Must-Have Wedding Shot List

By Carrie Skupinsky | Make Favorite

Photo: Ama Photograpgy & Cinema

Any photographer worth their salt will get the must-have shots you expect from your wedding… the decor, the moment you’re pronounced newlyweds, all the “firsts” (look, kiss, dance), and the posed portraits (including the “everyone do something fun” wedding party shot.)

However, if you’ve ever looked through vacation photos and felt like “the pictures didn’t do that trip justice,” what you probably mean is that they don’t capture how wonderful, relaxing or beautiful everything really felt to you. While the formula was correct, the essence of the trip was missing.

With a wedding, things can get even more complicated. With so many “obligatory” photos that have to be taken, it’s easy to focus on the to-do list of event coverage, but miss out on what made your day so special to you both. Your wedding photographer will want to work with you to create wedding photos that are meaningful to you, not just a Pinterest-worthy album of pretty wedding pics.

Use this essential shot list to ensure a collection of wedding photos that capture not just the look of your wedding, but the feel of the most personal occasion of your life.

1. The Unconventional Location Portrait

Yes, a shot of your gorgeous gown train flowing down the stairs of your wedding venue or church is timeless, and should be shot. But what else did you love about your venue? Was it the chandeliers? A spectacular set of windows? The beautiful landscaping or a bubbling fountain? Ask your photographer to brainstorm with you on one or two special spots in your venue, and let them serve as backdrops for a few fabulous photos of you and your beloved.

2. Personal Details

Does your bouquet feature a treasured heirloom brooch? Did you DIY a unique guestbook? Most photographers will take note of these things, but in the fast pace of the day, small details can be overlooked. If there are important decor elements you want shot, or a special ritual you’ll have during the day (a butterfly release, for example), let them know.

3. Pre-Wedding Emotions, Not Just Shoes

“Did you get them? Did you get my shoes? Did you get a photo of my shoes?” Trust us, your photographer has “shoes” next to “cufflinks” and “rings” on her list of must-have pre-ceremony shots. But what about those secret tears Mom or Dad wipes away as you get dressed? The groom’s face as he reads a love note you passed him before the ceremony? Let your photographer know that, yes, detail shots are important and lovely, but your family and friends are equally important, and make sure those unforgettable emotions are being discreetly snapped.

4. Your Soul Family

Your photographer likely will be able to identify your wedding party and parents. What about your favorite cousin, or your sorority sisters, or your mom’s bestie who you’ve always known as “Auntie?” If you want to share a moment with these special people in your life, point them out to your planner and photographer before the big day, so they know who’s who. A wedding is one of the few times in your life where all of these special people who mean so much to you will be together in one place—don’t squander the photo opp!

5. Secret Lovers

Be mindful of how many shots are being taken of you smooching, canoodling and gazing deeply into each other’s eyes. A candid shot of your head on his shoulder as you sneak a moment of, “Oh my goodness this is all really happening,” or a candid of you together, just before you make your grand reception entrance, as you squeeze each other’s hands with joy, are just as evocative of the romance of the day, without a full on lip-lock.

6. Partying In Style

Let’s face it, reception shots can be either the best or the worst. The photos don’t often have the “magic” that your shots from earlier in the day can hold; the lighting can be tricky, the hour grows late, and dancing shots can be legitimate forms of blackmail for some of your guests. But, the reception is also the most fun and memorable part of the day. How can your photos reflect that?

A few toasting shots are great, but set your glasses down now and again—you don’t want every photo to look like last call. The same goes for photo booth props or party accessories like glow sticks, masks, sunglasses or Mardi Gras beads; if you do have these fun items at your party, switch out or remove them after about 10 to 15 minutes so your reception photos stay timeless. You didn’t pony up for that couture wedding gown to accessorize it with a fuchsia feather boa all night.

Oh—and you’ll want someone on “oily face” and “party hair” patrol for both newlyweds so that you both stay photo-ready long into the night. Take advantage of those bathroom breaks to primp, blot and breathe. 

7. The End of The Affair

Sparkler gauntlet, check. Getaway car, check. But what about the wedding party giddily decorating the getaway car, or your guests’ shouts of joy at the surprise food truck, or Nana sneaking a second helping of wedding cake, or Mom and Dad sharing a victory smooch for a party well-thrown? Encourage your photographer to take the spotlight off you for awhile—often the most priceless photos of your guests come at the end of the evening, when everyone’s hair has been let down, and unbridled joy has been turned all the way up.

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