If there’s one thing couples share about their wedding day, it’s how fast the day goes by, in the blink of an eye. Your wedding photographer is there to capture every detail so friends, family – and most importantly, you – can lovingly look back at every moment. To make sure the most important events of the day are captured, develop a wedding photography shot list so your photographer and their team know not to miss a thing. 

What is a shot list for a wedding photographer?

A photography shot list refers to a list of pictures you’d like your wedding photographer to capture on your big day. This customizable list covers the breadth of your event, from pre-wedding hair and makeup, to a full list of family members who should be in the wedding portraits, to post-ceremony photos under a tunnel of twinkling lights. 

How to use a wedding photo shot list

A wedding photo shot list ensures that your photographer is prepared well ahead of your wedding day. It’s one less thing to think about during your wedding, knowing that the list of photos you want to capture is in safe and capable hands. It also helps you and your loved one plan any special shoots they’d like captured, like the first look or a moment with a beloved pet, and ensures any props or special instructions are received by the photographer. 

Use these shots to build your own wedding photography list

Make every shot count. You can use our example shot list below as an outline to build your own. 

Tivoli (left) and Ethereal Gardens (right)

Shots of the bride

Some of the bridal portraits you may want to capture include:

  • The hair and makeup process from all angles
  • The hairstyle from the back
  • Shot of the wedding outfit hanging on its own
  • Outfit touch-ups by parent or wedding party member
  • Detail photos of the wedding outfit
  • Shot of the wedding invitations + rings 
  • Full-length photo of the bride
  • Accessory shot, like shoes and the ring, with creative placement
  • Photo of the veil on its own
  • Holding the bouquet, if in use
  • Cheers with bride and the wedding party
  • The bride reading a letter from their partner

Shots of the groom

Capture timeless portraits of the man of the hour. Among the groom shots you may want to include are: 

  • Full-length photo of the groom
  • Accessory shots of the watch, tie or bowtie, and cufflinks
  • The groom putting on their wedding outfit
  • Detail shots of the groom’s shoes
  • Cheers with the groom and bridal party
  • The groom reading a letter from their partner
  • Groom looking out of the window
  • Parent or wedding party member attaching the boutonniere to the suit 

The first look, if you opt for one

One of the most intimate moments of your wedding day will be your first look. From the happy tears to the huge smiles, capture every moment on camera with these photos:

  • Groom or partner standing by themselves
  • Bride or partner approaching their spouse from behind
  • Shot of the approaching partner from over the second partner’s shoulder
  • Photo from the side of the final first-look approach 
  • Bride or partner tapping on their fiance’s shoulder
  • Groom or partner turning around to see their soon-to-be spouse
  • The couple embracing each other
  • Close-up shots of the couple’s reaction faces
  • Couples reading their wedding letters to each other, if not captured in the getting ready stage

Ethereal Gardens (Left)

Shots of the couple together

You may want to take portraits right after the first look, or you might want to take these shots during cocktail hour. Whichever you choose, a complete list of desired pictures keeps the process moving smoothly. 

  • Portraits outside the venue
  • Portraits at the ceremony site
  • Photos in romantic poses, like holding hands or kissing
  • Any silly poses you want to strike
  • Any unique objects or artifacts you want to hold in portraits together

The pre-ceremony

Before everyone arrives at the venue, ask your photographer to take a couple of shots of your wedding scenery, from the ceremony site to the flowers and decor. Then, once guests start to enter, ask for a few photos of the action. Some shots include:

  • A photo of the welcome sign
  • Venue shots, including the wedding ceremony site, the aisle, any flowers, decor, and notable interior and exterior details
  • Photos of programs
  • Favors ready to be picked up by wedding guests
  • Guests settling in for the ceremony

The ceremony

The main event warrants photos of big moments and intricate details alike. These options can help guide your ceremony shot list:

