When I was married (a long time ago) I engaged a professional photographer. He was well known and respected in the industry with a lovely Central Park East Malvern studio and cost far more than we could afford at the time. The photography industry was very different than today with an entire wedding being recorded on just a handful of rolls of film. Every image of the 50 or so that we received from the day are very special however the family formals hold a special significance to me. It's fun showing the photos to my children who laugh at the fashions and how young everyone looked and more importantly family who are no longer with us are present in these images. These photos will be treasured by generations to come.
I look at the way in which the photos were taken and as a professional photographer now can appreciate the skill and experience of the photographer who captured these images. He chose a heavily treed location (we were married in Sherbrooke Forest), back lit with fill light, each family member looking at the camera, well posed and evenly spaced. The photo below is not my wedding but a family formal taken by me recently at the Old Cheese Factory in Berwick for Jaclyn and Dean.
What is a family formal?
Family formals are simply formal photographs taken of close family members with the bride and groom on their wedding day.
When are family formals taken?
If you are having a large group photo taken of all of your guests after your ceremony, the family formals are usually taken directly after this. When all of your guests are gathered together it is a great opportunity for the photographer to announce the location of family formals and to encourage family members not to 'disappear'. At times family formals are delayed until a time during the reception however it is more difficult to gather everyone together at this stage, jackets may well have been removed and drinking has begun.
Are all family formals the same?
In short - no they are not.
Our aim is to create a timeless portrait of your family members which means attention to detail - the lighting, location, choosing the correct lens, position of family in the photograph, posing of family, removal of sunglasses etc. Paying attention to these things doesn't take long but it does make a huge difference to the final image.
How long do we need for family formals?
We recommend 3 mins for each photo - this includes gathering together the family members, positioning them in the photo and taking the photos. Therefore if you have 10 groups you will need to allow 30 minutes. Depending upon the couple we may be requested to photograph more or less groups however it is important to factor in the time it takes to capture these photos when putting together your timeline for the day.
Do I need a list of family formals?
Yes!! This is extremely important to ensure this part of the day runs smoothly. We can help you make up a list if you are unsure.
The list should include the names of each person and who they are.
eg. Bride and Groom + Grooms Parents (John and Mary)
Bride and Groom + Grooms Parents (John and Mary) + grooms siblings (Jilly and Sue)
A copy of the list should be given to your photographer a week before the wedding and also to a family member or member of the bridal party who knows the guests and can help identifying each group.
A word on large group photos - these have become increasingly popular and are a great record of important people who shared in your special day. They also make a great full page spread in your wedding album. The large group photo is taken once your guests have had an opportunity to congratute you after the ceremony. Your photographer will look for a high vantage point from where to take the photograph such as a balcony or will improvise using a step ladder etc. Alteratively church steps make a perfect location as your guests can be easily staggered.
Group photo above taken from the balcony of the windmill at Windmill Gardens, Plumpton.
Group photo above taken from the top of a set of external stairs in the gardens at the Old Berwick Cheese Factory.