Wedding photography is one of the most exciting photography types for all the right reasons – you get to witness the raw emotions, meet new people, experience the fun and frolic - all while reveling in the wedding festivities.
All is fun until you’ll likely feel the pressure to capture the special moments in your client’s day- because after all, it only happens once! Which is why you need to chart out a proper plan for wedding photography to stay prepared and organized. You want happy clients in the end – not ones who are disappointed just because you did not click the number of photographs they expected of you.
Whether you’re an experienced photographer looking for some new inspiration ahead of your next wedding photoshoot, or a budding photographer who is new to the world of wedding photography- we have you covered in this blog! We’ll go over everything that goes into a successful wedding shoot, including a sample shot list of must-have wedding photos at the end.
Table of Contents:
- How Many Photos Should You Take?
- 33 Wedding Photos That Should Be on Your Shot List
- Printable: The Ultimate Wedding Day Photo Checklist
How Many Photos Should You Take?
The number of photographs you need to capture on any given wedding day varies and depends on different factors:
Talk to the Client
Before you start with any planning, the one thing you need to do is set up a one-on-one meet or call with the client. This will help you understand what they want their wedding photography to look like – do they want elegant, extravagant, or simple? How many hours do they want you to stay? Most importantly, ask them about the number of photographs they would love their wedding album to feature.
Wedding photography isn’t just centred around the main event. Often you will find that clients will be interested in getting a taste of your work through some pre-wedding engagement shots.
These shoots are the perfect opportunity to not only help the couple to feel more comfortable in front of the camera before the wedding day, but to develop a photographer-client relationship.
Engagement shots also create lovely memories for the couples, which they might choose to use on their wedding invitations or to send to friends and family.
So if the couple is up for a pre-wedding photoshoot or an engagement day photoshoot, don't lose out on the golden opportunity. If not an exclusive photoshoot, you can ask the couple if they want to organize a small get-together amongst family, close friends – so that everyone gets well-acquainted with each other.
List Down the Must-Haves
As you are interacting with the client, also try to find out more about their family tree. You don't want to miss out on photographs with grandparents on either side or skip the one with their favorite aunt, uncle, or cousins. Having an idea of the family can help you understand which photographs you cannot afford to skip.
Use Your Creativity for the Key Shots
Weddings are all about the first kiss, the first look, the cheeky moments while exchanging vows, and hundreds of other blink-and-miss moments – and these are some of the most important shots that you need to capture. Find some inspiration on other platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram or Blogs.
Get creative here – you have all the freedom to capture a bunch of candid shots. The photographs of these little moments are what will make the entire album full of warm, funny, yet heartwarming memories of the wedding – so make sure you don't miss out on them! Note them all down so that it's easier to keep track during the wedding.
Capture Multiple Shots of One Scene
A single scene may look different from varied angles – and you don't want to miss out on the best one. The safest way out is to capture the same scene from multiple angles. However, don't forget about quality over quantity!
Extra photographs are always handy, rather than regretting not capturing enough pictures later. While you click photos, make sure you also stroke them off from the list of must-have shots you created earlier. You can also use our wedding photo checklist which you can find at the end of this article.
33 Wedding Photos That Should Be on Your Shot List
For a photographer who may have a number of weddings on the books there’s a lot to organise before the clients' big day. You have to preview the venue, meet the couple, organise equipment and schedule a timeline of the day. We didn't even talk about the post-wedding work involved such as editing the wedding photos afterwards – the list of things that go into wedding photography is endless (feel free to take a closer look at our 55 tips to improve your wedding photography).
So that you don't miss out on the critical aspects you need for your client to remember their big day, we have curated a wedding photos checklist. We're sure this will help take off at least one task on your mind – so do give it a read!
Pre-Ceremony Wedding Photos
A lot is happening before the wedding – the hustle-bustle right before the ceremony is something to watch out for. As the photographer make sure you capture all these little moments adding up to the wedding ceremony.
1. Shot of the Wedding Invitation
The couple picked the best designer in town to design their wedding invite – and now is the time to let the card steal the show! This is one tiny detail that might slip off your mind – so make sure you capture this one on the list of must-have shots!
2. The Bridal Shoes
Little details like the bride’s shoes are often easily missed. However, it’s these garments that complete the final look so be careful not to miss them off your list!
