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Wedding Photography Checklist: The 10 Shots You Must Capture

We searched through the endless lists of the most sought after poses and wedding moments photographers are asked to capture at weddings. The list included more than 70 requested moments. While these lists can be used as a great reference, especially for photographers who are just starting out, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and let these requests dictate the creative direction of the day.

At the same time, there are definitely shots that simply can’t be missed. Imagine missing that priceless moment of the bride walking down the aisle or the first kiss only because your gear wasn’t working or because you were standing in a bad spot? Luckily, with some planning, these shots are easy to capture. This is why we’ve put together the most requested moments from hundreds of happy couples. Knowing this wedding photography checklist ahead of time will allow you the confidence to spend the rest of the event capturing more creative shots. On top of that, the result will exceed your clients’ expectations and create a unique style for your photography website.

Here is a list of 10 classic wedding moments, ordered according to the usual flow of a wedding ceremony.

  1. The “getting ready” shots of the bride and groom

  2. The dress

  3. The bride with her bridesmaids (& groom with his groomsmen)

  4. Bride walking down the aisle

  5. The kiss

  6. Couple shots

  7. Family shots

  8. It’s all in the details

  9. The first dance

  10. The party

01. The “getting ready” shots of the bride and groom

This event sets the tone for the day. It’s important to bring calm, positive, and confident energy to the room, especially since it’s the first hour that you’ll be working together. Simply show your calm assurance and the bride and groom will feel more relaxed. Most of the time, this portion of the day will take place in a hotel room full of bridesmaids and parents. There’s a lot of special shots to take here, including photos of the bride getting ready, her accessories, and cute photos of the bride having fun with her trusted bridesmaids. While you are with the bride, your second shooter can be with the groom capturing his getting ready moments. These pictures are especially pleasant for the couple to look at after the wedding. It will allow the couple to show each other’s morning to each other and all the excitement they felt while getting ready for the first day of their new life together.

Bride getting ready for the wedding by Wix Photographer Artway Studio
Photo by Wix Photographer Artway Studio

02. The dress

Of all the details, the dress is the one to focus on capturing beautifully. The best time to shoot the dress is while the bride is getting ready. A lot of times, hanging the dress from a fine window in the hotel room is a nice way to capture the uniqueness of the gown and the emotions it embodies. Look around the room and even outside: some of the best shots are of dresses hanging from surprising spots like mirrors or even a tree!

Wedding dress hung on a tree by Wix photographer David Rochas
Photo by Wix photographer David Rochas

03. The bride with her bridesmaids (& groom with his groomsmen)

Who said that marriage meant the end of friendship? Before the ceremony, make sure you’ve captured the bride and groom with their buddies. There are many ways to make these photos full of laughter and fun – or elegant and glamourous. The challenge is to do it without the photo looking too posed! One trick for amazing group photos is to have the bride or groom stand with their friends in a row like they are posing for a photo. Then, stand far in front of them and ask them to walk towards you while they joke around and make each other laugh. Encourage the joking by engaging with the group and repeat this a few times until you get some great shots… Works every time!

Groom having fun with best men by Wix photographer O'Ryan Empire
Photo by Wix photographer O’Ryan Empire

04. Bride walking down the aisle

Between dark churches or outdoor weddings with blinding mid-day light, this is an important shot to make sure to set up for. Your second shooter can take care of photos of the groom standing on the altar while you stand at the end of the aisle as the bride walks towards you. Of all the moments to capture, this one and “The Kiss” are the two that go by the fastest and can’t be re-done. So start setting up before-hand, get all your lenses ready, your back-up camera on you, and your lighting figured out so that you are ready to shoot. You got this.

Bride walking down the aisle with her father by Wix Photographer Time and You
Photo by Wix Photographer Time and You

05. The kiss

This is easily considered the most cherished shot of the day. And you only get about 3 seconds to capture it! If you position yourself at the end of the aisle with a buttery 50mm lens while your second shooter aims for the same shots from afar with a zoom lens, that is a winning combo. Remember: have your lighting figured out, back-up your gear, double check your batteries, and be in position for a great shot. You’ll then be able to capture what is truly the most significant seconds of your clients’ day.

Beautiful wedding kiss by Wix Photographer Alan Fresnel
Photo by Wix Photographer Alan Fresnel

06. Couple shots

After the vows is a great time to sneak the couple away from the crowd. They are radiating with love and the moments of them together are full of raw emotion. Guide them gently into poses that are natural and then just let their chemistry be your inspiration for each shot. This is also the best lighting of the day if it’s planned around sunset: the glow from the sun going down creates truly magical photos.

Photo of Couple after Wedding by Wix Photographer Wey Nguyen
Photo by Wix Photographer Wey Nguyen

07. Family shots

These photos often require the most patience and coordination. After the ceremony, grab all the parents, grandparents, cousins and everybody who’s anybody in the family. Plan ahead how many different combinations of group shots you’ll take pics of. It’s a good idea to collaborate with your clients before the wedding by asking for a list of all the different groups, and all the people’s names in each one of them that need to be photographed. Print out this list beforehand and then you can just start at group 1, call all the names, arrange the family in a beautiful way, and snap a handful of photos before moving to the next group. Here’s a pro tip: quickly flip through each group’s photos before letting them disperse to make sure you have a photo where everyone’s eyes are open.

Family Photo after wedding by Wix photographer Windau Photography
Photo by Wix photographer Windau Photography

08. It's all in the details

Throughout the day, jump at the chance to photograph details. Most of the brides simply adore them: rings, flowers, shoes, jewelry, table settings, outside decorations, food, cocktails, wide shots of the location, and everything unique and beautiful. What’s more, details are great for attracting new clients to your photography website when they are searching for ideas for their own wedding. Lastly, if you submit your photographs to wedding magazines and blogs, you raise your chances of being published since these outlets are obsessed with detail shots.

Wedding flowers by Wix photographer Frederick Lejeune
Photo by Wix photographer Frederick Lejeune

09. The first dance

A beautiful 35mm lens and good flash lighting are a great way to capture the bride and groom’s first dance. Jump on the dance floor with them and shoot into the spotlights with the couple diffusing the rays of light, the same way you would if you were shooting into the sun, for a beautiful lighting effect.

Wedding Couple Dance By Wix Photographer Emily Olivia
Photo by Wix Photographer Emily Olivia

10. The party

This is the time to let loose and enjoy capturing the spontaneous fun of the dance floor. There is no pressure for any particular shot and everyone is having a blast so the moments come naturally. A 35mm lens with a 1.2 or 1.4 aperture and a good flash are a wonderful combination for capturing the flooding energy.

Got these 10 precious moments saved in your camera? At this point, you can feel the reward of your hard work and enjoy knowing that the day went by smoothly. With planning and organization, the fast pace of your next event will be even more comfortable since you’ll know what you need to capture. This ease and sense of confidence will allow your creativity to flow ensuring you capture all those perfect moments.

Crazy wedding party by Wix Photographer David Stephen
Photo by Wix Photographer David Stephen

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