With all the planning and organizing before your wedding day, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget about those must-have wedding photos.
Every wedding party is packed with moments you never forget, and it’d be a shame to forget documenting them.
To make sure you end up with a complete set of photos that highlight the whole day, I’ve made a wedding photos checklist of must-have wedding photos.
Professional wedding photographers always have a shot list of wedding photos for the ceremony and reception but for your own ease of mind, it’s better to have your own list, and that’s what I’ll help with!
Table of Contents
Pre-Ceremony Wedding Photo Checklist
Your photographer should arrive as early as possible on the big day to cover the wedding day preparations.
It’ll be your best opportunity to get familiar with them before everyone gets busy with the ceremony.
Here’s a checklist of must-have pre-ceremony wedding photos:
1. The Details
- Wedding Invitation
- Wedding program
- Special gifts, letters, and signs
- Bridal accessories (necklace, shoes, earrings, hairpiece, bracelets, and perfume)
- Groom’s accessories (Tie bar, cuff links, shoes, wedding watches, jewelry, and perfume)
- Wedding bands
- Corsages, boutonnieres, and flower bouquets
2. Getting Ready (At the Bridal Suite)
The bridal suite is usually the busiest area before the wedding ceremony.
So, you want your photographer to capture all the excitement as you prepare for the big moment.
Here are some must-have shots in the bridal suite:
- The wedding dress: A basic shot of the bridal gown (hung in the wardrobe, draped over a chair, and spread on the bed)
- Bridal accessories: Close-up shots of bridal accessories such as garter, shoes, veil, and bouquet.
- Getting ready: Candid shots of the bride and her bridesmaids getting ready and putting their makeup on
- Helping the bride: Some photos of the maid of honor and bridesmaids helping the bride with her hair and makeup
- The bride with her parents: Multiple shots of the bride with her parents. (mother helping the pride putting her veil on, or the father looking lovingly at his grown-up daughter)
- Bride with the flower girls: Multiple photos of the bride and the flower girls while they’re getting ready and helping each other
- Portrait of the bride: A full body shot of the bride after she’s ready. (Bride looking through the window or looking at herself in the mirror)
- Family shots: Photos of the bride with her close family members while getting ready
3. The Groom Getting Ready
The bride is the central attraction of any wedding, but let’s not forget about photos of the groom!
It’s generally better to have a separate photographer documenting everything happening at the groom’s suite. Otherwise, you might miss out on some valuable moments.
Here are some must-have photos of the groom getting ready:
- Groom’s attire: Shots of the groom’s tie, shoes, perfume, cuff links, and other accessories laid out before he gets dressed
- Getting ready: Multiple shots of the groom getting ready with the groomsmen, both candid and posed
- Groom with his parents: Photos of the groom with his parents helping him get ready (his mom fixing his tie or his dad looking at him proudly)
- Groomsmen getting ready: Shots of the groomsmen putting on bowties and boutonnieres
- Groom portrait: A full-body shot of the groom looking handsome in his suit
4. The First Look
First-look photos have become an insanely popular part of wedding days.
I personally love them because they capture some of the most intimate and emotional moments of the day.
Here are a few must-have first-look photos for your wedding day:
- The approach: Capture the moments when the bride walks up to her groom. E.g., Shots over the groom’s shoulder to showcase the bride’s reactions and vice versa.
- The reveal: Pictures of the special moment as the groom turns around to see the bride for the first time.
- The embrace: As the couple sees each other, they will likely hug or kiss. Make sure to capture those genuine moments
- Family members: Shots of the reactions of family members, especially the bride and groom’s parents and grandparents.
- Couple portraits: After the first look, take some portraits of the bride and groom while their reactions are still fresh and the excitement is at its peak.
5. The Trip to the Ceremony
The journey to the ceremony is always full of excitement and anticipation and a few jitters. It’s an opportunity to get some unique, candid shots.
Here are a few wedding photography tips for brides to ensure you capture the right moments:
- Leaving the getting-ready location: Capture some photos of the bride and groom saying goodbye to their families at the bridal party location.
- The vehicle: Candid shots of the bride and groom getting into their wedding vehicle.
- Inside the car: Capture photos of the bride and groom inside their wedding vehicle. This could be photos of them holding hands, waving goodbye to their family members, or chatting.
- Family photos: Shots of the bride and groom’s parents waving goodbye as the couple takes off.
Must-Have Wedding Photos List
Before the couples even walk down the aisle, there are some must-have photos for the ceremony location.
1. Ceremony Details
- Exterior and interior location shots
- The aisle: Before the attendants arrive, capture some photos of the aisle as it’s the main event of the venues.
