Beyond Family: Why Your Wedding Photos Should Include Friends

October 12, 2023 Best Tips

When we think of wedding photography, what often comes to mind are the classic family shots: the bride and groom with their parents, siblings, and maybe a grandparent or two. These photos are timeless keepsakes, but what if we told you there's room to expand the frame? What if, along with family, you could capture another equally important facet of your life—your friends? In this blog post, we'll explore why you might want to rethink the traditional concept of "family photos" to include the friends who've stood by you, laughed with you, and helped shape the person you are today.

In many traditional weddings, the focus of family photos has been, well, family. But let's be real; in today's world, the lines between family and friends are often beautifully blurred. For many of us, friendships offer a unique type of companionship that complements our relationships with family. These are the people who've laughed with us, cried with us, and been by our side for some of life's most unforgettable moments. They’re the ones who reply to our memes, listen to our rants, and know our coffee order by heart.

The concept of "chosen family" is something many modern couples can relate to. Your chosen family consists of the close friends who have stood by you through thick and thin. They've earned a special place in your heart and, for many, a spot at the top table during the wedding reception.

In fact, it's become increasingly common for couples to have more friends than family members at their weddings. Whether it’s because families are spread out geographically, or simply because friendships have taken on a significant role, it’s clear that friends make up a big part of our support systems. So, why shouldn't they be a part of those treasured wedding photos that you'll look back on for years to come?

The Benefits of Including Friends in Wedding Photos

When you look back at your wedding album, what do you want to see? A narrow slice of your life focusing only on family? Or a vibrant tapestry that includes all the people who make your life rich and full? Including friends in your wedding photos isn’t just a trend—it’s a way to capture a fuller picture of your life and the relationships that matter most to you.

Capture a Fuller Picture of Your Life and Relationships

Friends are the family we choose. Including them in your wedding photos means you’re not just capturing faces; you're capturing years of shared experiences, laughter, and support. It tells a more complete story of who you are and who helped shape you into the person standing at the altar.

Make Photo Sessions More Fun and Less Stressful

Let’s face it, formal family photos can sometimes feel like a chore, especially when you’re working against the clock to get to the reception. Throwing friends into the mix can make the experience more relaxed and fun. After all, these are the people who know how to make you laugh and can turn even a photo session into a party.

Include Friends Who Have Special Roles

Are any of your friends officiating your wedding, serving as the day-of coordinator, or even just giving a toast? These are pivotal roles that contribute to the success and emotional resonance of your big day. Capturing them in your photos is a beautiful way to honor their contributions and immortalize their special roles.

If you're on board with breaking tradition and including your friends in your wedding photos, planning is key. From communication to scheduling and location, each aspect requires some thought to make sure everything runs smoothly.


You’ve got an idea, and it’s a good one. Now, it’s time to share it with your photographer. As a wedding photographer myself, I can tell you that a little heads-up goes a long way in helping us capture the moments that are most important to you. The more we know about your vision, the better we can make it a reality.


The wedding day can be a whirlwind, so pinpointing the best moments for these special photos is crucial. Consider adding a short "Friends Session" right after the formal family photos, or plan a fun, casual shoot during the reception when everyone’s loosened up a bit.


Location can make or break a photo. Discuss with your photographer the best spots for these expanded family pictures. Whether it’s a cozy corner of the venue, a beautiful outdoor setting, or even a funky urban backdrop, the right location can add an extra layer of awesomeness to your photos.

You might be wondering how this friend-inclusive approach actually plays out on the big day. Allow me to share a real-life example from a wedding I had the honor of photographing. At this event, the couple included only their immediate families—parents and siblings. The rest of the guests were their close friends. The bride and groom had sorted these friends into specific groups for photos and informed them beforehand. After the ceremony, we went through each group in a way that was more like a fun game than a rigid photo session. The couple's meticulous planning not only made for some stunning pictures but also allowed them to get a photograph with every single guest.

The couple summed up their experience like this: "Danieka went above and beyond, even sharing a wedding day timeline that helped us run ahead of schedule. She made us feel so comfortable and captured moments that genuinely wowed both us and our guests. We couldn’t be happier and would recommend her wholeheartedly."

So, the idea of expanding your family photos to include friends isn't just a trendy concept; it's a meaningful choice that can add depth and emotion to your wedding album. Many couples, like the one I described, have found it a rewarding experience and a true reflection of their community of love and support.

So you're in the thick of wedding planning and wondering how to make sure your photos capture every essential moment? Look no further! Here's the ultimate checklist for wedding photography that includes both family and friend photo ops. This guide aims to help you balance traditional family photos with the vibrant energy your friends bring into your life.

Family Photos

  • Bride/Groom with parents
  • Bride/Groom with siblings
  • Entire immediate family

Extended Family Photos

  • Bride/Groom with grandparents
  • Group shot of all extended family members

Friendship Moments

  • Bride/Groom with best friends
  • Bride/Groom with college friends
  • Bride/Groom with work friends

Special Wedding Roles

  • Couple with the officiant (especially if it's a friend)
  • Couple with the wedding planner (again, especially if it's a friend)

By carefully planning these shots, you're not just ticking boxes; you're preserving precious memories in a comprehensive and meaningful way. Feel free to print this checklist or share it with your wedding photographer to make sure you capture everything that matters to you.

In the flurry of wedding planning and the whirlwind of the big day itself, photos stand as lasting memories. While family pictures are a staple, overlooking your friends would be a missed opportunity to capture the full scope of your relationships. Friends aren't just guests at your wedding; they're key characters in the story of your life. By including them in your wedding photos, you're creating a richer, more complete narrative—one that truly reflects the community that supports your love.

Ready to discuss capturing all the important people in your life on your big day? Reach out and let's make sure your wedding photography includes every face that makes you smile. Because, let's be real, family isn't just about blood; it's about love, laughter, and shared moments. And that's photo-worthy if you ask me.