How to Create Your Wedding Family Portrait List (+ a Sample List)

If you have family at your wedding, you may want to put them in some formal, posed pictures. These family portraits probably won't be the most exciting part of the day, but as time goes by, they remind you who was there with you on your wedding day and what they looked like then. They capture groups of people who may not come together very often. They also look great on the wall in your parents' house!

But creating your wedding family portrait list can feel daunting. The permutations are nearly endless. Yet the time you want to spend standing smiling stiffly in front of the camera during your cocktail hour is not...

To help guide you through this process, I'm going to share a few golden rules and some questions to ask yourself when compiling your portrait list. You can also scroll right down to the bottom for a flexible portrait list template and a sample portrait list from a recent wedding!

Golden (Door) Rules:

  1. Ten to twelve combinations is usually sufficient. After that the smiles start to feel a little forced. (I suggest a hard cap at 15 groupings for my couples.)
  2. Since the whole day is about you as a couple, the both of you can be in almost every picture. This helps pare down your list, so you can get back to your party more quickly!
  3. Bigger groupings take more time to put together (and it's more likely that someone will wander off to the bar and need to be retrieved while everyone else stands around waiting). Have a clear plan to communicate who needs to be where. And remember, you can always take informal photos (e.g. your college friends, all the cousins) during the cocktail hour or on the dance floor. Just let your photographer know you want these groups, even if they don't make the "official" list.

Questions to consider:

  • If my siblings or cousins have gotten married, which photos was I most drawn to? What did I feel was missing, if anything?
  • Do I have any specific plans for these photos that dictate some of my groupings? (E.g. "I plan to give my parents a framed photo of my siblings and me as a thank you gift." "Mom will definitely want a picture of our immediate family for the annual family holiday card.")
  • Are there are any especially sentimental combos I need? (E.g. "My grandpa is 97 and I want a special photo with him.")

Wedding Family Portrait List Template:


  • Couple + Partner 1's immediate family
  • Couple + Partner 2's immediate family
  • Couple + all parents or Partner 1 with their parents and Partner 2 with their parents


  • Couple + each partner's extended family
  • Siblings (both sides at once or each side separately)
  • Special family combinations, e.g. grandparents, godparents, nieces & nephews, flower girls, etc.
  • Photo with officiant

And just to be super thorough, let me show you a real life example! This is the exact portrait list from a recent wedding I photographed (with the names removed).

Sample Family Portrait List:

  • Couple + A's extended family
  • Couple + A’s immediate family +/- unmarried partner of sibling
  • Couple + A’s grandparents
  • A + siblings
  • Couple + B's extended family
  • Couple + B's immediate family
  • Couple + B’s Grandma
  • Couple + B's brother's family (brother, spouse, nephews)
  • B + siblings
  • Couple + Officiant

So there you have it! If you have any questions along the way, just let me know. I'm more than happy to talk you through it.

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