- Wedding arch: Take a few pictures of the wedding arch before the couple arrives.
- Aisle Flowers
- Ceremony signs and programs
- Row of seats
- A landscape shot of the entire wedding venue
- Flower girl basket
2. The Ceremony
- Guests’ arrival: Capture some pictures of the guests arriving and the wedding venue coming alive
- Usher’s role: Highlight the usher’s role and capture some photos of him escorting the guests to their seats.
- Groom’s anticipation: Candid photos of the groom as he’s eagerly waiting for his bride’s arrival
- Bride preparation: Candid shots of the bride as she’s getting ready for her entrance
- The processional: Shots of the entourage members as they walk down the aisle during the processional
- Bride’s arrival: As the bride gracefully walks down the aisle, it’s a chance to take plenty of posed and candid shots of her.
- The meeting: There are lots of pictures of the bride meeting her groom at the end of the aisle.
- Ceremony snapshots: Multiple photos of the couple at the altar to document their journey throughout the ceremony
- Wide shots: Wide-angle shots from the couples’ POV showcasing the stacked wedding venue.
- Ceremonial traditions: Document the essential wedding traditions such as breaking the glass, unity candle, and jumping the broom.
- Vow exchange: Multiple shots of the couple as they exchange vows and look tenderly at each other.
- Ring exchange: Detailed shots of the couple as they exchange rings and close-ups of the wedding rings on their fingers.
- The confirmation: Capture the pivotal “I do” moment to translate those intimate feelings into timeless images.
- First kiss: Clear shots of the newly married couple as they share their first kiss. Ask the officiant to step aside for clearer shots.
- Guest reactions: As the couple share their first kiss, make sure to have a second photographer capture the guests’ priceless reactions.
Must-Have Wedding Photo Poses
After the wedding ceremony is over, you can hold a cocktail hour for the guests and take this time to take more photos.
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Here are some creative ideas for unique wedding photographs:
1. Holding Hands
This authentic wedding pose might look cheesy at first, but trust me, it’s a timeless photo that showcases unity and love.
2. The Classic Kiss
Kissing shots are a must-have in every wedding, so make sure to take plenty of photos of the newly married couple kissing.
Close-up and full-body shots are both excellent options to capture those intimate moments.
3. Back Hug
A back hug with the groom wrapping his arms around his bride is an intimate and sweet pose.
4. The Heel Pop
The heel pop is an excellent pose for the bride to showcase her beautiful wedding shoes.
5. The Piggyback
To add a touch of fun and playfulness to the wedding album, take a photo of the bride jumping on her partner’s back.
6. The Dip
The dip is another timeless dance-inspired pose that has always been popular at weddings. It’s a romantic full-body shot that works every time.
7. The Lift
A pose where the groom lifts the bride makes for a perfect dynamic and romantic photo for weddings.
8. Whispering in the Ear
Have one partner whisper something into the other’s ear for a funny, candid shot. This type of photo adds more fun and light-heartedness to the wedding photo album.
9. Walking Together
To create a sense of movement, capture the couple as they walk away together while holding hands. This shot symbolizes the journey of the couple together.
10. Follow Me
One of the most endearing wedding poses is when the bride leads her groom to their next destination. This is my personal favorite!
To capture this moment, it’s ideal to take it from the groom’s perspective. If possible, include the setting sun in the background for a cinematic shot.
11. The Modern Portrait
Wedding portraits have been an essential part of weddings throughout the years.
The regular portrait usually features the couple standing close together, facing the camera.
However, the modern pose is to leave a slight gap between the couple to showcase their different personalities.
If the bride is wearing a veil, asking a wedding member to throw it up in the air and quickly move out of the frame can be a captivating touch.
12. The Old Hollywood
This romantic and timeless shot is an excellent chance for the bride and groom to showcase their profiles.
The groom stands facing the bride while the bride turns her back to the camera, highlighting the intricate details of the back of her dress.
13. Lying in the Grass
For a fun and distinctive photo, capture a birds-eye view of the couple lying on the grass.
The couple should position themselves with their heads close together, facing opposite directions with their eyes closed.
The bride can touch her groom’s face for a touch of sweetness.
14. First Dance
Documenting all the firsts is essential on wedding days.
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Even though the couple usually dance for the first time at the reception, they can practice their first dance during their photo shoot.
This is an excellent chance to take some dynamic photos that make perfect memories for the wedding day.
15. The Hand Kiss
A classic yet elegant pose is when the groom kisses the bride’s hand.
