Your Wedding Photo Shot List: How to Get the Pictures You Want

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.

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.

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.

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.”)

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.

Getting Ready/Pre-ceremony

  • The wedding invitation
  • The rings/bands
  • Bride(s)’s dress hanging up / groom(s)’s attire hanging up
  • Bride(s) and wedding party getting hair/makeup done
  • Bride(s) looking in mirror/alone
  • Shoes/jewelry close-ups
  • Flower bouquets
  • Groom(s) getting ready with wedding party
  • Groom(s) adding final touches to attire
  • Father and/or mother of the bride (or whoever is important to you!) first look at bride(s)
  • Bride(s) and wedding party leaving for ceremony
  • Groom(s) and company leaving for ceremony
  • First look wedding photos (optional)
  • First photos of bride(s)/groom(s) together pre-ceremony (if this is part of your plan)
  • Any pre-ceremony religious traditions (signing the ketubah, tea ceremony, etc.)
  • Couple together
  • Bride and her parents (if applicable)
  • Groom and his parents (if applicable)
  • Bride(s) and groom(s) with each other’s set of parents
  • Immediate families on both sides
  • Extended families on both sides (including cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.)
  • Bride(s) with bridesmaids/wedding party
  • Groom(s) with groomsmen/wedding party
  • Entire wedding party


  • Shot of the venue before guests arrives
  • Guests taking their seats
  • Groom(s) entering with parents (if applicable)
  • Shot of each partner right before ceremony
  • Wedding party entering venue
  • Close up of bride(s) before entering venue
  • Shots throughout the ceremony from different angles
  • The kiss/embrace
  • Audience reactions
  • Exiting the ceremony


  • Reception venue decorated before guests arrive
  • Shots of food/cake/desserts, décor, special drinks, bar etc.
  • Shots of place cards, menus, centerpieces, etc.
  • Guests arriving
  • Bride(s) and/or groom(s) arriving
  • Grand entrance of wedding party, bride(s) and groom(s)
  • First dance
  • Guests making toasts, bride(s)/groom(s) reaction
  • Bride(s) and/or groom(s) with any special guests (grandparents, etc.)
  • Bride(s) and father(s) dance/groom(s) and mother(s) dance
  • Parents dancing
  • Guests dancing
  • Cutting the cake
  • Bouquet toss/other fun traditions
  • Shots of guests signing guest book
  • Bride(s)/groom(s) exiting the reception

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!

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