Ultimate Wedding Shot List: A Photography Guide

Weddings

November 13, 2022

After your wedding has been and gone, your photos will become the memories you relive for a lifetime. So how can you make sure all of the important moments are captured throughout the day? While we have a wealth of experience when it comes to essential wedding day snaps (we’re more than 20 years in the wedding business!), no two couples are ever the same. Maybe you’ll be wearing a family heirloom, surprising your partner with a gift, or requesting something particular for the centerpieces that deserves to be documented! Whatever your priorities are, creating a wedding photography checklist is a great way to ensure we are all on the same page. Of course, we have our list of important moments to capture, but it’s still a good idea to create your own, particularly if there are key elements or people you want to get a shot of.

To help you, we’ve rounded up the ultimate wedding photography checklist below, from bridal portraits and centerpieces right down to the dance floor. This is a handy list of our own to use as a starting point, but it’s worth thinking about any extra shots that you might like to add, too. For example, you might want a group portrait with your college pals, a photograph of the amazing gifts you selected for your bridesmaids, a snapshot of the mischief going on while you are getting ready, or a picture of the special table plan that you specifically requested.

We’ve taken it to the limits, getting into the finer details and you probably won’t want all of these depending on how you’ve planned the day and who you have invited. This list is really a template for you to expand upon and edit as you see fit!  If there’s anything, in particular, you’ve envisioned, then it’s important to communicate that with us in the months leading up to your wedding day. Use our example shot list below as a general outline – and build off of it!

Wedding Photography Checklist: Pre-Ceremony

The morning of your wedding will be packed with nerves and excitement. This is the perfect time to document candid photos of you and your bridal party, along with the finer details of your wedding day look. We don’t miss these special moments:

  • Bride and bridal party getting hair and makeup done
  • Details and accessories
  • Stationery suite
  • Perfume
  • Jewelry
  • Shoes
  • Wedding rings
  • Family heirlooms
  • Wedding dress (close-up)
  • Wedding dress (hanging)
  • Bridesmaid dresses
  • Bridal bouquet
  • Bridesmaid bouquets
  • Bride putting on the dress (helped by MOH/mother of the bride)
  • Bride putting on shoes and jewelry
  • Bridesmaids reacting to bride in her dress
  • Father of the bride’s first look/reaction
  • Bridesmaids together
  • Bride and bridesmaids together
  • Bride and parents
  • Bride alone
  • Bridal party leaving the house
  • Bride in wedding car
  • Groom wedding details
  • Shoes
  • Tie
  • Boutonnieres
  • Cologne
  • Cufflinks
  • Groom suit
  • Groomsmen suits
  • Groom and groomsmen getting ready
  • Mother of the groom attaching boutonniere
  • Groomsmen together
  • Groom and groomsmen together
  • Groom with parents
  • Groom alone

On the list above, we include the First look, too. Of course, this is entirely optional, but many couples choose to see each other before the ceremony as a way of spending a few quiet moments together and/or banishing any nerves, and so, they ask us to capture the moment. But the first look shot isn’t just for couples. We love the first looks between the bride and her father, grandparents, and her children. It’s a beautiful way to capture their emotional reaction.

Wedding Photography Checklist: Ceremony

The ceremony is where some of your most treasured memories and emotions will be shared. We love to make sure all of the important moments are documented with these essential ceremony snaps:

  • Ceremony venue 
  • Exterior
  • Interior (before guests arrive)
  • Flower arrangements
  • Arbour and furniture
  • Signage
  • Groom and groomsmen arriving
  • Guests arriving
  • Groom and groomsmen waiting at the altar
  • Parents seated
  • Grandparents seated
  • Bride and bridal party arriving in wedding car
  • Bride stepping out of the car
  • Bridal party entrance
  • Bride walking down the aisle
  • Groom reaction
  • The couple standing at the altar
  • Wide shot
  • Close-ups
  • Exchanging of vows
  • Exchanging of rings
  • Other ceremony participants
  • Flower girls/page boys
  • Musician
  • Guest readings
  • First kiss
  • Guest reactions
  • The signing of the register
  • Recessional/walking back down the aisle
  • Confetti/rice throwing

