35 Must-Have Photos

The Wedding Photography Checklist

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Newly married couple on the dance floor

Throughout your wedding day are many meaningful moments that you won’t want to miss. The best way to make it all last? Capturing them through photography to always look back. And while it’s unrealistic to get it all on camera, giving your photographer a prioritized wedding shot list will allow them to seek out the pieces that matter most to you.

There are plenty of neverending wedding photography checklists out there. So instead of rattling off all of the possibilities, we’ve curated them into a manageable list of the photos that are true must-haves.





Getting Ready



Bridal gown on display

Mom zipping up bride's wedding gown

Prior to putting on the wedding dress, have a timeless shot taken of it hanging up against natural light, like a window. This helps set the getting-ready scene, while highlighting the silhouette and details of this centerpiece garment. (Or, seize your model moment!)


Getting ready moment

Bride getting ready with bridesmaid

The amount of preparation that goes into the bride’s stunning look for the day can be impressive. Show her, optionally with bridesmaids, having makeup and hair done for an easy way to build excitement.


The little details

Bride’s shoes and pendant
Groom’s shoes and watch

Even the smallest details can hold meaning and significance on such a big day. Requesting a few images of the accessories that complete the outfits of both bride and groom can add the subtleties that round out the getting ready story. In your wedding album, they'll make for a little breathing room between those big, momentous shots.


Practicing or writing vows

Woman writing her vows

Most couples will distinctly remember the process of writing their vows or reading them over before the ceremony. A simple photo will transport you back to those butterflies.


Toast with groomsmen

Groomsmen sharing a toast before the ceremony

The groomsmen may not require as much of a production to prepare for the occasion, leaving plenty of opportunity to get a few laughs or a toast together.


Moment of reflection

Bride taking a moment of reflection after getting ready

A quiet moment alone in their dressing rooms gives brides and grooms opportunity to reflect on what’s to come, individually. This intentional time also serves as a solemn and even artistic photo op.


Bride with parents

Bride and mom together before ceremony

As getting ready concludes, have the mother of the bride help secure a final detail, like a necklace, or capture her father’s first look with the heartfelt hug that’s sure to follow.





Pre-Ceremony

Invitation suite

Wedding invitation and bands

Save the dates and invitation suites play an important role in your big day. Save a set of your wedding stationery to have a photo taken in the setting for which they were made.


Bride and groom portraits

Portrait of groom before ceremony
Portrait of bride before ceremony

Fresh hair and makeup, no wrinkles in the suit — now’s a great time to take the couple’s portraits both together and individually. This can also be done after the ceremony, should the couple keep the tradition of waiting to see each other.


First look

Bride tearing up as she sees groom for the first time before ceremony
Bride and groom seeing each other for the first time before wedding ceremony

For couples who decide to see each other before the ceremony, this candid moment can capture their genuine reaction and anticipation in a private moment together.


Bridal bouquet

Hand holding up bridal bouquet

Always by the bride’s side, this beautiful floral accessory deserves a close-up moment of its own. The unique arrangement and color palette have a way of tying the whole aesthetic together.


The ceremony site

Empty wedding ceremony setting before guests arrive

Set the scene with a serene shot of the location before all the commotion, whether that’s the exterior of a church, the lakeside backdrop, or the altar in the afternoon light.





Ceremony

Guests arriving and awaiting

Guests waiting for wedding ceremony to begin

Similarly setting the scene, a wide-angle photo of the guests beginning to arrive and find their seats is a view that the wedding party doesn’t get to enjoy in the moment. A friendly hug or delighted smile can portray the excitement surrounding the union.


Walking down the aisle

Bride walking down the aisle

In the procession, many important people can be found walking down the aisle. But on our must-have wedding photos list, it’s the bride accompanied by her most important person or people “giving her away” that’s the most moving for all to see.


Groom watching the bride enter

Groom tearing up as he watches bride enter the ceremony

In that same minute, the groom seeing the bride can be an emotional moment. This is one of those instances when it’s especially handy to have a second photographer, while the other is taking the previous photo!


Wedding party at the altar

Wedding party at the altar

All of the couple’s best friends in one place, standing to support them on their day — that carries weight. With the coordinated colors, tears, and smiles, it makes for a shot the whole bridal party will love to look back on.