3. The Bride’s Dress
The dress elegantly laid down (or hung up), and the bride's crown placed beside it, along with jewelry – now isn't this something you don’t want to forget. Add it to the list of must-haves right away!
4. Close up of the Dress and Accessories
Wedding dresses are renowned for their intricate details, making them perfect subjects for up-close photographs. Whether that’s delicate lace or small, detailed buttons while the dress hangs up waiting to be worn.
Bouquets are symbolic and hold a lot of relevance to weddings. The bridal jewellery might include family heirlooms or thoughtful gifts such as brooches or bracelets. That's why close-up shots of the dress, veil, and other accessories are not something you can give a miss.
5. Wedding Ring Shots
Another tiny detail that may get left out in all the hustle – ensure you pack a macro lens for this shot. A good time to take this photo is when you first arrive on location.
6. Bride and Bridesmaids Dressing Up
The bride may have tried on her wedding dress multiple times in the fitting room before – but, the feeling of dressing up on the day of the wedding is unmatchable. And the same goes with the bridesmaids – they, too, are excited to dress up and, more importantly, see the bride in the wedding dress.
And believe us, these shots are so candid, so real that they have to be part of the wedding album. So whether it is the bridesmaid helping the bride put on the dress or adjusting the tiara, make sure your camera is ready with a full battery.
7. The Alone Moment
After the bride is all dressed up and decked to walk down the aisle, you will want to have a moment with her by yourself.
This moment will capture the exact feeling that someone who is going to get married goes through when they know their life is about to take a blissful turn in just some time from now. The jitters, the nervousness, yet the hint of excitement and happiness – that's indeed what you need to capture.
8. Grooms and Groomsmen Getting Ready
When the bride and her entourage can have their shots, why not go and cover what's happening on the other side? You can either do this yourself or leave this up to your assistant to capture while you focus on the bride.
The groom might be enjoying a pre-wedding beverage, practising their vows or fixing their tie. The groom and his men deserve just as much attention so make sure you don’t forget them and pay attention to little details like cufflinks and personalised handkerchiefs.
9. Shot of the Wedding Car
As a wedding photographer ensure you capture a moment of the bride seated in the car as well as while alighting the car. The moments right before the ceremony are something that are just as important during the actual event. Each moment helps tell a story.
The Wedding Ceremony Photos
Again, a lot is about to happen, and this part of the entire wedding has to be captured with utmost attention to detail – because here's where the magic happens!
10. Shot of the Empty Church, Décor, and Exteriors
For this, allow yourself some time to scout the venue well in advance. This will help understand the exact shots needed to capture on the day of the wedding. And there's something about empty churches/ venues, right? The church's interiors, the grand architecture, and the empty benches tell a tale – and that's indeed what you should focus on.
11. Guests Outside and Inside the Church
A wedding day is all family so you won't have the time to look around for the before-the-ceremony scenes. Plan in advance the type of family photos you will take. Are they going to be group shots in a particular area or will you focus more on a documentary style?
12. The Groom Awaiting the Bride
Capture the groomsmen talking amongst each other before the ceremony begins.Traditionally, the groomsmen will await the bride at the top of the aisle with the groom.
As the ceremony commences, there are bound to be some nervous and excited expressions upon the groom’s face. These are photos that can be cherished, so don’t forget to capture them on camera.
13. Bridesmaids and Flower Girls
Snap a photo of the bridesmaids and flower girls as they walk down the aisle with excitement and the flowers they might be holding as the room awaits the bride.
14. Bride Walking Down the Aisle
One of the most memorable moments in a bride's life is walking down the aisle with her father/parent. As a photographer you should be able to capture the entire walk down the aisle in a series of photographs.
15. Bride Being Given Away
Once the bride is at the altar, the moment of the parent giving the bride away to the groom, too, is a once-in-a-lifetime moment, with lots of feelings rushing in.
16. The First Look
Is there anything more emotional than the first look? At that moment, it's just the couple and their love for each other.
Let's be honest, capturing this moment in all its essence is something every photographer dreams of. Just ensure you have all your settings set beforehand, plus check you have a memory card and full battery.
17. Exchange of Vows
Not everyone sticks with the traditional vows, so if the couple have come up with unique vows (that includes the funny ones, too!), make sure the moment is captured. This is the most solemn part of the ceremony, so ensure you capture the 'I dos' right on camera.