It’s a heartwarming shot that showcases the love and connection between the couple, and it’s a great addition to any wedding album.
16. The Forehead Kiss
This shot is usually the option for photographers when they struggle to get the couple to relax.
Just like a hand kiss, a forehead kiss is a sweet gesture that helps the couple feel more connected during their photo shoot.
Must-Have Wedding Reception Photos
While it’s exciting to anticipate the arrival of your loved ones at the wedding venue, it’s equally essential to appreciate the beauty of the venue while it’s empty.
Before everyone arrives, here’s a list of must-have shots:
- Venue interior (before guests arrive)
- Venue exterior
- Centerpieces on tables
- Detailed shots of the styling
- Guest favors
- Place settings
- Signage for the event
- The wedding cake (pre-sliced)
- The bridal table
- Entrance of the bridal party
- Newlyweds entrance
- Toasts and speeches given
- Newlyweds sitting at the bridal table
- Newlyweds waving at guests and family members
- Guests interacting with each other
- The first dance
- The father-daughter first dance
- The mother-son first dance
- Guests dancing
- Musicians and entertainers performing
- Bride and groom dancing with guests on the dance floor
- The bouquet-toss moment
- The cake-cutting moment
- Garter toss
- Chair lifting
- Money dance
- Hora dance
- Kids playing and dancing
- Newlyweds exiting the reception
- The sparkler exit
- The car awaiting the newly married couple
Must-Have Wedding Family Photos
Here’s one thing no one else will tell you: family photos can take forever during the wedding day!
To make things easier for the couple and the photographer, I made an extensive list of must-have wedding family photos:
1. Bride and Groom With Their Families Together
- Bride and groom with their immediate families and grandparents
- Bride and groom with their immediate families
- Bride and groom with their siblings
- Bride and groom with their parents
- Bride and groom with their siblings and siblings-in-law
2. The Bride’s Family
- Bride and groom with the bride’s immediate family and grandparents
- Bride and groom with bride’s parents
- Bride and groom with bride’s grandparents
- Bride and groom with bride’s immediate family
- Bride and groom with bride’s siblings
- Bride and groom with bride’s siblings and siblings-in-law
- Bride with her mom
- Bride with her dad
- Bride with her parents
- Bride with her grandmother
- Bride with her grandfather
- Bride with her grandparents
- Bride with her siblings
- Bride with each sibling alone
- Bride with siblings and siblings-in-law
3. The Groom’s Family
- Bride and groom with groom’s parents
- Bride and groom with groom’s immediate family
- Bride and groom with groom’s grandparents and immediate family
- Bride and groom with groom’s siblings
- Bride and groom with groom’s siblings and siblings-in-law
- Groom with his parents
- Groom with his mom
- Groom with his dad
- Groom with his parents
- Groom with his grandfather
- Groom with his grandmother
- Groom with his grandparents
- Groom with all his siblings
- Groom with each sibling individually
4. More Family Photos Ideas
- Bride with maid of honor
- Bride with bridesmaids
- Bride with every bridesmaid individually
- Bride with the flower girl
- Bride and groom with the best man and maid of honor
- Groom and bride with the ring bearer
- Bride and groom with any special guests or family members
- Groom with god-parents
- Bride with god-parents
- Bride and groom with their pets (if applicable)
- Groom and bride with extended family members (cousins, uncles, and aunts)
Additional Wedding Photos Ideas
When the wedding party starts, all the eyes are on the bride and her groom.
However, there are a ton of priceless moments that still need to be captured.
1. Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
Capture formal and candid photos of the bridesmaid and the groomsmen together. Ask every member to strike a pose that showcases their unique personality.
Moreover, take some candid shots of everyone laughing and chatting. It showcases the special bonds between the groom and his groomsmen and the bride and her bridesmaids.
2. Individual Portraits
Allow every wedding member to pose for the camera to show their distinct personality. Take close-up shots of important family members such as parents, grandparents, and siblings.
Additionally, take shots of the maid of honor and the best man; they play an essential role and deserve photos of their own.
3. Candid Moments
As the party goes on, there are a ton of gestures, reactions, and incidents to be captured.
As a photographer, you should keep an eye out for all the genuine smiles and laughter that show the newlyweds’ happiness and excitement.
Capturing the guests’ reactions for big moments such as cake cutting, first dance, and garter toss is also crucial to documenting the emotional significance of the wedding.
As the Content Manager of Shotkit, India Mantle brings with her a lifelong love for photography that she developed during her childhood, watching her father document their family moments with his Nikon EM. In her free time, you find her enjoying the awe-inspiring natural beauty of her home, Northern Rivers, Australia.