The Ultimate Wedding Photography Shot List For You

Many wedding photographers would agree that creating a wedding photography shot list is one of the most crucial pre-wedding day prep that they do. However, creating the ultimate shot list will differ from wedding to wedding. While every wedding has some common activities and elements that can’t be missed, some cultural or unique traditions may require you to customize your shot list. Even though our template can help you create a shot list for your future weddings, don’t forget to consult your couple while working on it. Creating a shot list begins with asking the couple what they want, getting familiar with their vision, and then getting back to them with a carefully curated shot list that seamlessly blends their ideas with yours and also includes all the essential photographs.

Why You Should Have a Wedding Photography Shot List

Infographic stating use this wedding photography shot list as a foundation for planning wedding day photos

Before we share our wedding photography shot list with you, allow us to help you understand how this or any other sample shot list benefits you. A well-crafted wedding photos shot list will help you stay calm and organized on the wedding day. You won’t have to stress about what you need to do next or whether you have taken all photographs that you had discussed with your couple. Also, if you plan to work with a second shooter, the wedding photography shot list will allow you to divide the shots between the two of you. This way, you will be able to give more attention to detail and quality.

The Ultimate Shot List for Wedding Photographers

1. Getting Ready Images

Black and white photo of a bride holding the skirt of her bridal dress
Image Credit @erinm_photography
  1. A photo of the bride in her comfy clothes or robe before she starts to get ready
  2. The bride sipping her drink with her bridesmaids
  3. The bride having fun or jumping on the bed with her bridesmaids
  4. A photo of the bride’s dress on a hanger, over a chair, or on a bedpost
  5. Bridesmaids helping the bride with her hair and makeup
  6. The bride getting ready with her bridesmaids
  7. The bridesmaids applying makeup
  8. The bride’s mom helping her fix the veil or zipping her up
  9. A full-length photo of the bride in her gown where she checks herself out in the mirror
  10. Detail photos of the bride’s accessories
  11. Detail photos of the bride’s footwear, garter, gloves, veil, train, and if any, her custom-made mask
  12. Detail shots of any stationary such as the invitation card
  13. Photos of the bride’s rings
  14. Photos of her hairdo and hair accessories
  15. A photo of the bride’s bouquet
  16. An emotional bride with her parents
  17. A shot of the bride with her sibling/s

Related Read: How To Use Off Camera Flash To Create Dramatic Getting Ready Images

Groom getting ready wearing a blue blazer
Image Credit @narvoldphotography
  1. Bride with any other special people in the getting ready room
  2. Bride hugging the maid of honor
  3. A fun shot of the bride with her bridesmaids
  4. A formal picture of the bride with her bridesmaids
  5. Bride’s grandparent/s kissing her
  6. The groom getting ready with his groomsmen
  7. A classic image of the groom tying his tie or someone helping him do it
  8. Groom with his parent/s
  9. Groom with his sibling/s
  10. The groom with his grandparent/s
  11. The groom with his best man
  12. A fun photo of the groom with his groomsmen
  13. Groomsmen getting ready and putting on their bowties or boutonnieres
  14. A photo of the groom’s boutonniere
  15. Pictures of the groom’s shoes, watch, ring, any other accessory, including the mask
  16. Photos of the bride and the groom (in their separate suites) reading the letters they exchange before going in for the ceremony

2. Before the First Look or Pre-Ceremony Shots

  1. The groom’s dad whispering some last-minute advice in his ears
  2. Groom all dressed up and ready to leave for the ceremony or the first look
  3. Bride all dolled up and ready to leave for the ceremony or the first look
  4. The bride making her way to the ceremony or the first look
  5. The groom making his way to the ceremony or the first look
  6. Photographs of the bride and the groom separately getting into their limos or cars to reach the first look or ceremony venue (if it’s different from the getting ready venue)

3. The First Look

First look photo of a bride standing near a wall with groom standing behind her
Image Credit @flavio_d_photography
  1. The groom with his back towards the bride
  2. The bride approaching the groom
  3. The bride tapping on the groom’s shoulder
  4. The groom’s reaction
  5. Bride and groom’s reaction together
  6. Teary eyes
  7. Big smiles
  8. Holding hands
  9. The embrace
  10. Posed couple portraits

If your couple is not doing a first look, you can simply take some couple portraits or staged first look photos when you can find a moment to sneak them away from the guests later during the day. Some cultures don’t have a first look concept, so you can just spend more time taking couple portraits at those weddings.

