The Ultimate Wedding Photography Checklist
Author: Hollie Bond
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Make sure you capture every magical moment of your big day by following our checklist of all the must-have wedding shots and printing out our downloadable list for your photographer.
You only get one chance to capture your wedding day and preserve it in perfect photo album form for posterity, so it’s really important to get it right. Imagine your disappointment if you discover there’s not a single shot of you and your maid of honour together, or that there’s no picture evidence of the look on your dad’s face when he saw you for the first time in your wedding dress or big day suit.
Experienced wedding photographers will, of course, know how important it is to capture these moments (if you haven’t chosen yours yet read our guide to picking a wedding photographer here), but it’s still a good idea to do some of your own photography prep before the big day.
Make time to sit down with your partner and discuss which pictures are really key to you as a couple. Perhaps a loved one is absent from the day and it’s imperative that the photographer takes a picture of the portrait you are carrying of them in your bouquet or buttonhole. Maybe you spent hours carefully hand-crafting a piece of the decor that you really want to be featured in your photo album.
Or like a lot of families, you could have an unconventional family set-up with step-parents or step-siblings that are important to you and you can’t imagine not featuring heavily in your photos.
We’ve compiled a checklist of all the must-capture wedding photos, that you can give to your photographer, to ensure your wedding album is as perfect as the big day itself.
Before The Wedding Photo Checklist
- Wedding stationery – save the date, invitation, order of service
- Engagement ring(s) and wedding bands
- Outside of wedding ceremony venue
- Ceremony setting without guests in it
- Key decor details within the ceremony room
- Ceremony flowers and altar
- Any personalised wedding signage/ decor/ confetti cones
- Bridal bouquet(s)
- Bridesmaids bouquets
- The buttonholes
- Wedding transport without passengers
Bride Getting Ready Photo Checklist
- Outside of bride’s(s’) house(s) if not getting ready at venue
- Wedding dress(es) on hanger (make sure it’s a beautiful, wedding dress-worthy hanger!)
- Bridal shoes
- Accessories (jewellery, veil, tiara etc.)
- Close-up of bridal perfume/ bride(s) putting on perfume
- Bride(s)/ bridesmaids/ mother-of-the-bride having their hair done
- Bride(s)/ bridesmaids/ mother-of-the-bride having their make-up done
- Bride(s)/ bridesmaids/ mother-of-the-bride together in ‘getting ready’ dressing gowns (if you have them)
- Bride(s) stepping in to wedding dress(es)
- Bridesmaids/ mother doing up dress’s zip/buttons/ ribbons
- Bride(s) putting on the veil
- Bridesmaids/ mother-of-the-bride’s first look at bride(s) dressed
- Father-of-the-bride’s first look at the bride(s)
- Bride(s) helping father(s) with buttonhole
- Bride(s) giving mother(s) a corsage
- Bride(s) holding bouquet
- Bride(s) with bridesmaids and close family before leaving for ceremony
- Bride(s) leaving for the ceremony
Groom Getting Ready Photo Checklist
If you want to capture the groom or second bride/groom (at same sex weddings) getting ready at the same time, remember to have a second shooter, or if you’re getting ready in the same place but in different rooms, ask your photographer to split their time between the two. Another idea is to have the photographer with one member of the to-be-married couple and then the videographer (if you’re having one) with the other, as then you capture both members of the couple getting ready, for no extra expense.
- Suit(s) hanging up/ laid out nicely
- Accessories (cufflinks, watch, pocket square)
- Groom(s) and groomsmen
- Groom(s) and best man/men
- Groom(s) having his buttonhole put on lapel
- Groom’s(s’) parents coming in
- Groom(s) with father(s)
- Groom(s) with mother(s)
- Groom(s) leaving for ceremony
First Look Shoot
Some couples like the idea of a special just-the-two-of-them moment where they see each other before the ceremony and have photos taken.
This is called a first look shoot.
It isn’t for everyone as it means you don’t get that moment where you lay eyes on each other for the first time during the ceremony, but it can be a very intimate and private part of the day without guests watching. You can even have a first touch shoot, where you stand either side of a door and just hold hands and exchange words without actually seeing each other. We’ve seen some incredibly moving pictures from first touch shoots, so they’re a lovely idea if you have time.
Wedding Ceremony Photo Checklist
- Wedding guests arriving
- Ushers showing guests where to go
- Members of bridal party and parents greeting guests
- Both sets of parents arriving
- Guests finding their seats
- Groom or bride standing at altar (looking nervous/ excited!)
- Groom or bride chatting to his best man/ her maid of honour
- Bridesmaids/ maid of honour arriving outside the ceremony venue
- Flower girls and page boys
- Guests waiting for bride(s) or groom(s) to arrive
- Officiant behind the altar
- Bride(s)/ groom(s) entering the venue
- Procession of bridesmaids and bride with father (or whoever is leading her down the aisle)/ both brides/ both grooms coming down the aisle
- Front shot of bride(s)/ groom(s) and behind shot of veil as bride walks
- Giving away of bride(s)/groom(s)
- Hymns/ songs
- Exchanging of rings
- First kiss
- Signing of register
- Witnesses signing the register (you’re not actually allowed to photograph the official document but you can pretend to sign a page and have a picture of that).
