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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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Choreographed or improvised, the first dance is an endearing hallmark of the reception (and hopefully a cue to get others dancing soon too!).
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.
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.
Nothing beats the unhinged happiness of the dance floor. We love these dynamic shots for their motion, blur, and big smiles.
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…