Capturing unforgettable moments: Your comprehensive wedding photo checklist.

With so much going on throughout the day, it’s easy to forget what you really want included in your wedding album.

The solution? Get a shot list. (No, not that list of fancy drinks for the reception.)

Having a wedding shot list helps your wedding photographer capture every special moment and detail of your big day. A shot list keeps the photographer organized and stress-free while they capture all the essential images. It also gives you peace of mind–after all, your wedding photos will be treasured for years to come, and you’ll want to make sure the collection is complete, personal, and memorable.

Take the time to create a comprehensive list with your photographer to make sure your special day is perfectly captured!

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groom hugging bride from behind between the hedges of a garden path

Essential moments to capture.

Start with the big picture—arrivals, departures, and group photos are all great ways to capture the essence of the event. Then, focus on the details—people’s faces, emotions, and interactions can all be incredibly powerful moments to capture. Don’t forget about the little things, like decorations, centerpieces, and other details that help bring the event to life. Be sure to capture a mix of candid and posed shots, as well as a variety of different angles and perspectives. 

Communicate with your photographer.

Clear communication helps to ensure that you and your photographer are on the same page, and that your wedding photography is a beautiful representation of your special day for years to come.

Clearly communicating your expectations, desires, and preferences with your photographer before your wedding day—including the type of shots you want, your preferred poses, specific family photos you want captured, and any other details that are important to you. This allows them to provide suggestions and professional insights based on their experience to help create the best results possible. 

bridal veil with lace trim spread on a stone bench under rose gold shoes studded with crystals

Pre-ceremony photos.

These photos are usually taken a few hours before the wedding ceremony, and captures the moments leading up to the ceremony, documenting the behind-the-scenes activities of the bride, groom, and their families. Pre-wedding pictures are a priceless part of the wedding album and help to tell the complete story of the wedding day.

Bride and groom getting ready.

“Getting ready” shots capture the excitement and anticipation leading up to the wedding ceremony. These include shots of hair and makeup being done, the bride putting on her dress, the groom getting ready with his groomsmen, and any other pre-wedding rituals.

Wedding attire and accessories detail shots. 

Detail shots, such as close-ups of the wedding dress, shoes, jewelry, boutonnières, and other accessories the bride and groom will be wearing, can help capture the unique style and personality of the couple.

Candid moments with bridal party and family.

Candid shots with the bridal party and family capture the joy and excitement of everyone involved in the wedding day. 

Bride and groom’s first look (if applicable).

Consider doing a first-look photo session, a private moment for the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony. This makes for some beautiful, intimate photos! 

Pre-ceremony photos capture the excitement and anticipation leading up to the wedding ceremony, as well as the unique style and personality of the couple.

bride and groom kissing while walking down aisle being showered with white flower petals

Ceremony photos

Wedding ceremony photos capture the most important moments of a couple’s big day. Here are details and moments you’ll probably want to include in your wedding album:

Venue and décor details.

These shots set the scene and help to create a visual story of the day. This includes everything from the flowers and table settings to the overall atmosphere of the location—the child playing in the foyer, for instance. 

Processional and bridal party entrance.

This is traditionally when the bride and her father walk down the aisle. Don’t forget to capture the expressions of the groom and guests as they await the arrival of the bride!

Bride’s grand entrance.

The bride’s grand entrance is the moment everyone’s been waiting for, so be sure to have your photographer capture it in all its glory! Have shots of the bride’s gown, veil, and bouquet, as well as the expression of the groom as he sees his bride for the first time.

Exchanging of vows and rings.

The exchanging of vows and rings is the heart of the ceremony; try to have it captured from multiple angles. Ask your photographer to zoom in on the couple’s faces and hands as they exchange their rings and vows. This creates intimate and emotional shots the couple will cherish forever.

The first kiss as a married couple.

The first kiss as a married couple is a defining moment of the ceremony, and it should be captured from multiple angles. A wide-angled shot captures the couple’s surroundings, as well as a close-up shot of the kiss, will ensure you capture both the emotion and the environment of the moment.

Recessional and post-ceremony celebration.

The recessional is an opportunity to capture the joy and excitement of the newly married couple and their guests. Make sure to get shots of the couple as they walk down the aisle together and exit the church or ceremony site. Afterwards, take some time to capture candid shots of the couple and guests celebrating their newlywed status.

Every couple’s wedding is unique. Communicate your vision to your photographer so they can capture your unique love story in stunning images.

happy bride walking while surrounded by her five laughing bridesmaids

Group portraits in your wedding.

Weddings are a time of celebration, love, and joy, a beautiful moment shared with family, friends, and loved ones. 

Bridal party portraits.

Bridal party portraits showcase the bond between the bride, groom, and their closest friends. These portraits are best taken before the ceremony, when the bridal party looks their best, are having fun, and being themselves.

Family portraits.

When taking family portraits, it’s essential to stay organized. Create a list of all the family members you’d like to photograph and communicate with the family members and let them know when they need to be ready. 

Extended family and friends.

Extended families play an essential role in the bride and groom’s life. These portraits show the support and love surrounding the newlyweds. Candid shots during the reception or ceremony are powerful here. 

