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Wedding Photo List - Know What Shots You Need

Updated on August 17, 2013

A Wedding Photo List Is an Essential Tool for Any Photographer

Why have a wedding photo list? I'll tell you - if there is anything that will weigh on the mind of a photographer just starting out, it's the word "wedding." The pressure to get those special moments that will always be shown to others will grind you down if you're not careful. One way to relieve a bit of that stress is by having a solid wedding photography checklist chock full of the images the bride and groom expect you to get. Unless you're a professional photographer who has been shooting weddings for years, you need such a list and even if you are a pro, you're pushing your luck without one.

Photo by Sean Choe / flickr.


Photographer or wedding party?

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Keep In Mind Who Your Photos Need To Please

And make your wedding photo list accordingly.

All the wedding photography tips in the world won't save you if you don't keep this one in mind. Your main job as a photographer is to make the bride happy. The groom and the parents will always have opinions on the types of shots they want, but if the bride is not happy, no one else will be either. There is a reason that wedding photography prices are so high - we know people are willing to pay them. If we don't deliver, then there are often severe circumstances and if you're lucky they will only be the customer spreading the word about your failure.

The first thing you need to do as a professional wedding photographer is to give the happy couple a list of shots they may be interested in having for their photo album. Be sure to convey the importance of the list and that they need to add suggestions and notes on what exactly they want and who they want to be in the pictures. You then need to have a sit-down with them and iron out all of the details. I would put a B beside every shot the bride insists on you getting. Be sure to have them sign their names on the paper after the decisions are made.

Photo Ideas For Bride, Groom And Photographer - Make notes on what you like and what kind of pictures you want.

Wedding Photography Books Are A Great Way To Get Ideas - And continue to improve your craft.

I've known people to agree to shoot a wedding who had never done so before. Often times, these people don't even offer to learn anything about this specific niche and instead rely on the fact that they consider themselves a competent photographer. In my opinion, this is a mistake. Wedding photography isn't like anything else and you'll quickly realize this if you delve into it without doing any research. Buy at leas one book, you won't be sorry.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Beagan Jr. Kissing in Back of Car after Wedding Ceremony

16 x 12 in. Photographic Print by Ed Clark

Buy for $69.99


Wedding Photography List - Ideas 1-30

Everyone needs a wedding photo checklist - even the bride and groom.

1-Shots of the happy couple with and without family members, close friends, etc.

2-The bouquet toss.

3-Picture of guarder belt on leg of bride or her tossing it (or both).

4-Arrival of the bride and groom (inner, outer and getting out of limo shots).

5-And now you may kiss the bride.

6-The cutting of the cake and the bride and groom feeding each other.

7-Bride and groom getting in the customary "Just Married" vehicle.

8-First dance.

9-Groom and mother dance.

10-Bride and father dance.

11-Various guests or family members dancing (parents, grandparents,etc.).

12- Father giving away bride.

13-Bride walking down aisle (front and side views recommended).

14-Groom waiting at altar.

15-Small children having moments or dancing with bride or groom.

16- Groom with key people (grooms men, mother, father, grandparents, siblings, etc.).

17- Bride with key People (bridesmaids, mother, father, grandparents, siblings, etc.).

18-Wide shot of church (inside and outside / with and without guests).

19-Bride and groom toasts and speeches.

20-Maid of Honor and Best Man toasts and speeches.

21-Groom checking the time.

22-Key portraits (bride and groom, parents, bridesmaids, grandparents, etc.).

23-Throwing of the rice (or bird seed).

24-Key people eating / talking (bride and groom, family, friends, etc.).

25-Over the shoulder shot of bride looking at groom and vice versa.

26-Hand holding of bride and groom, parents, etc.

27-Groom putting wedding ring on bride's finger and vice versa.

28-Pictures of rings by themselves (laying on bible, etc.) or on the fingers (being shown off, etc.).

29-Bride and groom leaving church.

30-Guestbook signatures.

A Bride in an Oak Forest

16 x 12 in. Photo Print

By Raul Touzon

Buy for $39.99


Wedding Photo List - Ideas 31-60

Does your photographer know what kinds of pictures you want?

31-Shots of the dress and tuxedo draped on something.

32-Zipping up of the wedding dress.

33-Bride applying make-up or fixing hair (or a family member doing it for them).

34-Groom fixing hair.

35-Family member helping groom with tie.

36-Full shot of bride ready to go.

37-Flower girls.

38-Ring bearer.

39-Bride facing out of a window with soft light (northern most window).

40-Bride walking down stairs.

41-Bride standing in doorway.

42-Wide shot of actual ceremony.

43-Shot of parents' faces as bride and groom kiss.

44-Banquet hall full of guests.

45-Food shots (cake, drinks, buffet line, etc.).

46-Shots of centerpieces and flower decorations.

47-Bride and groom whispering to one another.

48-Back of "Just Married" car as it drives away.

49-Detail close-up shots (place settings, champagne bottles/corks, wine glasses, sheet music, etc.).

50-Picture of band or wedding singer.

51-Picture of priest, bride and groom exchanging vows.

52-After the ceremony photos of bride and groom. Find a private area where they can kiss or dance.

53-Large group photos are always an option, just make sure everyone's eyes are open. Have everyone close eyes and on the count of three have everyone open them.

54-Any unusual or special items? Get a shot of it.

55-Kids yawning or sleeping.

56-Trash the wedding dress or tuxedo. This could be done on another day.

