wedding photo shot list

The Wedding Photo Shot List

Every wedding photographer has a list of can’t miss shots for the big day, and they all vary slightly. Of course, everyone knows the kiss is the most important shot during the ceremony, along with the first dance and cake cutting at the reception. However, there are some other moments that are just as precious and necessary to have captured on your wedding day. Many couples don’t know that they want these shots. From the hundreds of weddings we have shot combined, we’ve put together a list of wedding photo shot list that you’ll definitely want to make sure get captured on that special day.

wedding photo shot list

Wedding photo shot list – a must have couple’s shot is essential

Before The Ceremony

Many photographers don’t shoot anything before the ceremony other than exterior shots of the building. We think there are lots of important moments worth capturing in the hours leading up to the ceremony. The first is the bride hanging out with her bridal party (and bonus points if there’s a mimosa/champagne toast somewhere in there!). These are your best friends, the people you’ve chosen to have by your side on the most important day of your life. It’s so important to capture the love and support that you’re bridal party is showing you by being there on your day (not to mention there’s always lots of laughs and goofing off to be had). Getting ready shots are also important. We love a good beauty shot as the bride’s getting her hair and makeup done. There’s a feeling of excited anticipation in the room, and it’s great getting to translate that to a frame. On the flip side, getting some playful shots of the groom hanging with his crew and getting ready are usually fun, to say the least (let’s just say this wouldn’t be the first groomsman to offer us a shot before the ceremony started).

bride getting ready

Wedding photo shot list should include the bride getting ready

The next important photo on your wedding photo shot list includes the bride putting her wedding dress on. This is an especially tender moment if a relative (i.e. mom, sister, best friend) hops in to help. Don’t miss the reaction of the bridesmaids when they see the beautiful bride in her dress for the first time. There’s a high chance of happy tears. While there’s some free time before the wedding, still-life shots of the bride’s details (dress, shoes, headpiece, jewelry, bouquet, etc) are a must for your wedding photo shot list. Grandma’s pearl earrings as “something borrowed” should be captured as a memento to treasure in your family forever. The same goes for the groom—get shots of the rings, his tie, cool socks, and anything else special to him on his wedding day. Those small details will help tell the big story of love and commitment. Lastly, your wedding photo shot list should include both the bride and groom with each of their parents. You’ll never see eyes more proud than a dad hugging his daughter after seeing her in her wedding dress for the first time, or a mom helping her son adjust his tie before walking down the aisle.

wedding rings

Pre-ceremony photos should include the ring and shoes on your wedding photo shot list.

Another popular trend is to do a first look shoot. Essentially, the groom waits at a planned spot before the ceremony. The bride will come tap on his shoulder or whisper something in his ear and then he’ll turn around and see her in her gorgeous dress while the photographers capture both his and her reactions to seeing each other. The bonus of seeing the bride before the wedding means that couple pictures and/or family pictures can be taken before the ceremony, depending on that day’s schedule. It’s helpful to have some of those out of the way because it makes the transition to the reception after the wedding a bit faster and smoother.


The bride hanging out with her bridal party

The bride getting her hair and makeup done

The bride putting on her dress

Still lifes of the bride’s dress, shoes, headpiece, jewelry, and bouquet

The bride pinning a boutonniere on her dad

The bride putting a corsage on her mom

The bridal party leaving for the ceremony

During the Wedding

Wedding shots can be a very busy time for the photographer because there are so many necessary shots in sometimes a short period of time. Beforehand, getting some interior landscape shots of the venue before the ceremony is a good idea for establishing shots. Once the ceremony begins, there’s the wedding party and family walking down the aisle, and finally, the bride making her big entrance. Of course, the groom waiting at the altar should also be on your wedding photo shot list, along with his reaction when the bride walks down the aisle. It’s great to capture a sweet moment of the couple during the vow exchange and then when the newlyweds exchange their iconic kiss at the end of the ceremony. Other must-have wedding photo shot list photos are the flower girl or ring bearer with the bride and groom, and a wide shot of the venue while the bride and groom and exchanging vows.

bride and groom getaway car

Post ceremony shots on your wedding photo shot list should include the bride and groom in the getaway car


