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Ultimate Wedding Photography Sample Shot List

In today’s blog we are going to talk about something very important to the organization and flow of a wedding day, the actual list of photos you will likely take on the wedding day!  Today, alongside some sage advice, we will give you a wedding photography sample shot list to share with your clients.

Its the dreaded question and how many times have you heard it in your career?

Bride
Can I give you a list of photos to shoot on the wedding day?

Far too often we, as photographers, end up with clients who either with good intentions or because of micromanaging tendencies, want to dictate the photos you take on the wedding day.  Not only is this a bad idea, it totally sets the wrong TONE for the wedding day.  Allowing a bride to dictate your shot list gives some indication that you, as the professional, are NOT in control and that is NOT how you want to start off any wedding.

Instead of fighting these brides, work WITH them.  Present them with a detailed wedding shot list, during the planning process, and allow them to edit, or add to the list at will.

Now, we will share with you, the golden ticket of wedding photography shot lists.  This is a list that was tested and true, added to and subtracted from over the years.  At the bottom of this list, we also included a statement to our brides that read like this:

“This is just a sampling of the important images that we will craft to tell the story of your wedding day.  This is NOT a guarantee that we will take every one of these photos but more a guide for you to begin to understand how in depth our process is.  On the last page we have left a few blanks.  We hope that you will fill in the blanks with any special or specific shots that you need.  Things to include in this area would be:

  • 4 Generations of women on my Mom’s side will be at the reception, please get a photo of this.
  • My bridesmaids will be signing the soles of my shoes for good luck.
  • I am wearing my mother’s veil.
  • My grandmother’s hankie will be used around my bouquet.
  • My husband’s wedding band has my fingerprint imprinted on the inside of it.

THE only Wedding Shot List you will ever need:

GETTING READY Wedding Shot List:

Bride:

  • Hair /Makeup Shots, including brushes, the makeup artist in action, close ups of things like eyelashes, lips, smiling bride, mimosas, etc.
  • Bridesmaids “getting ready” laughing together
  • Bridesmaid and bride in special robes, shirts etc.
  • All of bride’s necessities before she puts them on: shoes, lacy dainties (if appropriate or unique), dress, veil, jewelry etc.
  • Bride’s dress with bridesmaid dresses in unique situations.
  • Any special bride items like monogrammed, handkercheif, family bible, etc.
  • Bride getting dressed (we usually had the bridesmaids in their dresses prior to this.
  • Maid of honor or mother zipping / lacing the dress.
  • Mother of the Bride placing the veil, kissing bride.
  • All bridesmaids admiring bride.

Groom:

  • Groom and groomsmen having fun, goofing off before getting ready (if they golf, play cards, etc, capture the anticipation.
  • Groom’s important items: suit hanging, tie or bow tie, shoes, cuff links, any monogrammed items like tie tac or flask.
  • Groom shaving and completing hair preparation.
  • Groom getting dressed
  • Groom shining shoes
  • Groom and groomsmen putting on vests, ties and tying for each other.
  • Groom with father tying tie or bow tie
  • Groom with groomsmen hanging out in hotel room

Pre-Wedding: (Now this is where we can go TRACK A which is traditional and no one sees each other before the ceremony or TRACK B where there is a first look.  We much preferred TRACK B as it made everyone more comfortable!)

TRACK A: (Traditional with Bride and Groom NOT seeing each other prior to ceremony)

PreWedding Bride:

  • Bride with Bridesmaids, each individually (usually only done quickly one after another and in both 3/4 and full length, a “smile pose” and a “fun” pose like sorority symbol etc)
  • Bride with Bridesmaids – groups
  • Bride /Bridesmaids closeups of dresses, perspective of shoes, and bouquets
  • Bride with flower girls.
  • Bride with any other attendents like guestbook etc.

Bride with First Look with Parents / Dad.

