Today I am going to kick off a new series of blog posts where the Rivets and Roses staff talks about some great tips and tricks to make your wedding even more beautiful than you've already planned it to be. Between the five of us here on the Rivets staff we have quite a bit of wedding experience and we love seeing couples who find inventive ways to heighten the quality of their photos. We thought we would share some things we've seen at weddings with some things we've learned over the years to help you maximize your photography budget and get images that you'll love for the rest of your life. These are all just suggestions, so feel free to take these ideas and interpret them in your own way for your own big day! I'm going to start things off by talking about group photos, specifically the family portraits. Generally this is everyone's least favorite and most stressful part of the day, but it doesn't have to be! Family portraits can go smoothly and look beautiful with just a little bit of planning and since these are the images that are going to hang on your parents' walls from now to eternity, use my top 5 tips to get great family shots.
1. Have a detailed, and I mean DETAILED list of each and every shot you want to get during the family portraits. My clients generally keep this time of the day reserved for parents, grandparents and siblings, but be specific and list out every combination of people with their names, who they're related to, and how. Work with your photographer to figure out how much time (realistically) this will take. I usually work with my clients to budget 45-50 minutes for family photos, even though it usually doesn't take quite that long.
2. Consider doing all of the family shots with the couple as a unit. For example: instead of doing a shot with the bride, the bride's parents and the bride's siblings and ALSO doing a shot with the bride and groom (or the bride and the other bride!), the bride's parents and the bride's siblings, just do the shot with the couple together. For one or two combinations of people, this isn't going to cut much out timing wise, but once you get 30 combinations of family members it can actually cut out big chunks of time. Consider whether your parents and family members will want a group shot on your wedding day without you in it.
3. Think ahead when planning a location. I am a big fan of shooting family portraits outside. I find that religious buildings often have terrible lighting and too much stuff in the background. I try to find a large expanse of brick wall or a shady area with trees in the background for my clients. Again, these photos are going to be hanging on people's walls. If you're able to find an outdoors spot where people can meet, your images might be cleaner and the lighting will be better. If you're going to be driving from one location to the next, get a map for the people in the portrait group, or caravan so that everyone knows exactly where to go.
4. Smile! Yes, we know it is a long day and we know that having your parents, grandparents and siblings (not to mention your bridal party and your vendors!) talking to you all day can be tiring, but these are the people who love and support you the most and they aren't going to be in every single photo. Make sure that they get a chance to shine...after all, you might not be where you are without them! These are also the photos that will last forever in your family history. When grandparents and parents start to pass away, you'll still have a beautiful memory of everyone together on your wedding day. It's worth spending the extra 15 minutes to get everyone together and smiling.
5. Dress to impress. This is something that may not be possible for all couples to accomplish, but the more coordinated the clothing choices, the more cohesive the family shots. I recently shot a wedding where the colors were black and white with pops of red. The bride asked her immediate family to dress how they liked as long as they were either wearing black or white, or a combination of the two. The result was a shockingly beautiful and put-together portrait that I'm sure they will be proud to have in their home. Everyone was wearing something that flattered their body type and they felt comfortable in their choices. Depending on the personality types in your family, you may be able to accomplish this same look. Pick a color scheme for the people who will be in these large shots and ask them to dress accordingly. It's an easy way to make photos with lots of people look as great as they can.