Interior and exterior shots of the venue

The bride and her dad arriving

The wedding party arriving

The guests arriving

The groom and his best man at the altar

The altar

The bridal party walking down the aisle

The bride and her dad walking down the aisle

The bride’s mom walking down the aisle

The groom’s mom and dad walking down the aisle

The bride’s and groom’s grandparents walking down the aisle

The groom’s reaction to seeing the bride

The bride’s dad giving her away

The person doing the readings

The bride and groom listening to the officiant

The unity candle lighting

The bride and groom during the vow exchange

The bride’s and groom’s parents watching from their seats

The officiant performing the ceremony

The musicians playing

The newlyweds exchanging a kiss

The moment right after the kiss

The bride and groom walking up the aisle as newlyweds

The bride and groom greeting the crowd

The crowd performing the exit toss

The bride and groom leaving for the reception

Portraits and Group Shots

This section can go in a variety of places on the schedule, depending on the times for the ceremony and reception, but the most common options are right before the ceremony or right after. You’ll want posed shots of the bride with her bridesmaids, the groom with his groomsmen, a few poses of the entire wedding party together and then some fun laughing and joking shots of everyone. After the wedding, the immediate family usually sticks around for a minute to do group shots of each side of the family and then sometimes a big group shot. One of my favorite parts is getting to steal away the couple for a moment after all the posed group shots are done and find a nice place to take some portraits of just the two of them. There are an infinite of poses you can try to add to your wedding photo shot list, from the couple walking hand-in-hand to sharing a kiss to looking at each other and laughing. It just depends on the personality and mood of the couple. While I’m out shooting the two, I like to grab a couple frames of the bride and groom individually. It’s nice to get a good portrait of the groom, and a full-length shot of the bride in her wedding dress.

beautiful wedding bouquet

Be sure to add a picture of the bouquet to your wedding photo shot list

Portraits and Group Shots

The bride in her dress

The bride with her maid of honor

The bride with her bridesmaids and the flower girl

The groom with the best man

The groom with the groomsmen, ushers, and ring bearer

The bride with her family

The groom with his family

The bride and groom with the wedding party

The bride and groom with the bride’s family

The bride and groom with the groom’s family

The bride and groom with the bride’s grandparents

The bride and groom with the groom’s grandparents

The bride with the child attendants

The bride with her high school or college friends

The groom with his high school or college friends


The Reception

Now, you’ve made it to the reception, and it’s mostly fun shots from here on out. It’s good to go to the reception venue before the guests get there to shoot detailed shots of the reception space, the place setting, and the wedding cake. From then on out it’s capturing the rest of the wedding photo shot list moments and events that take place- like the bride and groom making their entrance while everyone cheers to the first dance and the toasts. The cake cutting is another important element to capture and usually leads to some funny shots and lots of laughter. Lastly, there’s dancing and fun on the dance floor, so some wide-angle shots looking down at all the dancing people make for great photos. Some couples choose to do a “getaway” where they leave in a car or have a sparkler send-off. Because it’s nighttime by the time these happen, they are usually the perfect shot to use at the end of the album.

first dance wedding photo

Any wedding photo shot list should include the first dance


The interior and exterior of the reception space

A close-up of a place setting

The escort card table

The band or DJ

The cocktail hour (including eating, drinking, and chatting)

The bride and groom making their entrance

The bride and groom greeting guests

The cake table

The bride and groom’s first dance

The bride dancing with her dad

The groom dancing with the bride’s mom

The bride dancing with the groom’s dad

The groom dancing with his mom

The guests dancing

The best man’s toast

The other toasts

The cake cutting and the bride and groom feeding each other

The bride throwing her bouquet

The groom removing the bride’s garter

The garter toss

The bride and groom leaving the reception

The bride and groom getting in the getaway car

A close up of the decorated getaway car

It is guaranteed to be a long, crazy day, but if you create a list ahead of time to give to the photographer, and you communicate to each other the shots that are your priority and the most important to you, it will definitely help things run smoothly. Talk over the wedding photo shot list with your parents, friends and family to make sure you’re covering everything and not forgetting anything important. But most importantly, relax and enjoy your day—the photographers are there to capture every second of the action, and you can be sure you’ll have hundreds (if not thousands!) of images from your wedding day, so don’t stress and just try to soak it all in!

If you’re getting married and want beautiful wedding photography like you see here, be sure to contact us today and we’d be honored to shoot your wedding!

clane gessel photography

Article by Stanley for Clane Gessel Photography


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Article by Clane Gessel Photography