  • Dad’s reaction
  • Mom reaction
  • Mom and Dad embracing daughter

Bride with Parents:

  • Bride with mom, smilng and her kissing mom
  • Bride with Dad, smiling and him kissing bride on cheek
  • Bride with both parents
  • Bride with siblings (individually, with their significant others in a family group, and together.)
  • Bride with parents and siblings.
  • Bride with parents, siblings, children and married ins. (we avoided any “boyfriend, girlfriend” in this photo unless specifically requested.)
  • Bride with Grandparents (if any)
  • Bride with Grandparent and their respective child (3 generations)

Bride ALONE: (This is SO important!  Take 5 minutes and get a few shots of the bride on her own.  Mom will thank you for it!)

  • Bride closeup of face /hair/ veil (add an artistic pics of bride with flowers, eyes only, looking down are her, her staring up at you.
  • Bride waist up – shows of the details of her dress, from front and behind with light shining through
  • Bride 3/4 – we usually did this with her staring in to flowers or artistically off into light… makes her look like the little angel her mother remembers! Front and back.
  • Bride full length front, side and back.

PreWedding Groom:

  • Groom with Groomsmen, each individually (usually only done quickly one after another and in both 3/4 and full length, a “smile pose” and a “fun” pose like sunglasses, frat symbol etc)
  • Groom with Groomsmen & Ushers – groups
  • Groom /Groomsmen closeups of txues or suits, ties, cufflinks, perspective of shoes, and boutenierres
  • Groom with ring bearers.
  • Groom with any other attendents or ushers

Groom with Parents:

  • Groom with mom, traditional smiling and her kissing him on cheek
  • Groom with Dad, shaking dad’s hand and smiling at camera
  • Groom with both parents
  • Groom with siblings (individually, with their significant others in a family group, and together.)
  • Groom with parents and siblings.
  • Groom with parents, siblings, children and married ins. (we avoided any “boyfriend, girlfriend” in this photo unless specifically requested.)
  • Groom with Grandparents (if any)
  • Groom with Grandparent and their respective child (3 generations)

Groom ALONE: (This is important!  Take 5 minutes and get a few shots of the groom on his own.  Mom will thank you for it!)

  • Groom closeup of face both smiling and serious
  • Groom waist up
  • Groom 3/4 – often crouched in the “senior squat”
  • Groom full length front, side and back.

Pre-Wedding Anticipation

  • Both sides heading to church or ceremony in limo or respective transportation.
  • Anxious preparations
  • Bride looking out window
  • Final prep for wedding ceremony, fixing bride’s hair, veil, makeup, prayers.
  • Groomsmen in huddle

Ceremony:

  • Guestbook attendants
  • Program attendants
  • Groomsmen with minister in minutes before
  • Grandparents seated
  • Parent Seated
  • Grooms party enters
  • Bridal party down the aisle
  • Flower girls and ring bearers
  • Bride down the aisle
  • Groom’s reaction to bride (this has become a HUGE ordeal in the past years)
  • Standard Ceremony items: readings, prayers, unity candle/sand, rings, vows
  • THE KISS!
  • Pronouncement of Marriage
  • Recessional ( We always made sure to get many sheer joy photos of the bride and groom receeding!)
  • Exit from the ceremony (bubbles, rice, antique car, carriage, etc.)

Post Wedding:

  • Full Family groupings with bride and groom combined
  • Extended Family groupings with bride and groom combined
  • Girls and Guys respectively in traditional formation at the ceremony location or church
  • Combined Wedding Party at Church (3-5 shots of this is fine)
  • Wedding Party combined in FUN ways and pictures they actually will use in their book!

Couple:

100+ creative shots of the couple in a variety of poses, smiling, kissing, in action, sexy poses, make sure to get a variety of styles, locations and crops, full length, scenic, close up, 3/4 etc.  This is where your style as a photographer shines and by far some of the most important shots of the day.  Do your thing!  No pressure!

