Formal photographs of your near & dear ones are an important part of your wedding day. It's rare that so many people, from so many different walks of life, are brought together in one place for such a joyous occasion. So, that fact should be capitalized upon, but not to the tune of hours & hours of posing.
Because of the more photojournalistic approach I take, one may think that I simply don't make it a point to schedule time for these photographs, or that I at least may abbreviate such a process. (Some photographers even go so far as to plainly say that they don't take such photos.) And further, posed family photographs aren't highlighted on my blog or showcased in my portfolio often, so I see it beneficial to speak on the topic for a moment.
The Process. Prior to their wedding day, I make it a point to chat particularly with both bride & groom about their immediate family members. I suggest a handful of poses (read: around fifteen, depending on a few factors) to cover all of our bases with respect to immediate family. This is of course a back-and-forth conversation - there's no template that covers everything every time (each wedding is different, after all, and I'm sensitive to this).
The goal here is to put together a list of groupings - and a time slot of twenty minutes or less - that's sure to capture memories you'll appreciate for years & years. Then, on wedding day, I'm rather vocal during these twenty minutes. I call folks by their first name and, because of the planning we've done, I can be very explicit with what's happening and who's involved.
Quick, easy, painless, and even fun. (And I'll of course still plan to take plenty of unposed, candid shots of your nears & dears, as well.)
Last thing. These photos can happen in a variety of atmospheres. If you lean toward the traditional, we'll shoot these around your altar. And if not, we'll find a spot in the shade outside. All of that to say there's no right or wrong way to do these; as with most of our other planning pieces, we'll ultimately find what works best for your particular taste.
Here are some examples.