What to Wear to Your Family Reunion

If you’re planning on family pictures while everyone is together in one place, we have some tips to make your session go smoother!

Deciding what to wear in family pictures can feel like a daunting task, but it’s a lot easier when not left to the last minute. Be sure to communicate with each family group on clothing choices.

The first thing I ask when someone seeks advice on what to wear is where they plan to hang the portraits in their home, and what colors are in that room. For example, if you are planning to hang your prints in a family room that is painted red and black and you plan to wear orange and brown, it won’t work very well!

In the case of family reunions, the likelihood of everyone having their rooms painted in similar color schemes is quite low, so the best thing I can recommend is to plan clothing that you can all agree on, and preferably in neutrals like blues and browns. 

When planning your family outfits, remember there is a difference between matching and coordinating. Ten years ago for family pictures everyone matched – think white button down shirts and khakis, etc. Most people don’t match our family on a daily basis, and if we do match for their shoot they are changing out of those clothes as soon as their shoot is over because it doesn’t feel like “them.”

The key? Coordinate colors, don’t match with a “family uniform.”

How can you do this?

I highly recommend you try on your clothes before the holiday week/weekend to make sure you feel comfortable in them and that they fit well.  

As you select your outfits, keep the following points in mind:

  • Pick a color or two and then coordinate one of those into everyone’s outfit. 
  • Everyone doesn’t need to wear all the colors you choose.  You can incorporate the colors with scarfs, sweaters, hair bows, or even shoes.
  • Split up the colors where possible.  If I’ve got six people in my family, and have selected three main colors, I don’t necessarily want all of those colors on top, nor to the people that are close in age–I want to split them up. I want to weigh some color towards the bottom in one or two of them as well with shoes and pants/skirts.
  • On the other hand, for larger family groups another option is to plan an overall color palette with each sub-family planning to match – for instance, everyone with khakis, and then each family group wearing a different shade of pastel shirt.
  • Ultimately the decision on what to wear is up to your family,  not me! I strive to give enough ideas to help you find what works for you.
  • The most important suggestion I can offer is this: Be yourself, but be the BEST VERSION of yourself. Take the time to plan your clothing, don’t just throw something on. Elevate your outfits beyond the everyday so that you’ll have family photos that you’ll want to show off for years to come!
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I have an entire Pinterest board with ideas on what to wear for your session! 

What not to wear for your family pictures?

While it varies by location, the Keweenaw Peninsula has a lot of dark pine trees. Because of this I recommend staying away from black, especially for tops, because you will blend into any dark trees behind. I have included a Pinterest pin below with an example of this. You are having family pictures taken as a way to make your family stand out, so don’t blend in by accident!


A few other things to note:

  • When scheduling your family photographs, late afternoon is a great time – not only is the light beautiful, but by planning it before dinner, you don’t have to worry about any food getting on your clothes. Another bonus is everyone is motivated to get it right the first time so they can get it over and eat!
  • Sunscreen is SO important the week before – Photoshop can correct minor skin issues but is not a magic wand, especially for sunburns and peeling!
  • Please remember to try on clothing ahead of time! There is nothing worse than realizing the day of that you do not have the proper/necessary undergarments, etc!
    If you’re not comfortable in what you are wearing there is a very good chance that this will come across in your pictures. This includes colored bras under light colored shirts (as well as the same issues with bottoms).

I hope you found these tips helpful in planning for your family photography session! Don’t forget to share this post with the rest of your family so you are all ready for your beautiful family pictures!

And remember – you’re never fully dressed without a smile!

Still have questions? Fill out my contact form and I’ll contact you personally!

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