Reception Details:

  • Floral designs on tables etc.
  • Candles and any personalized decor
  • Cake & Groom’s cake
  • Tables and Decor- Many crops and angles of plating, napkins, name cards, etc.
  • Shot of the room well lit before people mess up tables (if possible)

Reception:

  • Announcement of Bridal Party
  • Prayer over dinner
  • Parents of Bride and Groom with THEIR friends (we always offered this to the parents and they LOVED it)
  • Any large family or friend groupings like sorority, fraternity
  • Any special friend groupings (We always asked the bride and groom as they rotated around the room to flag us down if they needed us to take a pic of their college roommates, childhood friends, work colleagues, etc.)
  • Dinner details, plating, buffet prior to serving
  • Bar and tenders and any personal details there
  • Bride and Groom First Dance
  • Father Daughter Dance
  • Mother Son Dance
  • Generations Dance
  • Fun Dances
  • Toasts
  • Bouquet Toss
  • Garter Toss
  • Exit from Reception

TRACK B: (Modern with a FIRST LOOK for Bride and Groom)

When we did a first look we rearranged and did a set of First Look photos, then had the families meet us after we did ALL of the bridal party photos and we ran through family photos and COUPLE photos mostly before the reception.  This ensured that the bride and groom had MUCH less time delay going into their reception.

PreWedding Bride:

  • Bride with Bridesmaids, each individually (usually only done quickly one after another and in both 3/4 and full length, a “smile pose” and a “fun” pose like sorority symbol etc)
  • Bride with Bridesmaids – groups
  • Bride /Bridesmaids closeups of dresses, perspective of shoes, and bouquets
  • Bride with flower girls.
  • Bride with any other attendents like guestbook etc.

Bride with First Look with Parents / Dad.

  • Dad’s reaction
  • Mom reaction
  • Mom and Dad embracing daughter

Bride ALONE: (This is SO important!  Take 5 minutes and get a few shots of the bride on her own.  Mom will thank you for it!)

  • Bride closeup of face /hair/ veil (add an artistic pics of bride with flowers, eyes only, looking down are her, her staring up at you.
  • Bride waist up – shows of the details of her dress, from front and behind with light shining through
  • Bride 3/4 – we usually did this with her staring in to flowers or artistically off into light… makes her look like the little angel her mother remembers! Front and back.
  • Bride full length front, side and back.

PreWedding Groom:

  • Groom with Groomsmen, each individually (usually only done quickly one after another and in both 3/4 and full length, a “smile pose” and a “fun” pose like sunglasses, frat symbol etc)
  • Groom with Groomsmen & Ushers – groups
  • Groom /Groomsmen closeups of txues or suits, ties, cufflinks, perspective of shoes, and boutenierres
  • Groom with ring bearers.
  • Groom with any other attendents or ushers

Groom ALONE: (This is important!  Take 5 minutes and get a few shots of the groom on his own.  Mom will thank you for it!)

  • Groom closeup of face both smiling and serious
  • Groom waist up
  • Groom 3/4 – often crouched in the “senior squat”
  • Groom full length front, side and back.

First Look:

Setup a great lighting situation for the bride and groom to be alone and produce some really tender images!  Generally we had the groom stand with his back turned to the bride and depending on the size of her dress / ease of movement had one of the two turn around and look at the other/ walk toward.  During this time we were able to catch:

  • Laughter
  • Tears
  • Excitement
  • Embraces
  • Kisses
  • Rings
  • and more!

Couple:

100+ creative shots of the couple in a variety of poses, smiling, kissing, in action, sexy poses, make sure to get a variety of styles, locations and crops, full length, scenic, close up, 3/4 etc.  This is where your style as a photographer shines and by far some of the most important shots of the day.  Do your thing!  No pressure!  Also, when we did the photos BEFORE the ceremony we always made sure to ask the couple if they wanted their wedding rings ON!

