50+ Ideas You Need to Include On Your Wedding Photo Shot List

Your wedding photo shot list is basically a checklist for your wedding photographer. Don't forget any of those special moments with our complete guide to your wedding photo list.

By Jane Chertoff

couple photo from wedding photo shot list
Photo by Rengim Mutevellioglu

Your wedding photos are going to be the one memento from your big day that you hang onto forever. For that reason, you’ll want to do your due diligence and hire the right wedding photographer. You’ll also want to provide them with a wedding photo list, or a list of must-have photos, that you want them to take before, during, and after the ceremony. To ensure you end up with your ideal wedding photography, go through our comprehensive wedding photo checklist below.

Why Do I Need a Wedding Photo List?

A shot list is helpful because it basically serves as a checklist for the photographer. They can reference it and make sure you get all the photos you want with the most important people in your life. It can also help them capture the moments of the day you don’t want to miss.

Pro tip: You may want to appoint a point-person who can round up or point out family members and other guests who you include on your shot list. That way, you can enjoy your day without having to take on this role.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Wedding Photo List

Before you even share your list with your photographer, learn how to optimize the relationship to make sure you get the absolute most out of your shot list.

1. Get to know your photographer.

You’re going to be very busy on your wedding day. That’s why you’ll want to get to know your wedding photographer a bit beforehand. Try to set up an in-person meeting or two, or a few phone calls, to talk about your vision for your wedding photos. If you aren’t sure, you can also ask them to describe their vibe/style and how they approach weddings. (For example, do they do candid shots, or is it mostly posed? Do you also shoot with film, or just digitally?)

Make sure you’re comfortable with your photographer’s style and approach before you hire them. Explore Zola's vendor directory to find trusted wedding photographers from Denver, CO to Los Angeles, CA and everything in between. And don’t be shy to speak up about special requests or traditions you want them to capture.

2. Be upfront about your traditions or special moments.

Your wedding day is a unique reflection of who you and your partner are. Different types of ceremonies have special traditions, and it’s your photographer’s job to capture your special moments.

Be sure to let them know ahead of time what to expect and what moments you’d like them to capture. For example, you may want specific shots of the mangal phera at an Indian wedding, the couple being wrapped in a tallit in a Jewish ceremony, or the tea ceremony at a traditional Chinese wedding. You can also be as specific as possible about your requests for photos. (“I’m wearing my mom’s veil,” or “Please get close-up shots of the coins used during the Savaqah.”)

3. If you see something, say something.

Your photographer and/or their assistants will be moving all around on the wedding day capturing you getting ready, followed by the ceremony, and reception. That’s not to say other smaller moments won’t come up that you’ll want to remember, though.

If you happen upon a moment of detail you’d like photographed, just let your photographer or videographer know. For example, your mother in law presenting you with something old from your partner’s childhood or the happy couple holding umbrellas in a sudden rainstorm as everyone is sitting down inside for dinner. Those special moments may just end up being your favorite photos from the day.

Wedding Day Photo List

This shot list is designed to work with a number of different wedding styles and traditions. Feel free to add photos, disregard photos, or otherwise edit this list to fit your wedding’s specific needs and look. For example, “getting ready” may mean one thing to you and another to another couple. Feel free to interpret each suggested image through the lens of your wedding.

Before the Wedding Day

Engagement Shoot

Months before your wedding takes place, you're likely to have an engagement shoot. These photos can be used in your save the dates, invitations, wedding website, registry, and more. Here are some specific shots you can ask for during this photo shoot.

  • Wide-angle shot (including a lot of wow-worthy scenery with room for potential text)
  • Close-ups of your faces (kissing, foreheads leaning together, etc.)
  • Natural and candid moments
  • Close-up of engagement ring(s)
  • Individual portraits

Rehearsal Dinner

While professional photos during your rehearsal dinner aren't by any means a requirement, it's likely to be a night worthy of capturing. Ask your wedding photographer if you can add this event into your photo package.

