The Ultimate Wedding Photography Shot List

Published date: 16th August 2020 | Author: Hollie Bond

Make sure you capture every magical moment of your big day by following our list 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.

Even if you can’t think of specific pictures you want to capture right now, the wedding day itself will fly by, so you’ll need photos of all the tiny, yet incredible moments that combine to make it the best day of your lives, in case you forget any of them.

Make sure to meet and speak to your wedding photographer before the big day, so you can feel sure that they know a bit about you as a couple and which parts of the day you’re really excited about. The more information your photographer has about you and your day in advance, the more likely they are to snap every special, candid second of your day.

We’ve compiled a list of all the must-capture wedding photos, that you can give to your photographer, to ensure your wedding album is as perfect the big day itself.

Download Our Free Shot List Here


Fiona Kelly Key Wedding Moments Photography

The Wedding Album Photo Checklist

Before The Wedding

The Ultimate Wedding Photography Shot List Celebrant rings 1
  • 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

Photography by Captured by Katrina

  • Key decor details within 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(s) Getting Ready

The Ultimate Wedding Photography Shot List Wedding shoes 2
  • 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

Photography by Fiona Kelly Key Wedding Moments

  • 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)

Photography by Lee Scullion Photography

  • 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(s) Getting Ready

The Ultimate Wedding Photography Shot List Groomswear 3

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
  • Shoes
  • Accessories (cufflinks, watch, pocket square)
  • Groom(s) and groomsmen

Photography by Hannah K Photography and Sorriso Wedding Photography

  • 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

The Ultimate Wedding Photography Shot List First look stock 4

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

The Ultimate Wedding Photography Shot List affection bride bride and groom 5
  • 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!)

Photography by Fiona Kelly Key Wedding Moments

  • Groom or bride chatting to his best man/ her maid of honour
  • Groomsmen
  • Bridesmaids/ maid of honour arriving outside 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

Photography by Key Wedding Moments Fiona Kelly

  • Front shot of bride(s)/ groom(s) and behind shot of veil as bride walks
  • Giving away of bride(s)/groom(s)
  • Readings
  • Hymns/ songs
  • Vows
  • Exchanging of rings
  • First kiss

Photography by Fiona Kelly Key Wedding Moments

  • 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

Photography by Fiona Kelly Key Wedding Moments

Wedding Transport

The Ultimate Wedding Photography Shot List Wedding cars 6

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 travelling 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!

Photography by Fiona Kelly Key Wedding Moments

Wedding Reception Venue

The Ultimate Wedding Photography Shot List Close up table min 7
  • Outside of the wedding reception (as well as any personalised signs guiding guests to entrance)
  • Interior of wedding reception room/s

Photography by Captured by Katrina

  • 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

The Ultimate Wedding Photography Shot List Four people make a celebratory toast on a wedding day 8
  • 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
  • Toasts
  • Cutting the cake
  • Bouquet toss
  • Band or DJ
  • First dance
Camilla J Hards Wedding Photographer first dance

Photography by Camilla J Hards

  • 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 of Wedding Party

The Ultimate Wedding Photography Shot List Bridesmaids blush pink 9

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. It’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.

Photography by Key Wedding Moments Fiona Kelly

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

Photography by Key Wedding Moments Fiona Kelly

  • 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

Photography by Anneli Marinovich

  • 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

Photography by Sharon Cudworth

  • 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)

Photography by Sharon Cudworth

  • 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

Photography by Sharon Cudworth

  • 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 list 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 Shot List

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Written by

Hollie Bond

Hollie is a lifestyle journalist with over ten years’ experience working in the wedding industry as Lifestyle Editor for You & Your Wedding magazine Also a Regional Editor for Muddy Stilettos, Hollie has written for Square Meal magazine, Family History Monthly, BBC History magazine and Homes & Antiques. In her spare time you can find Hollie in a dance studio practising ballet…

Learn more about Hollie Bond