Weddings can be extremely stressful, but they are also one of the most important days! If you want everything to run smoothly, especially with photography, it’s good to have a comprehensive checklist of everything you want to be captured on your big day.

Read on to find some ideas for your list and tips for photographing your big day.

Looking for a general guide to wedding photography? Look no further than our article on wedding photography.

If you are new to the photography game and want to dive into the world of photography knowledge, check out our article on photography 101 to get started.

How to use a wedding photo list?

A wedding photo list is a comprehensive checklist for every possible moment you may want to savor before your wedding day. Look at it as more of a guide than anything else – you don’t have to capture all of these moments, but it’s suitable for ideas or to send over to your photographer to make sure you are on the same page.

Wedding Photography checklist

1. Before the big day

The engagement

This is an excellent opportunity to get to know your photographer and their style. So play around and get comfortable with the camera at this stage. (Engagement shots make lovely photos for wedding invitations too!)

The invitation suite

The invitation suite is all of the necessary information sent along with the invitation. It may include details of accommodation and location and an RSVP letter. Make sure you get some shots of these before they are sent off!

wedding rings

2. Wedding day: Before the ceremony

The getting ready moments

Here are some ideas for the day before the ceremony to make sure nothing is missed:

  • The wedding invitation.
  • The wedding rings!
  • Bride and Bridesmaids getting their hair and makeup done.
  • A still of the wedding dress, jewelry, etc.
  • Flower bouquets, corsages.
  • Bride putting on her dress and veil. (And some close-ups of dress details!)
  • Pictures of the bridal party and the groomsmen.
  • Family shots (You can get a ton of these!)
  • Bridal party leaving the house and the journey to the ceremony.
  • The groomsmen getting ready.
  • You can also get the Bride or the Groom to have a moment alone.

The ceremony site

Nothing is more magical than an empty wedding ceremony site before the big day starts. Get some tranquil shots of empty seats or the dining hall before people start sitting down!

wedding ceremony

3. Wedding day: During the ceremony

Some churches don’t allow photographs during the wedding ceremony, particularly within the mass, so check the venue’s rules beforehand.

The first look

Depending on the couple, some will spend some time with each other beforehand to quell nerves, and others will be more traditional and see each other first at the altar. Make sure you capture either of these moments.

It may be nice to capture the groom’s reaction to the first look and the audience’s.

The walk down the aisle

This is a classic scene that you’ll want to capture. As well as getting the first look, make sure that you are continually snapping throughout the walk down the aisle. You’ll want to get the handoff of the bride as well before the ceremony officially begins.

The candid moments

There are plenty of candid moments that you can capture during the ceremony, so always have your camera ready. Here are a few ideas:

  • During the exchange of vows.
  • The lighting of a unity candle (if doing).
  • The ring bearer and the exchanging of rings.
  • Participants in the ceremony include musicians, readers, the officiant, etc.
  • The first kiss as a married couple.
  • Signing the register.

The exit

Here are some ideas of what you might want to capture immediately after the ceremony:

  • The couple’s journey back down the aisle.
  • A shot of the newlyweds.
  • Confetti throwing/ throwing of the bouquet.
  • The couple greeting guests outside of the venue.

4. Wedding day: after the ceremony (during cocktail hours)

Some couples will choose to have their wedding shots before or after the ceremony, so make sure you set aside time for either possibility. These shots will take a while, but it can be much easier if all of the people you want in these shots are already rounded up. It’s a good idea to enlist a close friend to round people up when the time comes.

Couple shots

You can be creative or traditional with these shots- it’s up to you.

You might like to get shots of the couple together and on their own.

wedding photo after

Bridal Party

You might like to capture:

  • The couple with the groomsmen and/or the bridal party.
  • The couple with the entire wedding party.
  • The bride with bridesmaids or the maid of honor.
  • The groom with groomsmen or the best man.

Family and group portraits

Here are some shots you might like to take:

  • Couple with each set of their parents.
  • Couple with both sets of parents.
  • Couple with family members (you can get ones with close family members and then with the entire family).
  • Couple with their friends (you can do specific groups of friends too, such as friends from work, college, etc.)

Littlest ones

It may be a cute idea to get some shots of the couple with the littlest ones in the ceremony. If they have a child or young siblings, include them in some photos!

5. Wedding day: Reception

If someone was kind enough to make something for the reception, like food or decoration, do capture this. They might like to see their hard work on the big day! You can also capture:

  • The reception room before it fills up.
  • Details of the room, such as decor, place settings, the head table, etc.
  • Make sure you get some shots of the wedding cake!
  • Guests arriving at the reception and the couple arriving.
  • Toasts and speeches.
  • Cutting the cake and the first dance.
  • The couple dancing with family members.
  • The couple greeting guests.
  • The guests at the reception, dancing, chatting, etc.
  • Musicians and DJs.
wedding dance

3 quick tips for nailing your wedding shots

  1. Scout your photo locations for lighting and gear setup limitations (This will make everything much smoother the day of.) (consider if you want to answer these more, you don’t have to if you think it makes sense without)

2. Check and double-check your equipment before the big day!

3. Ensure you have a contract, insurance, and other required legal documents (such as photography permissions) in order.

Find the best wedding photographer

If all you need know is a photographer to capture all those shots, look no further. We've gathered a list with 15 of the absolute best wedding photographers to hire right now.

Wedding Photo Checklist FAQ

What to put on your wedding photography shot list?

You can find the comprehensive photography list above. But you’ll want to capture engagement photos, getting ready photos, pictures of the ceremony site, and as many photos as you can of the ceremony and the reception afterward!

How to create a wedding photography shot list?

You can find plenty of pre-made lists online but if you’d like to make one yourself, just consider what you’d like to remember from your wedding day and fill your list from there.

What is a shot list for a wedding?

Your wedding shot list is just a list of possible opportunities for your photographer to capture the day. From pictures of your rings to empty venues, these lists will contain pretty much everything you’ll want to consider.

How many photos is standard for a wedding?

Thousands of photos can be taken on your wedding day, especially if it lasts for a while. From your photographer, you should expect around 400 finished photos from your big day.

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