Groom with Parents:

  • Groom with mom, traditional smiling and her kissing him on cheek
  • Groom with Dad, shaking dad’s hand and smiling at camera
  • Groom with both parents
  • Groom with siblings (individually, with their significant others in a family group, and together.)
  • Groom with parents and siblings.
  • Groom with parents, siblings, children and married ins. (we avoided any “boyfriend, girlfriend” in this photo unless specifically requested.)
  • Groom with Grandparents (if any)
  • Groom with Grandparent and their respective child (3 generations)

Bride with Parents:

  • Bride with mom, smilng and her kissing mom
  • Bride with Dad, smiling and him kissing bride on cheek
  • Bride with both parents
  • Bride with siblings (individually, with their significant others in a family group, and together.)
  • Bride with parents and siblings.
  • Bride with parents, siblings, children and married ins. (we avoided any “boyfriend, girlfriend” in this photo unless specifically requested.)
  • Bride with Grandparents (if any)
  • Bride with Grandparent and their respective child (3 generations)

Large Groupings:

  • Full Family groupings with bride and groom combined
  • Extended Family groupings with bride and groom combined
  • Girls and Guys respectively in traditional formation at the ceremony location or church
  • Combined Wedding Party at Church (3-5 shots of this is fine)
  • Wedding Party combined in FUN ways and pictures they actually will use in their book!

Pre-Wedding Anticipation

  • Both sides heading to church or ceremony in limo or respective transportation.
  • Anxious preparations
  • Bride looking out window
  • Final prep for wedding ceremony, fixing bride’s hair, veil, makeup, prayers.
  • Groomsmen in huddle

Ceremony:

  • Guestbook attendants
  • Program attendants
  • Groomsmen with minister in minutes before
  • Grandparents seated
  • Parent Seated
  • Grooms party enters
  • Bridal party down the aisle
  • Flower girls and ring bearers
  • Bride down the aisle
  • Groom’s reaction to bride (this has become a HUGE ordeal in the past years)
  • Standard Ceremony items: readings, prayers, unity candle/sand, rings, vows
  • THE KISS!
  • Pronouncement of Marriage
  • Recessional ( We always made sure to get many sheer joy photos of the bride and groom receeding!)
  • Exit from the ceremony (bubbles, rice, antique car, carriage, etc.)

Leftover / Cleanup:

  • Any family groupings that were missed or extended family that were not included in pre-ceremony photos.
  • Extended Family groupings with bride and groom combined
  • Any wedding party large groups that need to happen specifically at the ceremony location
  • Combined Wedding Party at Church (3-5 shots of this is fine)
  • Any formal family images that need to happen at ceremony location
  • A handful of couple pics at the altar

Couple Cleanup:

In the down time before the ceremony we always used our time to review our photos on the backs of the camera just to ensure that we had gotten everything we needed with family, wedding party and couple.  Afterward we would notice if there were not enough of a single type of shot, ring pics, etc then we would go back and add those in post ceremony.

Reception Details:

  • Floral designs on tables etc.
  • Candles and any personalized decor
  • Cake & Groom’s cake
  • Tables and Decor- Many crops and angles of plating, napkins, name cards, etc.
  • Shot of the room well lit before people mess up tables (if possible)

Reception:

  • Announcement of Bridal Party
  • Prayer over dinner
  • Parents of Bride and Groom with THEIR friends (we always offered this to the parents and they LOVED it)
  • Any large family or friend groupings like sorority, fraternity
  • Any special friend groupings (We always asked the bride and groom as they rotated around the room to flag us down if they needed us to take a pic of their college roommates, childhood friends, work colleagues, etc.)
  • Dinner details, plating, buffet prior to serving
  • Bar and tenders and any personal details there
  • Bride and Groom First Dance
  • Father Daughter Dance
  • Mother Son Dance
  • Generations Dance
  • Fun Dances
  • Toasts
  • Bouquet Toss
  • Garter Toss
  • Exit from Reception

Also, as a special time, we always took 10-15 minutes in the middle of the reception to do sunset or nighscape photos, most of the time no one even noticed we were gone!  But these were additional couple only photos that were less formal and more relaxed and FUN.  Things the bride would never have imagined doing BEFORE the ceremony she is HAPPY to do at this point!

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The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!
The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!