- Recessional (newlyweds walking back down the aisle)
- Confetti shot outside venue
Wedding Transport Photo Checklist
If the wedding reception is in a different venue to the ceremony and fun transport (think wedding Route Masters or vintage style buses) has been laid on for the guests remember to tell your photographer to capture your guests traveling in style.
Also, if you’ve got special transport for yourselves like a Rolls Royce or a horse and carriage, tell your photographer before the big day, as the transport shots can be some of the most artistic and stunning shots of a wedding!
Wedding Reception Venue Photo Checklist
- Outside of the wedding reception (as well as any personalised signs guiding guests to entrance)
- Interior of wedding reception room/s
- Table settings before guests arrive
- Decor, like the table plan, bunting, giant light up letters etc
- The floral centrepieces
- The top table
- Close-up of place cards
- Close-up of menu
- Wedding cake
- Dessert/ sweet table
- Stage or dance floor area
Wedding Reception Photo Checklist
- Any live entertainment like a string quartet/ pianist/ magician
- Newlyweds entrance
- The receiving line
- Guests mingling at pre-reception drinks
- Close-up of canapés and drinks
- Guests sitting down at tables
- Close-up of all the different courses of the meal
- Top table with newlyweds and parents sitting at it
- General shots of the room filled with guests
- Speeches – each individual speechmaker
- Reactions of guests and newlyweds to funny/ emotional words
- Cutting the cake
- Bouquet toss
- Band or DJ
- First dance
- Parent-child dances
- Guests dancing
- Last dance
- Just married’ car
- Newlyweds leaving reception (if they are going before other guests)
- End of the night (if there are fireworks or a sparkler send off)
Formal Portraits Photo Checklist
You don’t want to spend all day posing for endless formal shots when there are drinks to be had and so much celebrating to do, so think carefully about how many of these shots are essential to you.
If you’re after more of a reportage style photography, you may want to cut these right back and ask your photographer to concentrate on capturing all the guests mixing and mingling naturally.
t’s important to get a few posed shots though, as they are perfect for the mantelpiece and older generations, like grandparents, still love a nice formal portrait from the day.
This list is based on a classic wedding set-up with both sets of parents together and grandparents still present and with a bride and groom as newlyweds, so remember to make changes to the list based on whether your parents are divorced, you have step-parents, if you’re a same-sex couple, or if you have children of your own.
Also, make sure to think about where you’d like these formal pictures to take place. If your ceremony venue has a particularly stunning backdrop, you may want to do these pictures before you leave for the reception. Or perhaps there’s a beauty spot nearby that you want as your backdrop. Talk to your photographer and work out the logistics of getting the perfect backdrop for these special shots.
- Bride(s) on her (their) own
- Groom(s) on his (their) own
- Bride(s) and groom(s) in various settings/ poses
- Bride(s) and bridesmaids
- Groom(s) and groomsmen
- Bride, groom and bridesmaids or brides and bridesmaids
- Bride, groom and groomsmen or grooms and groomsmen
- Bride(s), groom(s), bridesmaids and groomsmen
- Bride(s) and maid(s) of honour
- Groom(s) and best man / men
- Bride(s) and groom(s) with flower girls and page boys
- Bride(s) and groom(s) with pet (if they have included one)
- Bride, groom (or other bride) and bride’s parents
- Bride(s) and her parents
- Bride(s) and her mother
- Bride(s) and her father
- Groom, Bride (or other groom) and groom’s parents
- Groom(s) and his parents
- Groom(s) and his mother
- Groom(s) and his father
- Bride, groom (or other bride) and bride’s sibling(s)
- Bride(s) and sibling(s)
- Bride, groom (or other bride), bride’s parents and her sibling(s)
- Groom, bride (or other groom) and groom’s sibling(s)
- Groom(s) and groom’s sibling(s)
- Groom, bride (or other groom), groom’s parents and groom’s sibling(s)
- Bride(s), groom(s), both sets of parents and both sets of siblings
- Bride, groom (or other bride) and bride’s grandparents
- Bride(s) and her grandparents
- Groom, bride (or other groom) and groom’s grandparents
- Groom(s) and his grandparents
- Bride, groom (or other bride), bride’s parents and bride’s grandparents
- Groom, bride (or other groom), groom’s parents and grooms’s grandparents
- Bride, groom (or other bride), bride’s siblings, bride’s parents, bride’s grandparents
- Groom, bride (or other groom), groom’s siblings, grooms’s parents and grooms’s grandparents
- Entire family shot of each side of family (incl. cousins and aunties and uncles) with newlyweds
- Group shot of all guests with newlyweds at the front
If you have any friendship groups you’re particularly keen to have a picture with, make sure to add them to the checklist of formal portraits, and speak to your photographer beforehand, as they won’t know instinctively which friends are more important to capture than others!
Download Our Free Photo Checklist
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