18. Exchange of Rings
Whether the ring bearer is a cute pet, the best man or a family friend, photograph the ring bearer as they hand over the rings.
The exchanging of the rings is a momentous part of the ceremony - an intimate moment that seals the marriage.
19. The First Kiss
This is the 'yay' moment when the couple are relieved that the ceremony went well, and now they are hitched for life!
The first kiss as a married couple is special and has to be on the photographer's list of must-have shots. The moment after the kiss and the crowd's reaction to the kiss are some interesting shots you can include.
20. Guest Reactions
It might be a tear in the eye of the best man or a broad smile from the mother of the bride. Reactions to the marriage are priceless moments that the whole family can look back on.
21. Proceeding Down the Aisle
Happy faces everywhere as the couple proudly walk down the aisle. This exciting moment of 'yes we did it' is worthy of including in their wedding album, too.
22. Greeting Guests Outside the Venue
You won't have a lot of time for this, but the couple will indeed be beaming, glowing from marital bliss. Some heartwarming interactions and moments will be part of this, so ensure you are around to capture these moments.
23. Couple in the Back Seat of the Car
This is when you want the whole town to know that the couple’s 'Just Married!' Capturing their beaming faces is what your job is all about.
Post-Wedding Ceremony Photos
Once the ceremony is complete, it’s time for the party to begin! Here is your chance to snap some relaxing shots of everyone in attendance. Let's run you through some post-ceremony shots:
24. Portraits of the Couple
It's time to get creative here and take all the possible romantic, cheesy, simple, elegant, royal poses. Make sure you follow the couple as they’ll want some candid shots – nothing beats the vibe of candid moments!
25. Solo Portraits
Make use of the unique corners of the reception venue to capture the dreamy, beautiful solo portraits. Ask the bride to flaunt the dress and accessories in a way she couldn't at the ceremony. Poses range from elegant to crazy – it's totally up to them and your personal style!
26. With the Entourage
While you might have taken a few shots of the couple and their bridesmaids and groomsmen during the ceremony, there is now an opportunity to capture them in a more organised setting.
A couple of traditional, cheeky, and funny shots with them would add a fun element to the wedding album.
27. One With the Parents, Siblings and Close Family/Friends
Capture the happy couple with each of their parents both separately and together. These shots may get a bit emotional – we're giving you a heads up!
After all, for parents, they are always seeing their little kids suddenly watching them grow, get married, and set out to have families of their own is pretty overwhelming for them - and that's the exact emotion you get to capture here.
While the couple are getting shots with parents, don't leave the siblings out. Have a set of fun poses and photographs with the siblings, too!
Once they are done with the immediate family, it's now time to get snapped with the extended family – this also includes their closest friends, ones they have known for decades together.
28. All wedding guests with the bride and groom
What better memory to look back on than a group photograph of all of the wedding guests with the bride and groom? You might take this from a balcony looking down on them all, a drone, or gather everyone outside on the lawn for a joyful group picture.
29. Décor and other Details
Everything at the wedding – right from the table settings, center pieces, place cards, favors to the cake, cutlery, food being served, is an important aspect that will help tell the story of the day.
30. Cake Cutting
Along with details and close-up shots of the cake, make sure you are around to capture the moments when the couple cut the cake. This is often a lighthearted moment where you can capture some smiles and giggles on camera.
31. The First Dance
Another first, this one will be super special as the couple will be swaying in each other's arms for the first time as a married couple.
While the couple will be the prime focus, ensure you also have ample pictures of the parents and grandparents dancing, too.
Not forgetting the guests setting the dance floor on fire – they need just as much attention too! Some heartwarming memories to look up to, years later.
32. The Toasts
Toasts range from classic, formal to outrageously funny. Ensure you are around to capture the person who raises the toast, as well as the reactions of the couple and guests.
33. Guests Having Fun
Because somewhere down the line, when the coupole looks at their wedding album, you want to get them to remember that feel-good vibe all over again. And nothing, but guests having fun at their wedding, can help replicate that vibe. Have candid shots of guests chatting, eating, and drinking.
Now that you’ve read our list of favourite wedding photo ideas, it’s time to put them into practice!
Download the extended version of our wedding photography checklist including all the wedding photos you need to take.
Don’t forget to be true to your style and taste, and to use lighting and location to inspire your photographs. We can't wait to see your results!