  • Exterior and interior of venue
  • Guests arriving
  • Couple's big entrance
  • Speeches and toasts
  • Candid eating, drinking, conversation

Getting Ready/Pre-ceremony

Detail Shots

Detail shots allow you to capture an up-close look at all of the stunning little details that've gone (or will go) into your wedding.

  • Classic flat lay (typically includes your wedding invitation, wedding rings, other jewelry, perfume bottle, and the bride's shoes)
  • Wedding invitation close-up
  • Rings close-up
  • Shoes and jewelry close-up
  • Flower bouquets close-up
  • Bride(s)'s dress hanging up (you can have the gown alone and/or hanging alongside any outfit changes or the bridal party's ensembles)
  • Groom(s)'s attire hanging up (alone and/or with groomsmen's ensembles)

Portraits

Take advantage of your getting ready time and request a few solo, candid portraits of the bride and groom. These will look stunning in any frames or wedding albums you decide to make when you get your photos back.

  • Bride(s) looking in mirror
  • Bride(s) putting on jewelry
  • Bride(s) putting on shoes
  • Bride(s) spending a moment alone
  • Groom(s) looking in mirror
  • Groom(s) buttoning up shirt
  • Groom(s) putting on suit jacket
  • Groom(s) tying their tie
  • Groom(s) adding final touches to attire
  • Groom(s) spending a moment alone

Getting Ready Together

You can't let the getting ready period go by without capturing one of the best parts—the people that are there with you. Ask for the following to capture all of the fun.

  • Bride(s) and wedding party getting hair/makeup done
  • Groom(s) getting ready with wedding party
  • Bride(s) and bridal party sharing a getting-ready toast
  • Groom(s) and groomsmen sharing a getting-ready toast
  • Buttoning or zipping of wedding dress/ensemble
  • Best Man adjusting groom(s)'s tie and boutonniere
  • Father and/or mother— or whoever is important to you—of the bride(s) first look at bride(s)
  • Father and/or mother—or whoever is important to you—of the groom(s) first look at groom(s)

First Look

While a first look photo session isn't always necessary (or wanted), having one can be thrilling, special, and even practical. Coordinate with your photographer or photographers to

  • Walking up to your partner (if you have a scenic walkway)
  • Descending the stairs (if done inside)
  • Holding hands around a building/room corner
  • Standing back-to-back
  • Love letters close-ups (if you and your partner planned to write and exchange letters before your ceremony)
  • Tap on the shoulder (or however else you want to tell your partner to turn around)
  • The big reveals
  • Couple's portraits

Family Photos

Many couples will plan to have their family portraits done immediately after the ceremony, during their cocktail hour. While that's a popular option, we highly suggest that smaller groups have these taken post-first look and pre-ceremony. This, of course, depends on your ability to get the needed family members together beforehand.

  • Bride and her parents (if applicable)
  • Bride(s) with their bridal bouquet, bridesmaids with bouquets
  • Groom and his parents (if applicable)
  • Bride(s) and groom(s) with each other's sets of parents
  • Bride(s) with their siblings
  • Groom(s) with their siblings
  • Immediate families on both sides
  • Extended families on both sides (including cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.)
  • Bride(s) with flower girl(s)
  • Groom(s) with ring bearer(s)
  • Couple with flower girl(s) and ring bearer(s)

Bridesmaids and Groomsmen

Likewise, we suggest taking any group photos with your bridesmaids and groomsmen post-getting ready, before the ceremony. This is likely the most convenient option, since you'll already be all together. That being said, this can also take place after the ceremony.

  • Bride(s) with bridesmaids/wedding party
  • Groom(s) with groomsmen/wedding party
  • Bride(s) with Maid of Honor and/or Matron of Honor
  • Groom(s) with the Best Man
  • Bride(s) and groom(s) with entire wedding party, smiling
  • Bride(s) and groom(s) with wedding party, serious
  • Bride(s) and groom(s) kiss with wedding party celebrating behind

Special Moments

Don't forgot to mention any other specific important moments that will be taking place throughout this time! Go through your plans and inform your photographer(s) of anything you want captured.