4. During the Ceremony

  1. Photos of the ceremony site decor (take them before the guests arrive)
  2. Guests going inside the church or any other ceremony site
  3. Ushers helping the guests find their seats
  4. Ushers helping moms reach their seats
  5. Bridesmaids and groomsmen performing their duties
  6. Photographs of the flower girl and the ring bearer in action
  7. Photos of the wedding party walking down the aisle
  8. Grandparents or parents walking down the aisle
  9. Shots of the wedding party waiting for the bride at the altar
  10. The groom walking to the altar
  11. The groom waiting for his bride at the altar
  12. A close-up shot of the bride at the door (right before she makes her entrance)
  13. The bride walking to the altar
  14. The couple at the altar
  15. A wide shot of the altar or stage with the couple, priest, and wedding party
  16. A wide shot of the guests from the couple’s point of view
  17. A close-up of the bride and the groom’s face when they exchange vows
  18. Close-up of the couple’s hands when they exchange rings
  19. The first kiss
  20. The couple walking down the aisle with guests smiling at them
  21. The newlywed couple outside the venue
  22. The ‘just married’ photos
  23. Hugs from friends and family
  24. Couple leaving the venue
  25. The couple in their car

Related Read: Wedding Ceremony Photography Guide

5. The Cocktail Hour Shots

Infographic stating don't forget cocktail hour candids
  1. Posed and romantic couple portraits
  2. Goofy and crazy couple portraits
  3. Bride with her parents
  4. Bride with her grandparents
  5. Bride with her siblings
  6. The bride with her family
  7. The groom with his parents
  8. Groom with his grandparents
  9. The groom with his siblings
  10. The groom with his family
  11. Bride with the groom’s family
  12. The groom with the bride’s family
  13. The couple with both sets of parents
  14. The couple with both sides of the family
  15. The couple with other family members
  16. Bride with her bridesmaids
  17. Groom with the bridesmaids
  18. Groom with the groomsmen
  19. Bride with the groomsmen
  20. The entire wedding party, including the flower girl, ushers, and the ring bearer
  21. The couple with their school/college friends
  22. The couple with their colleagues
  23. The bride with her sorority sisters
  24. The couple with their pets
  25. The couple meeting their guests
  26. The couple sipping their drinks

6. The Reception Photos

A bride and groom facing each other as the bride holds the bouquet in her hands in front of the reception area
Image Credit @apollofields
  1. Begin with images from outside the reception venue
  2. Photos of all reception details such as flowers, decor, seats, center table, guest book, favors table, centerpieces, catering arrangements (dining area, cutlery, napkins, etc.)
  3. Guests coming in
  4. Wedding party entry
  5. A dramatic shot of the bride and the groom arriving at the reception venue
  6. The grand entrance
  7. Receiving line photos
  8. The newlyweds at the head table
  9. The parents and guests tables
  10. Moments during various speeches
  11. Raising toasts
  12. The bride and the groom reacting to the speeches
  13. Shots of bride and groom’s parents
  14. The couple chatting with the guests
  15. The couple’s first dance

Related Read: The 6 Most Important Angles To Capture During The First Dance

16. Father-daughter dance
17. Mother-son dance
18. The cake table.
19. The wedding cake photos
20. Cake-cutting shots
21. The couple feeding cake to each other
22. The dessert table
23. Bride tossing the bouquet
24. Bridesmaids trying to catch the bouquet
25. Tossing the garter
26. Catching of the garter
27. Parents dancing together
28. Grandparents dance
29. Wedding party dance
30. Kids playing or dancing at the reception
31. The DJ or live band performing
32. Guests dancing (any crazy dance moves, smiling, laughing faces)
33. A dancing bride with her bridesmaids
34. A dancing groom with his groomsmen
35. Romantic couple portraits outside the reception hall (request the couple to sneak out for a while to capture beautiful nighttime photos)

7. The Grand Exit Shots

A groom doing thumbs up from the window of the car
Image Credit @brandiallysephoto
  1. The wedding party and other guests lined up on both sides to wave goodbye to the bride and the groom
  2. A sparkler or confetti exit (or any other creative exit your couple planned for)
  3. The couple leaving the reception site and waving from their car
  4. Photos of the couple’s car departing

Few Tips to Follow Before You Begin Shooting

Infographic stating use these tips to perfectly plan and document moments

Now that you have an idea about all the possible scenes that you can capture at a wedding and the reception, here are some tips on how to perfectly document those moments.

  1. Scout the location for a better understanding of lighting and posing opportunities at a venue.
  2. Triple-check your gear and other essentials you might need at the wedding.
  3. Check for any photography restrictions at the venue.
  4. Be prepared with any medical documents such as COVID test results that venues might require.
  5. Go over everything you discussed with your couple about the shot list.
  6. Ensure your contract, insurance, or any other legal documents such as photography permissions for a private location are in place.
  7. In the case of a destination wedding, get familiar with the chosen destination’s photography and general laws.

Further Read: 30 Must-Have Wedding Ceremony Shots To Add To Your Shot List

Wedding photography is your passion, and helping you is ours! We hope our wedding photography shot list will help you improve your wedding day workflow and enable you to photograph your wedding without the constant stress of planning your next move. Besides helping you improve your wedding day workflow, we also help lessen your post-production workload by offering photo editing services that match your style. To learn more about our services, check out our pricing plans.

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