Ring and vow exchange

Bride and groom exchanging vows on the beach

A key moment in the ceremony and day at large, the exchange of vows and rings signals the union itself. For that, it’s a staple in the wedding album!


A moment of levity

Bride laughing as wedding officiant says something funny

Humor in the ceremony keeps the mood light. A wedged ring, a quick-witted line — no matter how it comes about, laughter always leads to some of our favorite wedding photos.


The first kiss

Bride and groom sharing first kiss as husband and wife

The first kiss at the ceremony’s end is just one of those classic scenes. In it, there’s joy, relief, and romance all bound in one frame-worthy moment.


Recession up the aisle

Bride and groom exiting the wedding ceremony as husband and wife

With the major milestone of the day reached, there’s no shortage of cheers and tears to go around. Capture that throw-your-hands-in-the-air happiness as the couple leads the way back up the aisle to close out the ceremony.





Pre-Reception

Cocktail hour

Wedding guests enjoying cocktail hour before the reception

Since the cocktail hour is often a time used by the wedding party for portraits, it may go unseen for those taking photos. We recommend adding this to your wedding photo must-haves to enjoy the atmosphere later, at the very least!


Full family portrait

Full family portrait with bride and groom

Weddings mark the merging of families, so be sure to gather parents, siblings, and immediate (or extended!) family members from both sides of the aisle. With everyone in one place, this is one for your heirloom album.


Wedding party group shot

Portrait of wedding party

Your (probably color-coordinated) crew of bridesmaids and groomsmen can make for the most personality-filled pictures. Get at least one of everyone together, and consider smaller sets of just guys or just gals.

Portrait of bridal party
Portrait of wedding party

Couple separately with parents

Portrait of bride and father
Portrait of groom and mother

There are a few different combinations of parent portraits (bride with mom, groom with dad, etc.) that are each nice to have — especially for giving as printed gifts after the wedding! Additionally, consider pulling in step-parents, grandparents, or other important figures in your life, as time allows.

A moment alone

Portrait of bride and groom enjoying a moment alone
Portrait of newly married couple enjoying a moment alone before reception

Photos between the ceremony and reception may be the only time you’re able to steal a moment alone on the big day. Take advantage of the peace and tranquility by enjoying a reprieve between all of the responsibilities. It often makes for some of the most poignant photos from the day.


The marriage license

Couple signing marriage license

Don’t forget a photo of you putting ink to paper, together. The signing of the marriage license can be a symbolic photo that represents your union — which is why we’ve included it as part of our must-have wedding shots.


Reception Decor

Table settings at wedding reception

Many decisions go into the reception atmosphere: the venue, the decor, the minutiae. Make a point to get a photo or two of the space at large and smaller delightful details that came to life that day. Trust us: it’ll all be a blur, and you’ll love seeing the celebration as your guests did!





Reception

Speeches and toasts

Father giving speech at wedding reception

This part of the reception always brings a sense of connection to the newlyweds (and usually a few good laughs, too). Pro-tip: Don’t forget to have someone capture these on video! You’ll love listening back down the road to remember their kind words.


Happy couple at the head table

Bride and groom at the head table

A great time to capture the couple at their head table during the reception is during those aforementioned speeches and toasts. The facial expressions and clinking of glasses simply can’t be beat!


The first dance

Bride and groom enjoying first dance
Newly married couple enjoying first dance

Choreographed or improvised, the first dance is an endearing hallmark of the reception (and hopefully a cue to get others dancing soon too!).


Parent dances

Father-daughter dance at wedding reception

Father-daughter, mother-son, or both — parent dances are some of the sweetest moments of the day. One simple photo can capture the relationship, and it’ll mean the world to you both.


Special cultural traditions

Bride and groom cutting the cake

Don’t forget to document what makes this celebration special to you! Traditions like the bouquet toss, chair dances, cake cutting, or interactive games can say a lot about what you two find most important.


Dance floor

Crowded dance floor at wedding reception

Nothing beats the unhinged happiness of the dance floor. We love these dynamic shots for their motion, blur, and big smiles.


Final Exit

Bride and groom making final exit on a bicycle

The final exit from the reception is one of the more artistic opportunities for wedding photo must-haves. Surrounded by a tunnel of sparklers, bubbles, or confetti, it’s a picturesque conclusion to the day — and a perfect ending to your album!


Once your photos are in hand…

Create that dream album.



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