Tips for Family Photos on a Wedding Day

Dear Jasmine,
I really, really struggle with the formal portrait sessions at weddings. Yesterday I had an hour to get 14 groupings done. Right after the ceremony all the girls disappeared to touch up their makeup. The event coordinator didn't help one bit he just said, “I think everyone is looking for direction from you.” And the biggest hinderance of all—OPEN BAR! Yes I had names of family members on my list but I didn't know who was who in a sea of 200+ people, and one family member kept take photos with her camera. Instead of yelling at her, the bride yelled at me to try to get her in the picture! Everyone was getting drunk and they really didn't care to be in the photos.

No joke–I'm actually going to buy a megaphone for my next wedding. I'm not shy but I'm definitely not assertive. Any advice?
Herding Cats Would be Easier

Dear Herder,
I'm going to be admit gathering people for family pictures is hardest part of the wedding day, the most time consuming, and the least favorite. But family photos are some of the most important, so there's that. I'm happy you had a list, but lists are only helpful when there's someone there to help.

If/when a bride sends me a list of family photos, I review her requests to ensure we're on the same page, then I email and ask her to assign one organized family member from her side of the family and one from the groom's side of the family to help with photos. Here's a sample email I might send:
Hello Doll Face!
Thanks for the email regarding family photos and I love knowing we're on the same page! I did notice that there are a bit of familial combinations aside from your immediate family that I'll need help with. Can you please assign one organized (a.k.a. bossy) family member from each side to help corral members for photos? In turn, these assistants will have my eternal devotion and I'll buy them a drink during cocktail hour! 😉
Please let both sides of the families know they are NOT to leave at the end of the ceremony. They'll be tempted to, but please ensure there are at least two family members keeping everyone in their seats. As soon as the ceremony has been cleared, I'll start with family photos and work as quickly as possible with help from my assistant and I'll ensure every gets to cocktail hour quickly!
Feel free to let me know if there's anything else you need from me!
Can't wait to meet your families,

Always take time to educate your clients and let them know what you need to ensure everything flows smoothly. If you'd like to read more about how I deal with common frustrations on a wedding day, be sure to sign up for my NEWSLETTER as I'll be sharing my tips and tricks on how I always get what I need from a client on a wedding day!