​How to Handle Your Wedding Portraits When Your Family Has Split Up

Mar 11, 2021 | Planning

Sometimes weddings have stresses and strains in the planning process that we don't always know how to handle in the best way. One such stress can be a divided family. For whatever reason (divorces, break ups, family disagreements), your portrait session on your wedding day might fill you with dread but we're here to say it needn't be that way. Fine Art Curation member and film photographer Amy Mulder is here to share her tips and advice on how to get through your wedding day portraits as easily as possible...

"Our goal as wedding photographers is to make sure you have an enjoyable and stress free day. A day where you can be fully present. Family portraits can be a little tricky, so let’s talk about how to navigate through some of the awkward and potentially dramatic and stressful situations that can arise. This way, you can go confidently in to your wedding celebration knowing that you have done all you can to make things go smoothly.

There is no way around it, family dynamics are real. Divorce happens. A short term girl friend or boyfriend may be present. Someone may not be supportive of you or the person you marry, or possibly at odds with someone else in the family. Step mom and mom may absolutely despise each other. And, there will almost always be a family member who wants their own set of pictures of specific groupings and people that they want."

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First, I would like to say to you, do not feel bad about family dynamics!! We all have them, no one is immune! It is your and your spouse’s wedding day and celebration. If parents have divorced and you still want a photograph of you and your parents, that is absolutely okay. I have never encountered parents who would not do that for their child. It may feel awkward, but if is your day, and you deserve the photographs that you want!

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For family portraits, communication with your photographer and planner are key. We always ask our couples if there are any family situations we should know about. Including family members that may no longer be with them. To protect everyone, we always ask for a list of family combinations that the couple would like portraits of.

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Having a specific list of family combinations has so many positive benefits:

1. No one is forgotten. The last thing you want to do is look back on your photos and realize grandma was not in any!

2. We can stick to the list. This way if someone asks for a specific photo of people they want we can easily tell them ‘absolutely! Please find us during cocktail hour or at reception so we can get that for you! Right now, we have a specific list we are working from and want to make sure that the couple receives all of the portraits they have asked for. But definitely come find us!’

3. It in on us as your photographers to take the brunt of any frustration of family combinations not being photographed. It is ‘our’ list we have and want to stick to.

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Our advice for couples that do not want certain people in their family photos is to have one taken with them in, and another taken with them out. Very easy to do, we do it all of the time. Then feelings can be spared. It also alleviates any anger and drama of having someone noticeably left out. Best thing you can do - keep your list short. The longer the list, the more people start to get creative.

As your photographers, we are there to have your back and are here to help you navigate through these family portraits and keep the joy in every part of your wedding celebration.

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Photography: Amy Mulder Photography


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