to spend them deciding whether want your sister’s kind-of serious boyfriend in your family photo.  Should you do a photo with your grandparents and parents together, or separately?  These decisions should be made ahead of time.

Wedding Family Portraits: 5 Ways to Make Them Amazing (And Painless) from Christina Montemurro Photography and Burgh Brides

2.) Don't forget to tell everyone on the list that they’re on the list!
Otherwise, they are likely to leave.  Even if your ceremony and reception are in the same place, guests start to wander off toward food and drink.

Wedding Family Portraits: 5 Ways to Make Them Amazing (And Painless) from Christina Montemurro Photography and Burgh Brides

3.) Smaller groups > larger groups.
Larger groups take longer to organize.  It can be a little bit of a game of Tetris to make sure we can see everyone’s faces in a large group.  Four groups of 12 will likely take longer to arrange than 12 groups of four.

Wedding Family Portraits: 5 Ways to Make Them Amazing (And Painless) from Christina Montemurro Photography and Burgh Brides

4.) More people = smaller faces
The more people you squeeze into a photo, the smaller their faces are. It can be fun to have a “big family photo,” but keep in mind as you add people, their faces will take up less and less of the frame.  Unless you’re planning on an enlarged print, consider breaking those big family photos into smaller groups (also, see above!).

Wedding Family Portraits: 5 Ways to Make Them Amazing (And Painless) from Christina Montemurro Photography and Burgh Brides

5.) Know how much time you're working with.
Some churches, especially the busy churches in Oakland like St. Paul’s Cathedral and Heinz Memorial Chapel, have very tight time limitations.  Even without a time limit, think about how you want to spend the time on your wedding day.  If you also have a large bridal party, or if you really want to go to more than one destination for photos, try to limit the number of family groupings.

Wedding Family Portraits: 5 Ways to Make Them Amazing (And Painless) from Christina Montemurro Photography and Burgh Brides

BB here…

Your photographer can help with all of this!  He or she can look at your list and let you know if you have enough time for all that you have planned.  Plus, they'll help herd everyone into the shot, letting you just stand up straight and smile.  So fear family portrait time no longer, Burgh Brides!  While you won't often see this type of photo on a wedding blog, it's actually the very type that you're bound to cherish for years and even generations to come.  Some of my favorite images from our wedding are those that include my grandfather who is no longer with us.

Thanks so much for all of the great advice, Christina!  Be sure to check out more of her work in the Burgh Brides Vendor Guide!

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