57-Get any shot that is strange, bizarre or unexpected even if it is embarrassing to someone. The bride can always choose not to use the shots if she wants.

58-The bride's veil over face.

59-Bride looking into a mirror.

60-Groom retrieving garter belt.

Wedding Photo Ideas For Photgraphers - The bride and groom may also find this video useful.

Pros Use Their Fastest Lenses - To get great shots in low light situations.


Wedding Photography Tips

Having a wedding photo checklist is a start, but...

Although having a good wedding photo list at your side will help you remember to get those key shots you'll need to impress your client, there are 7 tips I'm going to share with you that will help you get through this experience unscathed.

Tip 1: Try to get all of the shots that the bride wanted even if you have to sacrifice shots that the groom wanted. Remember, your main focus should be on the bride.

Tip 2: If shooting in a church (low light) then raise your ISO to at least 800 and use your fastest lens (f/1.4, f/1.8, and f/2.8).

Tip 3: If using a flash, be sure to also use a flash diffuser to avoid harsh shadows and flat light associated with flash without diffusers.

Tip 4: Use a slower shutter speed with no flash to capture amazing images of people dancing.

Tip 5: Use a wide angle lens for such shots as the throwing of the bouquet and the garter.

Tip 6: If at all possible have two photographers shooting the wedding.

Tip 7: Get to the wedding at least an hour before you're supposed to. Learn the lay of the land, where the best natural light is and any other surprises that might await you.

Tip 8: Although all photographers may not agree with this one, I recommend wearing something that makes you easy to spot in a crowd. I like bright colors, but be sure to ask the bridal party if it's OK with them.

Tip 9: Getting a good night's sleep is something that should be high on your list, so find a way to do it.

Tip 10: Try to learn the names of all the major players; it's much easier to find someone when you know their names. And you thought a wedding photo list was all you needed.

Portrait Shot List Ideas For Weddings - Looking at other professional wedding photos is a great way to improve your own skill.


Amateur or professional wedding photographer?

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Getting On Your Knees Can Result In Some Great Shots - And sore knees - unless you have some knee pads, that is.

These things just aren't for wedding photographers. Any photographer will find them very useful. If you want them to be a certain color, just break out some paint.

Any Experiences With Wedding Photographers You Want To Share? - Photographers are welcome to chime in as well.

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    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile image

      Dawn Romine 

      5 years ago from Nebraska

      I'm a serious amateur photographer and a friend asked me to do their daughters wedding.I tried to get get of it but they don't want a professional just some good photos.stressed just a little

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great tips, great inspiration for a Norfolk wedding photographer like me

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens. If you do not know what you want, you will be disappointed with the end results. Like we did.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      These tips are amazing, thank you for sharing! But I still think if you want to make your wedding day perfect that you need a pro:

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I always ask my clients to fill out a formal shot list. I also let them know that each will take on average 2 minutes to pose and shoot. The bigger the group the more time it takes. Yes, we can execute them faster but quality takes time. So... if you have 50 shots in the list, that's 1 hour and 40 minutes. Still want to make the reception on time? Formals are very important to my clients, so I want to ensure we capture those photos they really want while staying on schedule for what is a very busy day. One final thing: trust your photographer also to capture the obvious shots (vows, kiss, etc.) at those traditional moments, and also allow him/her the freedom to capture the unscripted special moments that will stay with you for a lifetime by not encumbering him/her with an overly long shot list. Bottom line: prioritize your list to the absolute must-haves; not everything can be of first priority and still get the attention it deserves.

    • addiej profile image

      Addie Johnson 

      7 years ago

      Fantastic lens. I really want to someday be a wedding photographer. Thanks for these AWESOME tips!! :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      what a great list! I specialize in social media headshots and business photography, so I don't do weddings- but THIS lens is a great share for my photographer friends who do. Thank you!

    • pennysparkle profile image


      7 years ago

      Great article ! Now, Pinterest is a really good tool for making wedding inspiration boards I think :)

      Photographe Toulouse

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great shot lists! Thanks!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      These shot lists are fantastic. They are a great way to keep up with all the shots you need as it can become pretty hectic on wedding day. Fab Share.

      Wedding Photographer Nottingham

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I would put having a wedding shot list as one of the most important things I had with me on my first wedding shoot. It really saved my bacon as I found myself referring to it often.

      Just make sure the stuff on your list is what the bride and groom wants. Follow the advice and sit down with them well in advance to come up with some wedding photo ideas that they want to remember forever.

      While I may not be one of the biggest and best wedding photographers (yet), I have photographed over 50 weddings. This is a solid list.

    • prophotokent profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens mate I use a countersigned list for my Ramsgate contemporary wedding photography/b> as well

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I like the videos, nice layout

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I wish my cousin's wedding photographer had made a checklist like this when he shot her wedding. He missed a lot of shots that she expected to be in there, the big one being the throwing of the bouquet. How do you miss that shot?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I completely agree about getting a lens with a fast f-stop. I broke down and got one after I demanded to see the church where the wedding was taking place. My fastest lens was a 3.5 and I realized I was in trouble. Luckily I had about 3 weeks before the wedding and was able to get a fast lens (1.5). I had to pay for it, but the pictures were great and I kept my reputation. The wedding photo business is very competitive; one unhappy client could cost you a lot of business.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice list, I'll definitely be giving this link to my nephew, who's going to be taking our wedding photos.


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