Wedding Photography Checklist: Post-Ceremony

Immediately after your ceremony is an ideal time to capture family photos and wedding portraits. We will be relying on your shot list here, so make sure you customize one to suit your unique family situation and the specific combinations you require. Most couples set aside time after the ceremony for their wedding portraits, although it’s becoming more and more popular for couples who have a First Look to take them before the ceremony. Either way, your portrait session will probably take between 40 minutes and two hours, depending on the location and the shots you require. We urge couples to communicate with us if time is a priority for them. Make sure to prepare a list of all the people you want in the portraits, as well as the specific combinations you require. It’s also a good idea to ask a close friend outside of the bridal party to work with us on rounding people up. Some key shots to consider include:

  • Candid photos of newlyweds with guests
  • Greeting/embracing guests after the ceremony
  • Guests mixing and mingling
  • Family photos
  • Newlyweds together
  • Bride with Parents
  • Bride with immediate family
  • Groom with parents
  • Groom with immediate family
  • Newlyweds with the bride’s family
  • Newlyweds with the groom’s family
  • Newlyweds with bride’s parents
  • Newlyweds with the groom’s parents
  • Newlyweds with both sets of parents
  • Other significant groups of family/friends
  • Group photo (all guests)
  • After family photos have been captured at the venue, you might choose to have a portrait session with your wedding party at a separate location. These photos are generally a mix of candid and posed shots, including:
  • Portraits of bride/groom individually
  • Portraits of bride/groom together
  • Bride with bridesmaids 
  • Groom with groomsmen 
  • Bride with groomsmen
  • Groom with bridesmaids
  • Wedding party together

Wedding Photography Checklist: Reception

Amongst the whirlwind of your wedding day, you might not have a chance to see your reception set-up before guests arrive. We know you’ve poured your heart and soul into designing your wedding day with your wedding planner, so we capture all the details for you with these must-have shots:

  • Venue exterior 
  • Venue interior (without guests)
  • Styling details
  • Centerpieces
  • Floral arrangements
  • Stationery
  • Signage
  • Place settings
  • Guest favors
  • Wedding cake
  • Bridal table
  • Bridal party entrance
  • Newlyweds entrance
  • Toasts and speeches
  • Plated meals
  • Signature drinks/cocktails
  • Newlyweds sitting at the bridal table
  • Newlyweds mingling with guests
  • Guests mingling with each other
  • First Dance
  • Father daughter dance
  • Mother son dance
  • Musician/entertainment performing
  • Guests dancing
  • Newlyweds dancing with guests
  • Cake cutting
  • Bouquet toss
  • Newlyweds leaving the reception
  • Sparkler exit
  • Getaway car

Bonus Tips on Nailing Your Wedding Photos:

With your checklist now sorted, how can you nail your wedding photos on the day? Keep the following tips in mind to help you achieve the very best shots:

Book an engagement shoot. Think of it as a practice run before the real thing! Not only will you receive some beautiful shots of you and your partner to use across your wedding website, but you’ll also build your confidence in front of the camera. Want to read more on the matter? Check out our blog post with All you need to know about Engagement Photography!

Scout your photo locations in advance. With limited time between your ceremony and reception, make sure you choose a portrait location nearby – you don’t want to be late to your party! 

Consider your timeline. If possible, try to time your portraits just before sunset for the best natural light and a beautiful golden glow. Check out our Photography Schedule post with precious tips you need to know!

Request an unplugged ceremony. Asking guests to keep their phones off will help us capture all of the important moments without distraction. Your celebrant will be able to communicate this to your guests, or you could include a custom sign at your ceremony entrance.

Choose a photographer you feel relaxed around. When you feel comfortable, you’ll look more natural on camera, too. Here are some tips that will help you Overcome Camera Snyness and Photo Anxiety.

Communication Is Key

Remember – you can’t redo your wedding photos, so don’t be afraid to communicate with us your must-have moments before the day. This leads us to our final tip. Trust your photographer! We are seasoned professionals and will happily guide you through the process with our knowledge and suggestions, too. Of course, getting the wedding photographs of your dreams also requires you to find a wedding photographer whose work and style you adore, so it’s important to devote time and effort to find the right person for the job! We are confident that our unobtrusive wedding photography style will work wonders for your wedding day!

Looking for a wedding photographer in Europe to capture your perfect wedding day? That sounds like us! Contact us!

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