Infographic displaying - A Wedding Photographer’s Checklist for Reception Photos

Being prepared with a checklist for reception photos is just one of the ways you can streamline your wedding day workflow! Here are some great ideas you can either print out and take with you or add to your own existing checklist of reception photos to take on the wedding day! If you want more great checklists, check out 20 Wedding Photo Ideas to Try with Your Couples n and 35 Must-Have Bridal Party Photos.

A Wedding Photographer’s Checklist for Reception Photos

You’ve probably scouted the location and venue ahead of time and also talked at length with your couple about photo ideas, but just in case you want more to add to the list you already have, here are some fabulous ideas to add to your checklist for reception photos.

1. Outside Looking In

A Wedding Photographer’s Checklist for Reception Photos

It’s always nice to tell the story of the wedding day from start to finish, and that includes capturing some of the venue where the reception will be held. Take this photo during the daylight and also at night, once the lights go on inside. For the night time photo, use a slower shutter speed to really capture that warm glow emanating from the windows. Even consider taking your couple outside and take photos of them in front of the venue. This will help them remember the place and time.

2. Grand Entrance

It’s always nice to capture the dramatic grand entrance moment when the couple is announced for the first time as husband and wife into the reception. Look for guests reactions, from applause to happy tears, and definitely be sure to capture the faces of the couple as they look on the room full of their guests!

3. Reception Details


Alllll the details are up for grabs when it comes to taking reception photos. This is your chance to capture everything! Try to do as many as you can before the guests are seated so that you can capture the details while they are fresh. Remember that every detail matters to the couple, so from place cards to the guest book to centerpieces – they are all noteworthy. Ask the couple ahead if there will be anything special you should focus on, but if not, here’s a quick list: table settings, favors, champagne glasses, cake, cake topper, dessert table, place settings, place cards, and gift table. And don’t forget the decorations if there are any. The wedding goes by in a blur for many couples and they will absolutely love being able to see their reception photos come to life later when you share them. Who knows – you might even capture something they may have missed seeing since they were so busy!

4. Receiving Line Moments

Receiving lines aren’t as popular as they used to be, but if they happen this is always a great opportunity to photograph the couple with the guests. Candid moments are easiest here but you can also consider asking the couple to pose and smile with each guest as they greet them. Just be sure there is time planned for this as it can extend the receiving line longer!

5. Bride and Groom at the Head Table

couple sitting at wedding reception

If the couple is seated at a head table ort sweetheart table, chances are it’s decorated with special touches. Be sure to capture them seated, before they start eating!, and any details that are at the table.

6. The Parents of the Bride and Groom

You probably have already captured formal poses of the family members during the family formal photos but the reception is a great time for candid photos of family. Often they have relaxed and are simply enjoying the evening, and so you can capture genuine moments, lots of laughter, and maybe even some unexpected dance floor moves!

7. Parents/ Guests Table

Sometimes couples decorate family and guest tables with special touches. If so, these are must-capture detail shots to add to your reception photos checklist.

8. Close-up of Friends and Family Making Toasts

wedding day toasts

This is another great opportunity for candid reception photos. Toasts usually result in genuine laughter from the couple and the guests, and sometimes even happy tears. Set up your lights or know the best lighting and capture these moments as they naturally unfold. Consider using a fast shutter speed to be sure the action isn’t blurry.

9. Bride and Groom Toasting and Sipping Champagne

You can stage this shot or let it happen naturally. Whatever you decide, capturing the couple clinking glasses, raising their glasses in toast, and sipping from their glasses are all great ideas to add to your reception photos checklist.

10. Guests Going Wild on the Dance Floor

Just like the wedding party dancing, there comes a point in the reception dancing where no one remembers there is a photographer present and everyone starts really letting loose. This is the best time to really capture the genuine dancing and fun.

11. Bride and Father Dancing

The father-daughter dance is usually an emotional one. Look for sweet smiles, maybe some tears, and adoring looks between father and daughter.

12. Groom and Mother Dancing

Just like the father and daughter, the mother and son bond is special. You can often see pride and love shining from a mother face as she dance with her son. This is a must have moment to add to your reception photos checklist.

13. Grandparents and Parents Dancing

It’s always a nice touch to watch for the family of the couple on the dance floor. Grandparents and parents of the couple dancing often share beautiful moments worth capturing.

14. First Dance

photo of couple dancing on dance floor from above

This is probably one of the most important moments at the reception and can be magical. Capture the action as it happens, change up your angle and position on the dance floor, and be sure to ask the couple ahead if they plan to do a slow or fast dance so you can be ready with the right camera settings.

15. Children Playing or Dancing

Children dancing on the dance floor are the cutest! Don’t miss out on photographing them doing what they do best – laughing, crying, jumping or being funny. Little cherubs or mischief mongers, they definitely deserve a moment to shine!

16. Musicians and/or DJ

It’s always a nice add on to capture the musicians playing or the DJ at work. These are also images you can share with them later.

17. Wedding Party Dancing

Aerial shot of wedding guests dancing

Wedding parties can get wild on the dance floor and these make for some really fun moments. Be sure to capture the dancing, laughter and love you see here.

18. Bride Laughing With Bridesmaids

Girls tend to gather together on the dance floor, especially when “their song” comes on. Watch and wait for this to happen. Usually it results in a lot of laughter, and even some hugging. Be ready with your camera at all times for reception photos like this to unfold.

19. Bride and Groom Chatting With the Guests

Another great idea to add to your reception photos checklist is asking each couple or group to pose with the bride and groom as they walk around to chat. These are also something the bride and groom can gift to their guests later.

20. Cake Table

naked wedding cake with succulents

This is one of those “don’t forget” detail shots for reception photos. The couple has likely spent some time narrowing down their favorite cake flavor or design and are super excited to see what it looks (and tastes) like! Try to capture the cake in natural light before the reception starts and then take a second one using ambient light or off camera light for a different look. Also look out for a groom’s cake and special cake toppers.

21. Bride and Groom Cutting the Cake

This cake cutting tradition may or may not occur, but even if the couple doesn’t want to do it “officially” try to get them to pose with the cake.

22. Bride and Groom Feeding Cake to Each Other

This is always a picture-perfect moment. Especially if cake in the face occurs! Be ready for anything and consider using a fast shutter speed because surprises definitely happen here.

23. Dessert Table

A Wedding Photographer’s Checklist for Reception Photos

Many couples are opting for additional dessert tables filled with colorful, themed, and coordinated desserts that are as much a treat to look at as they are to eat. Try to get to this table and take photos before the guests start helping themselves!

24. Bouquet Toss

Not every couple is doing a bouquet toss at their wedding, but for those that do, it’s a fantastic reception photo action shot. Look for diving bridesmaids, disappointed flower girls who missed the bouquet, and maybe even a tug of war between the two who got the closest to the catch.

25. Tossing and Catching of the Garter

This is another fun action photo to add to your reception photos checklist. Look out for great expressions and some good natured fighting.

26. Bride and Groom Leaving

Couple leaving their reception with guests holding wedding sparklers

The final exit of the couple can be filled with fanfare or something simple. Sometimes there are fireworks and sparklers, and sometimes it’s as simple as them getting into a car and driving away. Check with your couple ahead to know what (and when) the exit will occur and be ready.

If you still don’t have enough inspiration for reception photos, check out this additional post from the Brides Blog!

When the wedding day is over, and you’re catching your breath after busy season, take a look at our post on 100 Instagram Captions for Wedding Photographers so you can build your social media presence with all the great photographs you’ve taken. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the editing, let ShootDotEdit help! We have a plan for every budget!

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