Infographic displaying creating a wedding day shot list

A wedding day shot list? Do I really need one?

The resounding answer is YES.

And it all starts with asking the couple what they want, what is special to them, and then setting realistic expectations for their requests balanced against the timeline and the location where the wedding will be held. Here are 7 amazing and easy to follow tips on creating a wedding day shot-list.

What to Add, What to Skip For the Wedding Day Shot-list

We will start with what to consider adding to your wedding day shot-list. Then we’ll make suggestions for what to exclude from the shot-list.

1. Create a List of Must-Have Group Photos

Creating a Wedding Day Shot List
Image by ShootDotEdit customer @iqphotosf

Asking your couples for a list of important people that they “must” have photographed is the first thing for your wedding day shot list. Ask them to mention their relationship to the person indicated. Ask them to set groups that they want to definitely have photographed. Then you can keep this list with you the day of the wedding and you won’t miss anyone!

The upside to asking for this list ahead is that you can plan ahead for timing, and help the couple decide whether it makes sense to try to capture all the groups after the ceremony or whether they might consider a first look so that there will be pre-ceremony time to capture some of the groups. It also helps them think through who is important to them for the photos.

You can also ask the couple if they have any fun bridal party photos they must have! This is a great chance to brainstorm some unique ideas!

Bonus, having this list to refer to is also a stress reliever for you and the couple. It can get stressful on the final day when everyone wants to get photographed with the newlyweds. Having a clearly defined family photo shot list will keep everything moving efficiently.

2. Add Special Details to the Wedding Day Shot List

Asking for special details or ahead of time will help you prepare. That’s because you might not know the bride has sewn a piece of her late dad’s shirt on the inside of her bridal gown or that the groom has a custom suit with his name on a tag on the inside of the jacket. Knowing there is a family heirloom locket on the bouquet or the groom is wearing his late father’s watch are personal touches that make the wedding day story more robust. There are so many special things that the couple has planned and incorporated into the wedding day. And you don’t know about them unless you ask.


3. Add Absolute Must-Have Shots

bouquet photo with fall colors
Image by ShootDotEdit customer @apollofields

Maybe the bride has always admired that photo of her grandmother looking in a mirror on her wedding day. Maybe she has a Pinterest wedding day shot list that she HAS to have that includes a photo of every flower at the wedding – from bouquets to boutonnieres to table decorations. Asking her for these ideas is important because it shows the couple that you care enough to take their ideas into consideration. And it also allows you to have a realistic conversation about expectations when it comes to images. If the images they are requesting seem unrealistic (like a beach sunset photo when they are having an urban winter wedding), try suggesting that you will use their ideas to “inspire” you but that you don’t want to outright copy someone else’s image.

4. Add Unusual Moments to the Wedding Day Shot List

groom and groomsmen with camel
Image by ShootDotEdit customer @brandiallysephoto

Is the bridal party planning a flash mob introduction or is the couple planning a choreographed first dance? Is therd going to be a Camel at the wedding? Make sure you ask – or are aware of – these things as part of the wedding day shot list. This is essential for planning and preparing ahead of time to capture the moment.

5. Ask About Family Dynamics

When you ask the couple about the groups they want photographed, you can gently ask about any family dynamics or blended family concerns they might have. This question could open Pandora’s Box, but it’s important to know if the mother of the bride cannot be in the same room as the father of the bride and his new wife, and that you shouldn’t try to get them all together in a photo. This kind of question, when asked with concern, will also show the couple that you care enough to know these kinds of details.

6. Let them List the Obvious

wedding dress hanging alone against twinkle lights on a wall
Image by ShootDotEdit customer @taylorkempphotography

As a professional wedding photographer, you know your job! You know the must-have shots that are essential (the kiss, the bouquet toss, the dress hanging by itself), and you are typically in-the-know when it comes to the traditional shots you want to catch. But the couple may still want to list these “no brainer” photos for you. Don’t be offended! You have photographed many weddings, this may be their first, and they want to make sure everything is covered!

7. Try to Keep the Wedding Day Shot List Short

If the bride and groom (or their parents) start requesting a formal photo with every person attending the wedding, you’ll end up posing for hours. Gently remind the couple of the timeline and maybe suggest a photo booth if they want something that will capture everyone at the wedding!

Further Read: How To Streamline Your Wedding Photography Business Workflow

Learn More About Creating a Wedding Day Shot List

We hope these quick tips have helped with the basics of creating a Wedding Day Shot List.

Want more wedding day tips and tricks? Check out our post on TOP 13 WEDDING DAY WORKFLOW TIPS and CRAFTING THE RIGHT WEDDING WORKFLOW FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS.

Here at ShootDotEdit, we believe in inspiring photographers to achieve success faster, whether it’s in blog posts that help you with wedding day workflow tips, or making you faster (and getting you back to what’s important) by editing your wedding images for you. Want to know how we can help? Check out our pricing guide here!

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