Why Family Shot Lists Are So Useful on Wedding Days

While we don’t need an overall shot list of every single photo you’d like on your wedding day, it is very helpful for us to have a bulleted list of each grouping of family members you’d like us to capture during Family Portraits.

The Benefits of a Family Shot List:

If you both have large families, or if it takes a while to gather & arrange your family members, it could take up to 30 minutes to take all of your family portraits. Having a family shot list of all the family combinations you’d like photos of (including everyone’s names) helps us to expedite this process.

The Family Shot List DO’s & DON’Ts:

  • DO list everyone’s name and their relation to you. This will help us find them easier & let us know how to address them!
    ex: Bride with Jenny (mom) and Ben (dad)

  • If you have more than one grandma or grandpa, please let us know their first name as well (or whatever they go by) so we can differentiate between them & not cause any confusion.
    ex: Bride and Groom with all grandparents: Grandma Pat & Grandpa Joe, Grammy Rose, & Nonna

  • DO let us know about any sensitive family issues (such as remarriages, unamicable divorces, deaths, etc) so we can be respectful about how we arrange people and don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
    ex: Jane & Bill are divorced. Please don’t ask for photos of them together, except for the big family shot. They can be in that photo together but not right next to each other.

  • DO keep your list concise if you’re not planning on having a First Look, since our portrait time slot will most likely be super limited.

  • DO make sure you tell everyone in the photos where and when to meet us for the photos so we don’t have to waste any precious time looking for people.

  • DON’T list every family combination possible, just the “main” groupings. If your list contains more than 15 combinations, some of the groupings are most likely repetitive and not necessary. For instance, instead of a solo photo with each of your aunts & uncles, an Extended Family Photo of all of your aunts, uncles, and cousins in one photo may be more meaningful and efficient. If you’re feeling tempted to make a huge, exhaustive list, ask yourself “where will these photos be going?” Will they be going into your album? Will they be going on someone’s fridge? If these photos are only destined to sit online in a “cyber graveyard”, I assure you that your time could have been better spent elsewhere on your wedding day.

A Note About Significant Others: 

If any of your family members have a boyfriend or girlfriend and you’re not sure yet if they’re a “keeper”, feel free to take one version of the photo with the significant other and one without.

Fun Fact:  In the industry, we jokingly call these people “croppers” – we try to arrange them on the outer edges of family groupings so it’s easier to crop them out in case of an unfortunate breakup! 😉 


Example Family Shot List:

family shot list example wedding photography family portraits

Feel free to start drafting up your family shot list now! There will be a section for you to submit your Family Shot List on your Wedding Questionnaire that will be sent to you 1-2 months before your wedding day. If you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to reach out and I’d be happy to help!


Read more helpful wedding planning blog posts here.

March 21, 2020

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