The Wedding Day Photography Planning Conversation Part 2 Formals

The next big part of the Planning Conversation is to script out the Formals.  These are the lined up, standing straight, well, formal shots of the day.  The Formals are typically done at the church alter or at the place where the bride and groom stood for the ceremony.  They can be shot anywhere.

My interpretation is that the bride and groom are in all the shots (except just the bride at the end).  It is common for the bride or groom to step down occasionally for an “all girls shot” or “Dad and brothers”.  I have developed a script for the Formals and I like to build it during the conversation with the couple, checking off their shot from their list as we go.

First shot.  Do you want a shot with your priest or pastor?

Then we start with the bride’s family.  A bit about family group shots.  When both sets of parents are there and there are not any step parent are the simplest shots to plan.  Having one or more step parents complicates the shot list, and it is all just planning, been there, done this, we will get it done.  There are families where some members do not get along, let me know, I have alway been able to make it work.  No fist fights to date.

A couple more things about the Formal part of the day.  This part of the day can often get hurried due to schedule or other timing issues.  There are a lot of people standing around that don’t know where to go and when not to go there.  The couple may have told “Uncle Joe” to wait and he left, or one the bridesmaids has stepped out and cannot be found. It happens, we work with those that are there, send one person to find anyone missing and plan to shoot later in the day if people have left. As I finish each family section I will approach the couple and ask if there is any additional shot they want.  Maybe a long lost cousin is at the ceremony and you want a shot, please ask, be glad to.  The opposite may also happen.  “Aunt Sue” want a shot with the couple and her family and the shot is not on the list.  If I’m certain the couple would like the shot, up they go, shoot away.  If I’m not certain I will look to the bride and if she gives me “The Look”, I politely tell the person we cannot do that shot at this time, could we possibly do it later?  I don’t want the person to be upset with the bride at all and have not problem being the bad guy.

Back to the shot list

I start with the bride’s parents, add siblings, add siblings’ family, add grandparents and then just the couple with each grandparent set.  We then shoot the couple with both sets of parents.  Then it is the same family groupings for the groom’s side.  After all family shots I shoot what I call the Bridal set.  Bride and groom with just the girls, just the guys, girls and guys, girls and guys and little people, just little people, just the bride and groom, just the bride.

In the end, I have a shorthand list of all the requested Formal shots.  Below is a typical list.  I have multiple printed copies of the list and I have the document on my phone.

  • BG pastor
  • BG B M&D
  • + 1 bro, 2 sis
  • +1 wife, 1husb, 3kids
  • + Gma, Gma&Gpa
  • just Gma
  • just Gma&Gpa
  • Both sets
  • BG G M&D
  • + 1 bro, 1 sis
  • + 1husb, 2kids
  • + Gma, Gpa
  • just Gma
  • just Gpa
  • Bridal Set

Part Three – Pretty Pictures