Bonus tip: Encourage guests to take photos throughout the day and share them with you afterwards! You can also set up a photo booth, put out disposable cameras, or create a designated area for guests to take photos.

gold vessel holding a floral table arrangement beside gold rimmed white plates

Wedding reception photos.

The reception is where the bride and groom get to let their hair down and celebrate with their loved ones. Capture these special memories so that you can relive them for years to come.

Reception venue and décor details.

Before the guests arrive, capture photos of the reception venue and décor details, such as the centerpieces, table settings, and any unique details.

Grand entrance of the bride, groom, and bridal party.

When the bride and groom enter the reception, it’s a moment that should be captured from multiple angles. If possible, have pictures taken of both the bride and groom’s faces as well as the reactions of their guests. It’s also a good idea to capture the bridal party’s entrance, as they often come in with lots of energy and excitement.

First dance, parent dances, and any special performances.

The first dance is one of the most special moments of the reception, as are the parent dances. These are intimate, emotional moments for both the couple and their parents. If there are any special performances, like a live band or dance, make sure to capture those as well.

Toasts and speeches.

Toasts and speeches are special moments of the reception; pictures taken of the speakers and audience help the couple relive them later. Capture the person giving the toast, as well as the reactions of guests and the happy couple.

Cake cutting and dessert.

Another classic moment, try to get the cake cutting captured from multiple angles—catching both the couple’s faces and the guests in the same image, if possible. Don’t forget to capture photos of the other desserts as well, especially if they were made by a family member or friend.

Bouquet and garter toss.

If the wedding couple chooses to perform these wedding traditions, the bouquet and garter tosses can be a sweet, chic, or hilarious moment, so make sure to capture it! Try to have the photographer capture the reactions of both the tossers and the catchers.

Candid moments of guests.

Candid moments of guests laughing, chatting, and dancing that capture the energy and excitement of the reception are important to capture. These photos often end up being the ones the couple cherishes most, and ones their guests will appreciate having of themselves!

Grand exit or send-off of the newlyweds.

The grand exit or send-off of the newlyweds is often the last moment for the wedding photographer, so make it count! Have pictures that include the couple waving goodbye to their guests, or of them driving away in a car filled with balloons and streamers.

moody black and white image of a bride in a strapless dress walking between flowering plants, holding her train

Creative and unique shots.

The best wedding photographers think outside the box and bring creative and unique ideas to the table that capture the essence of the couple and their special day. 

Ideas for incorporating the couple’s personality and interests.

Add a personal touch to your wedding photographs by incorporating your personality and interests into the shots. As a couple, you likely have hobbies or interests that define you, so why not showcase them in your wedding photos? Include your pets in the photoshoot; use props that reflect your interests; or take photos at a location that’s special to you, such as where you first met or got engaged.

Unique poses and backdrops.

Wedding photographers have a keen eye for detail and try to find the perfect angles that make the photos more visually appealing. Aerial shots, anyone? Perhaps pose with a smoke bomb or sparklers or have your photographer capture silhouettes of you two against a sunset.

The goal with uniqueness in wedding photos, as always, is to capture the couple in a way that feels natural while still creating visually stunning images.

Incorporating the wedding theme or location into photos.

Incorporating the wedding theme or location into the photos creates a cohesive and memorable album that transports the viewer back to your special day. This could include photos taken of the couple in front of the wedding venue, pictures with the wedding decor in the background, or even using the wedding colors in the props or dress.

Many ways exist to make your wedding photos creative and unique, and it all comes down to finding the right balance between showcasing the couple’s personality, choosing unique poses and backdrops, and incorporating the wedding theme or location into the photos. 

bride and groom splashing through the edge of the ocean in their wedding clothes

Bonus: post-wedding photo opportunities.

After the wedding day is over, the dress is packed away, and the guests have gone home, what’s left to remember the amazing celebration? The photographs captured by the photographer. 

However, the wedding day is not always the only chance to capture beautiful memories. Here are three post-wedding photo opportunities to consider.

Day-after or honeymoon shoot.

This is a great way to get some unique and romantic photos in a location different from the wedding venue. If you are having a destination wedding and staying in the area for a few days after the wedding, arrange for a photographer to join you for a photo shoot. 

Trash-the-dress or rock-the-frock session.

An opportunity to have fun and do something different with your wedding dress, this style of post-wedding photography involves wearing the dress in a setting that could potentially destroy it, such as in the ocean, in the mud, or in an abandoned building. The idea is to create artful, edgy photos that capture your personality and style.

Anniversary or vow renewal shoots.

For couples who’ve been married for a while, having an anniversary or vow renewal shoot is a chance to refresh your wedding photos and celebrate your marriage. Plan a photo shoot at a location that holds significance to you both, such as the place where you got engaged, or a location that you both love. The shoot can be as formal or as casual as you like and can be a great opportunity to create new memories together.

Capturing your wedding.

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, and you want to make sure that every moment is captured to cherish for years to come. 

Prioritizing the moments you want to capture, communicating effectively with your photographer, and following these tips for a stress-free wedding photography experience can help make sure your memories are captured beautifully. Don’t be afraid to ask your photographer for their input and expertise–they want to help make your day as special as possible.

The comprehensive wedding photo checklist we’ve just shared will help you prioritize the moments you want to remember and ensure that your wedding photography experience is as stress-free as possible.

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