Ah, the daunting task of coordinating what your family will wear. Pinterest, Instagram, and even Facebook have set a high bar for picking out the perfect photo-worthy, coordinated attire.
Deep breaths. I promise we will get through this together!
I recommend starting at one of two places--either with your favorite color or your favorite outfit.
The first time I had family pictures taken I was obsessed with this blue and white gingham dress for my daughter. I decided it would be the centerpiece of our family photos, and I made everyone plan around it. I went with a combination of blue, white, and yellow. We were going to have our pictures taken on a beach in Florida along with my brother and his family.
After my younger daughter was born, I took the favorite color approach. I told everyone to wear red or black. They mostly listened. It was November, and we were having pictures taken in my living room surrounded by white walls, a lot of windows, and a gray sofa. The red and black popped--and didn't require anyone go shopping.
Picking Outfits for a Group
Step 1: Identify that favorite shirt, dress, blazer, tie--whatever item makes you smile and the stars dazzle in your eyes when you look at it. Look through your closet first and decide what you feel good wearing. (If you feel good in it, you will be smile bigger and genuinely look happy in your pictures.) You do not need to run out to the mall and go on a shopping spree (but if you need a good excuse to do just that, you have my permission).
Step 2: Figure out what colors complement those in your chosen outfit. Without diving too deep into color theory, google "color wheel". Colors on opposite sides of the wheel create a bold, vibrant feel. Shades of the same color create a more subtle feeling. If you want bright and festive, pick complementary colors. If you want soft and sweet, try analogous or monochromatic colors.
Step 3: Keep it simple. A pattern or two can be nice, but solids are great, too--and necessary. So are layers. Mix and match but don't over think it. Strips, plaids, and polka dots are too much. A blue plaid button-down for your husband paired with a yellow sundress and navy cardigan will look smashing.
Step 4: Balance everything with neutrals. Chances are the background you have chosen has some colors and patterns that will add to the overall look of your portrait. Use neutrals as your friend and fill in the holes of your color palette. (But please please please stay away from all white--it washes you out. Use it as an accent, not the centerpiece color.)
Whatever you do don't stress. Wear what you are comfortable in and it going to make you easily smile. If no one wants to coordinate, it'll still work. No one ever found fault in a rainbow of colors.