Our wedding photographs are some of the most significant photos we’ll ever pose for. We turn them into photo albums, share them with loved ones, and frame them for display in our homes. They’re viewed lovingly—a constant reminder of a day that begins a new chapter of our lives.
With so much significance comes some degree of pressure. Your wedding photos don’t need to be perfect, and in fact, the candid ones are often the sweetest. To help everything go smoothly, we’re big fans of creating a wedding photography checklist.
Why Have A Wedding Photography Checklist?
Wedding planning involves a lot of lists, but we think this is one that’s worth it.
With a wedding photography checklist, both you and your photographer will be on the same page. You’ll make sure that every special moment is captured. The list helps you plan ahead so you don’t forget anything, and your photographer can use it as a practical shot list on the day.
There’s another bonus to a wedding photo checklist. With your shots planned in advance, you can relax on your wedding day. You won’t need to think about asking someone to snap a photo, because you and your photographer are both prepared.
Don’t have a photographer yet? You might just find the perfect wedding photographer through our vendor spotlight.
Your Wedding Photography Checklist
Not sure where to start with creating a list of must-have wedding photos? You’re in luck, as we’ve pulled together a list of highlights from before, during, and after your ceremony. You could share this checklist with your photographer to help with their set-up or use it as a starting point for your own version.
Here are our top suggestions for which moments you’ll want your wedding photographer to capture.
Before the Wedding
We’ve all seen those iconic photos of a bride getting ready, surrounded by her bridal party. Or the shots of the best man adjusting a groom’s tie. These “getting ready” photos capture the excitement and nervousness in a beautiful way.
Here are some ideas for gorgeous before-the-ceremony photos.
Dresses and Suits
You’ll likely only wear your wedding dress or suit on this one day, but you’ll want the memories forever. Now’s also a great time to capture the details of your wedding party’s outfits.
- Wedding dress on a hanger
- Wedding suit laid out
- Close ups and details of your outfits
- Bridesmaids dresses, including a group photo
- Groomsmen in their suits, including a group photo
You’ll want your photographer right with you as you get ready for your wedding. These photos are often some of the most poignant—and it’s always fun for your partner to get a glimpse into the moments they didn’t see.
Popular photos include:
- Hair styling and the finished result
- Makeup application for the bridal party
- Your maid of honor helping you into your wedding dress
- Your groomsmen helping with your tie, cufflinks, or boutonniere
- Candid ‘getting ready’ photos and reactions
You want to capture your loved one’s reactions the first time they see you all dressed up in your wedding dress or suit. Those are the smiles, tears, and hugs you don’t want to forget.
First looks to capture:
- Parents seeing you in your wedding dress or suit
- Bridal party seeing you all dressed up together
- Groomsmen seeing you in your suit
- Your fiancé or fiancée, if you meet up before the ceremony
Your ceremony and reception will feel like a blur of moments, so now’s a great time for your photographer to capture detail shots like:
- Close-ups of what you’re wearing and your wedding party’s outfits
- Accessories like shoes, jewelry, cufflinks, and sentimental items
- Calm, candid moments between you and your loved ones as you get ready
During the Ceremony
You’ll definitely be preoccupied, so having a wedding photography checklist for the ceremony really helps your photographer capture every special moment. And there are plenty of them during your wedding ceremony.
Here are some not-to-be-missed moments you’ll want captured on camera.
Every wedding ceremony is different, but there are a few moments that you’ll want to look back on. Hand your photographer a schedule so they can capture highlights like:
- You and your partner standing before the officiant
- Your first looks (if you didn’t meet before the ceremony)
- Readings, speeches, and sermons
- Vow exchange
- Ring exchange
- Your first kiss as a married couple
Whether you enter the room alone or together, your processional provides countless photo opportunities.
Here’s some inspiration:
- Shots of the bride and/or groom walking in and walking down the aisle
- Close-ups of you and the wedding party
- Musicians or your band if there’s live music
- Reactions from your guests as you walk by
- Your ring bearer and flower girls if you have them
Posed photographs are beautiful and timeless, but it’s often the candid images that make us smile the most. Encourage your photographer to capture lots of reactions from your guests, including moments like:
- Laughs and smiles from family members and friends
- Guests watching the ceremony intently
- Reactions from you and your partner
- Hugs, kisses, and adorable interactions with your wedding party and guests
After the ceremony finishes, it’s time to move on to the next part of your celebration. Before you do, make sure your photographer captures your exit from the venue including:
- You and your husband/wife leaving the venue
- Your wedding party and guests making an exit
- Any planned moments that involve your guests, like bubbles or confetti
Formal Photos After the Ceremony
When the official ceremony concludes, most couples move on to formal posed photographs. Chances are you and your photographer have already discussed locations and who’ll be in group photos, so this mass photo-taking session is as smooth as possible on the day.
These will be your first styled photographs as a married couple, which makes them extra special. Ask your photographer to capture full-length and close-up photos, including:
- Embraces, smiles, and kisses
- Traditional posed-couple photographs
- Candid moments and shots of you walking to locations
- Close-ups of your hands and rings
- Photos of you set against a scenic backdrop or the venue
Group Shots and Family Photos
After your couple photos, it’s time to get friends and family involved. Give someone the responsibility of rounding everyone up so you can focus on enjoying the day. Then, pose for group photos with:
- Both sets of parents
- Parents and close family
- Extended family, including cousins
- Bridal party, groomsmen, and the entire wedding party
With formal photos out the way, it’s time for some candid goodness. Your wedding reception is the scene for lots of beautiful moments for your photographer to shoot, like toasts and your first dance together.
Toasts and Speeches
If you’re having toasts, speeches, or dedications at your reception, make sure your photographer knows to expect them.
Here are some great photo ideas for toasts:
- Close-up of the person toasting with a glass in their hand
- Raised glasses from your guests
- Guests laughing at speeches
- Hugs between you and your speech makers
Dancing and Games
Whether you have a disco or a more laid-back affair, chances are there’s some dancing involved.
Capture the mood with shots like:
- Your first dance with your new husband or wife
- Dances with your mother, father, or close family
- Guests enjoying themselves on the dance floor
- You and your guests playing games that you’ve laid out
- Guests and wedding party signing your guest book
Along with your first dance, if you’ve got other traditional moments planned it’s time to capture them on camera. These include:
- Bouquet toss
- Garter toss
- Cutting the cake
- Leaving in the “getaway car”
The reception is also a perfect place for your photographer to take photos of the venue, your decor, and themed items. With everyone busy enjoying themselves, they can style photos of your:
- Flowers, centerpieces, and bouquet
- Invitations, place cards, and ceremony cards
- Table decor and table settings
- Wedding cake, sweets table, and food and drink
- Themed elements like decor, flowers and plants, and fun and games
Wedding Photography Tips
Now that you’ve got an idea of which wedding photos you’d love captured, discuss it with your photographer. It’s best to meet with them a few times before your big day to finalize details. If you can, meet them at the venue, too, so you can both get a feel for lighting and locations.
Share your wedding photography checklist with your photographer. They’ll have some thoughts on extra wedding photo ideas, too. Just make sure they have a schedule of your wedding so they don’t miss a moment.
Your professional wedding photos will forever be a reminder of your celebration. And as there’s no such thing as too many wedding photos, why not get your guests involved? Ask guests to download the Joy app before your big day. That way, they can snap and upload photos to your gallery for everyone to enjoy. You’ll end up with a beautiful wedding album and plenty of candid photos, too.