20 Don't-Miss Wedding Day Shots

By Natasha Garber | Make Favorite

Photo: Akil Bennett

When you think about your wedding photos, you probably picture fabulous formal portraits of you, your groom and your families, dressed to the nines. You may also imagine that knockout image of you two as newlyweds, making your way back up the aisle, or the exuberant bouquet toss at the reception after the “I do’s.” And these are, indeed, classic wedding photo ops that should not be missed by your photographer. But what about the small glances, brilliant details and poignant moments of your wedding day? Miss your chance to get great photos of these, and you’ll have a visual document of your day that tells only part of the story. As a professional, your photographer is trained to know and capture all of the nuances necessary to keep your event alive and fresh in your mind for years to come. And these are the shots you want to make sure he or she gets, before they’re gone:

First Look.
One of the most memorable moments of an already momentous occasion, this emotion-packed photo is one no bride and groom should be without.

Hair & Makeup.
Behind the scenes is often a delightful scene unto itself. Let your photographer click away while you and your bridal party get made up, done up, dressed up and bustled up for the big day.

Dress Details.
There will be plenty of pictures of you in your gown, but be sure to capture the fine metallic embroidery on the bodice, the pearls woven into the train or the magnificent lace overlay of your skirt.

Bride’s Shoes.
Girls love their shoes! Be sure to document your fancy footwear, perhaps taking the opportunity to snap your wedding rings encircling the heel of your shimmering pumps.

Shoe Embellishments.
More shoe photos? Absolutely. If your bridal peep-toes have custom Swarovski-crystal flowers or sumptuous satin bows, aren’t those precisely the kinds of details you want to document?  

Bride & Dad.
This is the time to catch the emotional side of Dad—after all, his little girl is getting married. Find time for a quiet moment with him, and let your photographer linger discreetly nearby, snapping a few precious shots.

Flower Girl/Ring Bearer.
Images such as these are always sweet because young kids grow up so fast—and tend to be so spontaneous and adorable on the wedding day.

Bride/Groom with Extended Family.
This photo should be executed for the bride’s and groom’s families separately, followed by the happy couple with each family. “I think group shots of the entire family are vital,” says photographer Joe Cogliandro. “It’s capturing everyone together for historical purposes. Since you may never have all of these people together in the same place again, take advantage.” 

Groom & Mom.
He’ll always be her little boy, so this is one pleasure she should not be denied.

Bride/Groom with Parents.
A portrait of you with your parents and your significant other with his is an image that will endure for years to come. 

Bride/Groom with Siblings.
Whether you’re close, or not as tight-knit as you’d like to be, a portrait with siblings will mean a lot to Mom. 

Bridal Party.
These are your closest friends and family members, so of course you want photos with them. Leave time for at least one traditional and one unique shot (think: offbeat locations, making funny faces, the groomsmen carrying the bride, etc.).

Bride’s Processional.
Depending on the type of wedding and where it is held, this shot may be a bit tricky. “In Texas, many churches do not allow photography during the ceremony,” explains David Jones of D. Jones Photography. “We can get in to shoot for about 20 minutes afterwards, so we have learned to be efficient and follow their rules.” 

Cultural Keystones.
Depending on the culture or religion, there might be an exchange of rings, the toss of a bouquet or garter, the covering of the bride’s head with a sari, the slipping on of a necklace, or the lighting of an oil lamp. Make sure to capture these unique rites and rituals.

First Kiss.
Sharing the moment after being pronounced husband and wife happens only once. A photo that takes you back to that feeling is priceless.

Altar Exit.
“Getting the bride and groom coming back down the aisle together is a very important shot,” photographer Adam Nyholt says. The elation and happiness of the moment are always evident in the couple’s expressions.

First Dance.
During this heartfelt, unpracticed performance, “I can capture truly candid and sweet moments between the bride and groom,” says photographer Steve Lee. “At this time, they tend to really show their emotions.”

Father/Daughter & Mother/Son Dance.
This shot provides yet another glimpse at profound emotion, and is a lovely moment of connection between generations.

The Cake.
Typically photographers go for photos of the cutting of the cake. That’s great, but don’t overlook the cake itself. Many are intricate pieces of art and should be remembered as such, with shots of both the entire cake, and its many fine details. 

Reception Signage.
A great way to open or close an album, attention-grabbing signage sets the tone for a book of beautiful photos.

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