  • Waiting at the altar
  • The officiant at the altar
  • Any special ceremonial objects ready for use at the altar
  • Wedding party members lined up to walk down the aisle
  • Wedding party members coming up the aisle
  • Flower child and ring bearers coming up the aisle
  • Each partner walking down the aisle
  • The reactions of one partner as the second partner walks down the aisle
  • Bridal party reactions
  • Guest reactions
  • Couple standing together at the altar
  • Exchanging of vows
  • Exchanging the rings
  • Additional ceremonies taking place at the altar, such as a candle ceremony
  • The first kiss as a married couple
  • Couple making their way back down the aisle
  • Guests cheering and celebrating
  • Couple kissing on their way back down the aisle

Green Gables (left) and Ethereal Gardens (Right)

The cocktail hour and reception

Write down a list of all the must-have photos you’d like captured during your reception. This can be anything from cake cutting and first bites to capturing your family and friends’ toasts (and roasts). 

Our tip: Each couple brings with them unique traditions and events that they want captured. If you plan a special guest, event, or service during your reception, be sure to tell your photographer ahead of time so they can be prepared.

  • Guests mingling
  • Food, including cocktail hour bites and full plates
  • Drinks being poured at the bar
  • Tablescape details
  • Room decor details 
  • Custom signage
  • Any favors given out
  • Wedding party entrance
  • The couple’s grand entrance
  • The first dance
  • The couple dancing with their family members, such as parents or grandparents
  • Family and friends delivering toasts
  • Cake cutting
  • Couple mingling with guests
  • Shots of the couple and guests on the dance floor
  • Entertainment, like the band or the DJ
  • The couple’s grand exit

Family portraits

Each family dynamic is different, and your photographer needs to know what to expect before beginning these shots. This shot list is a guide that you can customize to ensure all desired family portraits are on your photographer’s to-do list.

  • Bride and/or groom with parents, individual and together
  • Bride and/or groom with siblings, individually and together 
  • Bride and/or groom with grandparents, individually and together
  • Bride and/or groom with aunts or uncles, individually and together
  • Bride and/or groom with cousins, individually and together
  • Whole family portraits
  • The couple with all parents
  • The couple with respective partner’s parents
  • The couple with flower child and ring bearer
  • All family members’ group photo

Wedding party shots

Make sure to take plenty of pictures with your wedding party, from full-length group photos to one-on-one portraits, to celebrate each person who was by your side during the wedding planning process. If you want a memorable way to capture your closest friends, either with fun photos or a special pose, this is the place to include it.

  • Couple with the entire wedding party
    • Add a mix of serious and fun poses to the shot list
  • Each partner with their attendants
  • Each partner with each individual attendant
  • The whole wedding party walking toward the camera
  • The whole wedding party giggling together 
  • Jumping for joy as a crew
  • Couple kisses while wedding party looks on 
  • The group toasts to the couple

Guest shots

Remember all those who came to celebrate you. Add crowd shots to your shot list to make sure your guests are well represented when the photos come your way.

  • Each guest table huddled together
  • Guests enjoying the event on the dance floor
  • Cocktail hour intermingling 
  • Guests smiling and talking with newly married couple 
  • Guests slow-dancing with their partners
  • Signing the newly married couples’ guest book 

Wedding day details

Capture the little things that make your special day that much more magical. From floral arrangements to table settings, here’s a list of wedding details you may want to capture on camera. 

  • Photographs of the wedding rings
  • Bouquet and boutonniere shots
  • Photos of the altar decor and any ritual items used
  • The table settings and placecards
  • Pictures of the floral arrangements
  • Shots of the ceremony space empty
  • Photos of the wedding reception space empty
  • Programs, menus, invitations, and other custom documents
  • Any custom drinks or bar menus
  • Extras at the cocktail hour, such as the couple’s initials in ice
  • The wedding cake
  • Guest book details
  • Capturing special vendors, such as photo booths
  • Photos of each course of the meal 

A final bit of advice 

Shot lists are standard practice for photographers, keeping them organized and on time on such an important day. A wedding photography shot list customized to your wedding ensures that every precious moment is captured for you to look back upon with pride and joy. With this important task taken care of, you can focus on yourself and your partner on the happiest day of your life.