How To Create a Good Client Experience Through Family Formals | themullinsphotoco.com

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How To Create a Good Client Experience Through Family Formals

Mar 6

Family formals used to be one of the most stressful parts of a wedding day for us. We were overwhelmed with all the aunts that wanted “just one more quick picture” and the half step uncle twice removed trying to take the exact same photo we were taking over our shoulder with an Ipad. We found that family formals were becoming the most stressful part of not just our day, but our couples as well. When you put 20 plus family members, including aunts, uncles and cousins in a room, they all start requesting more pictures, with different combinations, people start requesting pictures on their cell phones and brides start stressing and you loose control of the day. Our bride and groom were exhausted before we even got to the good stuff. Twenty weddings and one year in, we decided to rethink family formals and educate our brides on the most efficient way to do them. Not only does it make our day easier, it serves our couple by giving them more portraits, getting them to their reception sooner, and eliminating some of the stress and decision making on the wedding day. So how do we do it?
It’s all about education and expectations. We have something similar to this post typed out in our wedding magazine that we mail to all of our brides. During our very first initial meeting, we talk about how we need a list of family photos and why we recommend immediate family only. We go over all of this a THIRD time during the timeline meeting so that when the wedding day comes and aunt Marge asks the bride for a “quick picture,” the bride knows why that’s a slippery slope and tells her aunt that we have a special time reserved just for her photo during the reception. This is what we go over with the bride THREE times before her wedding day.
  1. We give a sample family list. (See the bottom for a copy of our list)
  2. We ask the bride to fill in her family members NAMES so that we don’t have to say “grandma” we can say “Louise.”
  3. We educate the bride at least three times about how if we stick to our list, we can get the photos done in 15 minutes but once we add in aunts, cousins, etc… it will take 30+ minutes. That means later reception intro, fewer portraits, and more stress!
  4. We talk about a hiding spot for the bride and groom to escape to once the ceremony is over so that we can clear the guests out and get them back to the ceremony location for family photos.
  5. We ask grandparents to just stay seated after the ceremony (that way we don’t lose grandma)
  6. We are very active during the day, we are (kindly) clearing guests out of the ceremony location and directing them to the reception. We are gently encouraging the bride and groom to avoid talking to friends and family until the reception. We tell the wedding party to wait in a designated spot for us (unless they are family.) Basically we only want essential personal around while we are trying to take family formals.
  7. Sarah reads the list, Adam places them and takes the picture. While Adam is placing people and taking the picture, Sarah is calling the next group.

Pro Tip: As far as actually shooting the photos, we try and find the balance between good light and connivence (especially for grandparents.) Sometimes we will do them at the ceremony location because it’s often separated from the reception and we can keep the guests away. Inside a church usually doesn’t have the best light, so if we have to stay inside, we like to use a flash (with a tungsten gel) to fill in shadows caused by the orange stage spotlights. We want to make sure that we are proud of ALL of our photos, so saying “the lighting was gross, so the pictures are gross” is NOT ok. We make sure and remove distracting things like mic stands and guitars. We shoot with a smaller aperture like F/2.8 for one row of people or even F/4 if there are multiple layers of people. Also, pay attention to details. Make sure jackets are buttoned, necklaces are straight, glasses aren’t on the top of grandpa’s head, etc… Some of our most profitable prints are family photos (thanks Marge!)

We realize all of this may sound like we hate guests and are super strict but if the bride still really REALLY wants all 56 of her cousins in the family formals, we will do it, and we will do it with a smile. If there are any HUGE portrait requests, we do those first, so the majority of the people can leave. We always want to serve our client and love on them, that is first and foremost. The wedding is about them, not us. So if she wants it, we will do it, and we will try and do it as smooth as possible.

Being organized is the key. Plan ahead, be confident, and smile!

B&G + Grooms parents
B&G + Grooms parents & siblings (spouses and kids included)
B&G + Grooms parents & siblings + Grooms grandparents
B&G + Grandparents
Grooms family is now done
B&G + Brides parents
B&G + Brides parents & siblings (spouses and kids included)
B&G + Brides parents & siblings + Brides grandparents
B&G + Grandparents

 

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