  • Any pre-ceremony religious traditions (signing the ketubah, tea ceremony, etc.)
  • Love letters (if you plan to leave letters for one-another in your getting ready areas and read them alone)
  • Gifts (opening any gifts that are exchanged between the couple)

Walk/Ride to the Ceremony

Capture all of the nerves and giddy exciting as you and your loved ones make your way to the ceremony venue.

  • Bride(s) and wedding party leaving for ceremony
  • Groom(s) and company leaving for ceremony
  • Shot of/in wedding car (if applicable)

Ceremony

Before it Begins

Ask your photographer to get some photos of the space, guests, and more before the ceremony officially begins.

  • Empty venue/ceremony site before guests arrive (including the entire space, alter, flowers, interior/exterior details)
  • Guests inside and outside venue
  • Guests walking in and taking their seats
  • Ushers handing out programs
  • Musicians playing pre-ceremony music (if present)
  • Arrival in wedding car
  • Shot of each partner right before ceremony

Processional

Ask for every wonderful moment of you and your loved ones walking down the aisle. From tear-jerking to adorable, there's sure to be many moments you won't want to miss.

  • Groom(s) entering with parents (or similar)
  • Wedding party entering the venue (parents, grandparents, paired-up wedding party, flower girl, ring bearer)
  • Bride(s) entering with parents (or similar) from front and behind
  • Bride's or groom's reaction
  • Father/mother (or loved one) giving away bride or groom

During the Ceremony

You're finally here! Capture every important wedding ceremony moment so that you can keep and relive them for years and years to come.

  • Shots throughout the ceremony from different angles
  • Exchanging of vows
  • Exchanging of rings
  • Other participants (officiant, readers, singers, musicians, etc.)
  • Traditions and other special moments (lighting unity candle, handfasting, breaking of glass, etc.)
  • First kiss as married couple and following moments
  • Signing marriage license
  • Recessional (couple and wedding party walking back down the aisle)
  • Couple's kiss at the end of the aisle with guests' reactions in view
  • Confetti or flower petal throwing
  • Exiting the ceremony
  • Newlywed shots
  • Close-up of wedding bands

Reception

Pre-Reception and Details

Before the wedding reception beings, request a few photos of the beautiful space. Don't forget some of the smaller, thoughtful details! Make sure all of your work and planning doesn't go unnoticed.

  • Reception venue decorated before guests arrive
  • Shots of food/wedding cake/desserts, décor, special drinks, bar etc.
  • Shots of place cards, table settings, menus, centerpieces, etc.

Candid and Informal Shots

Some of the best wedding photos are entirely unplanned. Your photographer(s) should have a keen eye for fun and beautiful moments—ask that they capture as many as possible!

  • Guests arriving
  • Specific groups together (friend groups, coworkers, college friends, teammates, etc.)
  • Couple and guests eating, drinking, chatting, etc.
  • Couple and guests on the dance floor
  • DJ/band/musicians/singers
  • Mingling
  • Guests signing guest book
  • Guests taking part in any activities (games, photo booths, etc.)

Big Moments

That being said, be sure to include and inform them of any big traditions and moments you'll be having and want photos of.

  • Grand entrance of wedding party
  • Grand entrance of the newlywed couple
  • First dance
  • Toasts, with bride(s)/groom(s) reactions
  • Father-daughter dance, mother-son dance (or similar)
  • Cake cutting
  • Pouring champagne tower
  • Included traditions (bouquet toss, garter toss, etc.)
  • Bride(s)/groom(s) last dance (if included)
  • Bride(s)/groom(s) exiting the reception
  • Bride(s)/groom(s) in getaway car (if applicable)

Note: Every wedding is unique. Be sure to customize your shot list to include all the important traditions and people you want to see in your wedding photos! Need some advice or help with any other part of wedding planning (like how to store your photos once you get them)? Zola's got you covered.

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