The Ultimate Wedding Photography Checklist

A List of "Must Have" Wedding Photos

wedding photographer and newlywed couple
Wedding Photography - Must-Have Wedding Photos. (Getty Images)

One of the only things you'll have to look back on your wedding after the big day is your wedding photos. This is why so many couples place such an emphasis on finding the best wedding photographer to document their special day. Photos are the only thing that stand the test of time and are a visual reminder of the feelings and emotions you felt on your wedding day. There are so many important moments that make up a wedding day that it can be hard to keep up with, so how do you ensure your photographer captures them all?


One way to help clue your photographer in on exactly the photos you want is by giving him or her a list of "must-have" wedding photos. After working so hard on all the details of your day, you'll want to make sure your photographer captures them all on film to preserve forever! Check out this list of wedding photography must-have shots assembled below.

Note: Don't go overboard with set-directing your wedding day! You hired your professional photographer for a reason, so you want to let him or her feel free to take creative license and create shots that are uniquely yours! 

Wedding Photography Shots Before the Ceremony

___ Wedding dress lying over a chair or hung on a decorative hanger
___ Zipping up or buttoning the wedding dress
___ Mother of the bride putting on the bride's necklace
___ The bride's garter, veil, shoes, jewelry or other accessories
___ A close-up of the bride's shoes peeking out from under the dress
___ Single shots of the bride getting ready, looking in a mirror or out the window
___ Bride and bridesmaids putting on makeup or getting ready
___ Bride pinning corsage/boutonniere on mother/father
___ Mother/father handing bride bouquet 
___ Bride hugging parents
___ Bride touching up
___ Bride and parents leaving for ceremony
___ Single shots of the groom getting ready, looking in a mirror or out the window
___ Groom pinning corsage/boutonniere on mother/father
___ Groom hugging parents
___ Groom and groomsmen getting ready and hanging out together

Wedding Photography Shots At the Ceremony

___ Outside of ceremony site
___ Guests walking into ceremony site
___ Bride and father entering ceremony site
___ Parents being seated
___ Grandparents being seated
___ Maid of honor walking down the aisle
___ Bridesmaids walking down the aisle
___ Flower girl and ring bearer walking down aisle
___ Groom waiting for bride
___ Ceremony musicians
___ Officiant
___ Altar or canopy during ceremony
___ Close up of bride, just before she makes her entrance
___ Bride and father walking down aisle
___ Groom seeing bride for the first time
___ The back of bride and father walking down the aisle – with the groom waiting in the distance
___ Bride's father and Bride hugging at end of aisle
___ The unity ceremony
___ Close up of bride and groom saying the vows
___ Wide shot of bride and groom saying the vows
___ Exchanging the rings
___ Close-up of hands
___ The first kiss as husband and wife
___ Bride & Groom walking up the aisle
___ Receiving line
___ Bride & Groom outside on steps
___ Guests throwing confetti/rose petals/birdseed
___ Bride & Groom hugging guests, laughing, getting congratulations
___ Bride & Groom getting in car
___ Bride & Groom in back seat
Posed Wedding Photography Before the Reception

These can also be taken before the ceremony.

___ Bride alone (full length)
___ Bride with Maid of Honor
___ Bride with bridesmaids
___ Groom with bridesmaids
___ Bride with parents
___ Bride & Groom together
___ Bride & Groom with parents
___ Bride & Groom with families
___ Bride & Groom with entire wedding party
___ Bride & Groom with flower girl and ringbearer
___ Groom with parents
___ Groom with best man
___ Groom with groomsmen
___ Bride with groomsmen
During the Reception

To help your photographer, you may wish to list these shots in the order they will happen at your reception.

___ Outside of reception site
___ Bride & Groom arriving
___ Bride & Groom greeting guests
___ Table centerpieces
___ Table setting
___ Bride & Groom's table (head table)
___ Musicians or DJ
___ Guest book
___ Place card table
___ Closeup of bride and groom's place card
___ Wedding cake
___ Groom's cake
___ Gift table
___ Decorations and details
___ A shot of bride & groom with guests at each table
___ Bride with college alums
___ Groom with college alums
___ The buffet or, if having table service, a dinner serving
___ Bride & Groom's first dance
___ Bride & Father dancing
___ Groom & Mother dancing
___ Guests dancing
___ Bride & Groom cutting the cake
___ Bride & Groom feeding each other cake
___ Toasts 
___ Bride & Groom drinking champagne
___ Signing the marriage license
___ Bride throwing bouquet
___ Groom retrieving garter
___ Groom tossing garter
___ Garter/Bouquet dance
___ The getaway car
___ Bride & Groom leaving party
___ Bride & Groom driving away

Be sure to also give your photographer a list of important guests who may or may not be in the bridal party or immediate family.

Be sure to give him a seating chart so that these special guests can be identified.

Are there other shots you'd like to have? Add them to your list! Communicating with your photographer is key to making sure you're both happy with the end result of your wedding photos. 

Updated and edited in March 2016