The other day, I was chatting with one of my good friends, Ashley Granstad, who is the beauty behind the lens of Brooke Images Photography. She and her husband Greg have an incredible way of capturing the most special moments that happen on a wedding day. I love working with them because I know that not only are they able to capture the love between our couples in a photography, but they also take the time to capture the entire love story and details of the day as well!
In the final few months, leading up to the wedding day, there are so many final pieces and loose ends that are being tied up in pretty white bows. From alterations, to transportation logistics, but most importantly, the wedding day timeline. Sure, your wedding planner (or maybe even yourself) might have already created one, but just as the planning process is constantly evolving, so should your timeline.
This is where Ashley and I started brainstorming this post! Both of us have had clients that in the last 3-4 months of the planning, have put off creating their ‘must take shot’ list and ‘family photo list’. We both know that it is a cumbersome task, but think about it: once it’s done, it’s done. In a few situations, we have had to educate our clients on what it really means ‘to provide your photographer with a must take shot or family photo list.’ Once they sent it to us, their expectations and the wedding day timeline that we have had were not coinciding. So that meant two things, one we had to edit our wedding day timeline (which is no big deal) but we also needed to monitor our client’s expectations of how the photographer was going to take those photos in the time allotted.
*Here is an insider tip: you will always have your timeline made from the beginning of the planning process because you will set the time of your ceremony and the end time of your reception. Everything else can and will be shifted around accordingly. So many things change and evolve over the planning process, so it would be silly to think that your timeline wouldn’t also change! Don’t think that you have done something wrong or your wedding professional doesn’t know what they are doing. Expectations and situations are always being changed, so we have learned to adapt!
The best way we came up with to help other clients and brides-to-be who may be in the same boat was to do a little informal interview! I asked Ashley a few questions and here are her responses!
DE: Could you tell me what exactly is a “must take shot” list and what should be included?
AG: A “must take shot” list is a list of photos you want your photographer to take throughout the wedding day that you think they might not take. An example would be something sentimental sewn into your dress. Or a fraternity shot with the groom during the reception. Or even a casual photo of the bride with her godparents. Most photographers do not want huge list of everything you want photographed through on the wedding day (a photo of the dress, a photo of the rings, a photo of the bride with bridesmaids etc….) but because something might not be obvious but are important to the couple it is important to share that with the photographer. You hire a professional photographer because they do this for a living and know what to photograph. You have to keep in mind that all the people who are at the wedding are strangers to the photographer so they do not know who is really important to you.
DE: So then what is a “family photo” list and what should be included?
AG: We want our clients to provide us with a “family photo” list that doesn’t just give ‘relationships’ to the Bride and Groom, but the actual names of those persons near and dear to you. For instance, I wouldn’t put, Bride and Groom with Grandparents on Bride’s side. Instead, you would want to put, Allie & Edward with Grandmother Judith and Step Grandfather Frank. Typically, family photos or family portraits are taken during cocktail hour so we only have 45 minutes to an hour to not only take all those family photos but the wedding party photos and our newlywed portraits (even if the bride and groom did a first look). Over the course of a wedding day, the most tedious part of the day is the family portraits. To make this run as smoothly as possible we ask for a list of must have photos. The combinations of photos you want taken during the the allotted family portrait time. But, you need to be conscious that some family members will wander off, so if they are important to you, make sure they understand where and when to be. We may need to skip those photos to stay on track with our schedule.Keep in mind that is is for the exact combinations of photos you want. This list should consist of the photos you may want to frame in the future, or put in your album or give as a gift. The thing about family photos, is the list could go on and on. We suggest you stick to immediate family and grandparents. Typically just those photos will take 20 minutes after a ceremony, which is normally all the time allotted in a wedding day schedule. and let’s face it most people do not want to spend more time than that taking those photos. Any additional photos will cut into the time the photographer has with the wedding party and B&G portraits.
*Insider tip: If you are not doing a first look, typically the time allotted after the ceremony is less than one hour. So you have to break that time up and us it as efficiently as possible. -20 minutes with the family-10 minutes with the whole wedding party (bride and bridesmaids photos and groom and groomsmen photos are typically done before the ceremony)then 20-30 minutes with the bride and groom
DE: When should you start working on a family photo and must have list?
AG: You should start working on a family photo and must take shot list anywhere from 2-6 months before the ceremony. Greg and I require our clients to provide the family photo list at least one month prior so we can confirm the time allotted in the schedule is right.
DE: Is there a big difference between the must-take shot list and family photo list?
AG: Yes! A must have shot list is photos you want taken throughout the day.A family photo list is a list of formal family photos. The exact combinations you want taken. An example of a family photo list is (the name of the person should be listed out as well, helps the photographer call out the family member who needs to be in the photo)
Bride with Dad
Bride with Mom
Bride with Mom and Dad
Bride and Groom with Mom and Dad
Bride and Groom with Mom, Dad and Siblings,
bride and groom with mom, dad, siblings and grandparents
B&G with grandparents
Groom with Mom
Groom with Dad
Groom with mom an dad
Bride and groom with mom, dad and siblings
Bride and groom with Mom, dad, siblings and Grandparents
B&G with grandparents
Other combinations that family members may like Bride her siblings only, Groom with his siblings only.
I always suggest photos that include aunt, uncles, extended family members could be taken in a more casual/candid setting at the reception. Maybe while you are mingling during dinner, have your photographer come with you so you can get some casual photos with the important people to you. When you have that many people hanging around waiting to take photos after a ceremony, the time is takes for family portraits because much more. People are not paying attention, they are talking and wandering off.You hire a photographer to take photos obviously so if you want those photos, that is perfectly fine but you just have to let your know you want those taken so the time for those photos can be scheduled. You can’t give a photographer 40 combinations with 50 plus people included 2 weeks before and expect there to be enough time in the schedule for that.
DE: How long does it take to capture a full list?
AG: Typically, a list of 10-15 combinations would take 20 minutes. Some photos take a minute, some photos can take 2-4 minutes because we have to get people in the photo. People love to talk, stop and give the bride or groom a hug. You would think the photos should only take a second but getting everyone in the photo, then getting them to pay attention and smile is what takes the time.