Wedding Timeline: Family PhotosPractical tips from a wedding photographer


While following a strict wedding timeline may sound unromantic, it is a key when it comes to throwing the wedding (and taking wedding photos) of your dreams. Even if you consider yourself a laid-back couple and would like to have a casual celebration, having a wedding timeline will give you a general idea of how things are going to unfold and help avoid major force majeures. It is especially true when you’re deciding on how much time you’re going to allocate for your family photos!


Some wedding celebrations can often feel like family reunions as you’re gathering all of your family members from near and far to celebrate your love. Often times, your wedding may be the first time in years that all of these family members have been in the same place and time, making it the perfect opportunity to capture this get together on camera. So when you’re putting together a must-have family photo-list, I highly recommend talking to your wedding photographer to decide how much time you’re going to need to take pictures of all of the important people in your life. Of course, nobody wants to miss out on a cocktail hour, so having a proper wedding timeline for your family group photos will help ensure everyone is having a fun time. Good organization and a solid timeline will turn your family portraits into a fun experience instead of turning it into a chore. From my experience, here are some useful tips when it comes to planning your family group photos:

1. Before or After Wedding Ceremony

First thing’s first, deciding when you would like to schedule your family photos will help determine the rest of the wedding timeline. You can schedule your family portraits either before or after your wedding ceremony. Having your family pictures taken after the ceremony is a good choice for those who would prefer not to see each other before the ceremony. In this case, I always suggest taking your family photos either right after the ceremony or invite your family members to arrive earlier before the cocktail hour. This way you can be through with your wedding photos just in time for the cocktails and enjoy mingling with guests. Another great reason to do it after the ceremony is that the most nerve-wracking part of the day is done, and everybody feels relaxed and merry.

On the other hand, scheduling your family photos before the ceremony is great for those who would prefer to have it out of the way. Taking your family photos before the ceremony is also good because the time before the ceremony is usually the calmest. You don’t have other guests around and nobody is competing for your attention. You can take your family photos slowly and make sure you capture everyone as there’s no urge to join the cocktail hour. When scheduling your family photos, keep these options in mind as it’s the first step to nailing down your timeline.

2. Create family group combinations list

Once you decide when you’re taking your family pictures, it’s time to put together a family group combinations list. The standard groupings are the following:

Bride and Groom + Both Parents

Bride and Groom + Bride’s Parents
Bride + Bride’s Parents

Bride and Groom + Groom’s Parents
Groom + Groom’s Parents

Bride and Groom + Bride’s Grandparents
Bride and Groom + Groom’s Grandparents

Bride and Groom + Bride’s Siblings
Bride and Groom + Groom’s Siblings
Bride and Groom + All Siblings 


This is just a generic family photo list. Feel free to add your own unique group combinations! The idea is to structure your list in such a way, it’s easy to call people in and let those who are done with photos go enjoy the wedding day favours. Having a solid structure makes it super easy to keep track of your family portraits to make sure you’re not missing anyone. It’s also helpful to make sure your family photos go smoothly, as you won’t spend time trying to remember who else should be in photos.

3. Assign a “grandma wrangler”.

I always ask my couples to assign someone from their bridal party or family to act as a “grandma wrangler” to get people in photos. Choose someone who knows both of your family sides and has good organizational skills. It’s important to have one designated person to ensure your family photos go easily and fast. You can also ask your event planner to keep track of the list and cross out the combinations we have already taken pictures of.

I hope you find these tips useful! Follow these simple steps, and you’re guaranteed to have an easy-flowing, stress-free family photos, so you all can enjoy the very reason you got together – celebrating your love and your new union!