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Free Wedding Photography Shot List

Are you for real?! A Wedding Photography Shot List!! …but please hear us out.

This wedding photography shot list is aimed at someone who is just starting out in wedding photography.

It isn’t our intention to give you a photo shot list that you need to stick to 100%.

Rather it is more to give you an insight on what is likely to happen on a wedding day and what you might want to consider photographing.

Photographing a wedding can be a stressful time especially at the start as it is all new territory for you as a photographer.

You could just approach the day with no plan at all and that might work for some people.

However, in our opinion it is always best to have some sort of plan no matter what event you are photographing.

After a while this sort of wedding photography shot list will just become second nature to you and you should be able to rattle through a wedding with consummate ease.

If it’s the case that you are just starting out in wedding photography then you should consider our photography course.  Here at Smart we have a dedicated wedding photography module to help set you on a path to success.

wedding photography shot list for brides and grooms as well as photographers

Free Wedding Photography Shot List by Smart

Quick Links

Click to quickly jump/navigate to each section

wedding photography shot list idea confetti

Confetti Shot

Why do I need a wedding photography shot list?

So you photograph the wedding of your happy couple and it has all gone great.

You’re happy and they’re happy.

When you deliver the photos a few weeks later though you get the dreaded message from the couple.

‘Did you manage to get a shot of such and such? Did you get a photo of me and my friend that I shared a flat with for 1 year back in 2009’

This is where a wedding photography shot list can come in really useful for both the photographer and the couple.

Really what we recommend is that you ask the couple about specific group photos that they want. This way you can add these to your photo list and you’ll know once you’ve got them in the bag.

If it isn’t on the group shot list that you have discussed with your couple then there can’t be any come back on you that you didn’t get a particular photo.

The same can apply to specific shots that the couple want.

Lets say for example the bride wants a photo of a broach that has sentimental value. The bride might really want a photo of that but that needs to be communicated so you can add it to your list.

bouquets ready for a wedding

Wedding Flowers

Morning of the Wedding

The morning of a wedding day can go one of two ways.

A hectic mad, loud, stressful environment..

Or, on the other hand it can be a serene, chill atmosphere that makes you just want to stay there for the rest of the day.

To be honest it is more than likely to be a mixture of the two.

Going in to the wedding preparations with a wedding photography shot list can be a great idea.

It can help you focus on certain shots that you want to achieve depending on your particular style of photography.

Whilst at the same time embed a sort of method to the madness of preparations so that your wedding photography shot list just becomes second nature.

If there is two photographers preparations can be much more chilled as one can spend time with the bride whilst the other focuses on the groom.

Equally the groom tends to not be fussed about photos in the morning so you will generally find yourself turning up to bridal prep.

swing at a wedding venue

Make the ceremony location part of your wedding photography shot list

Bride Getting Ready

  • The brides make up and hair being done
  • The bride and bridesmaids getting ready
  • The mother of the bride helping the bride in to her dress (generally zipping, buttoning the dress at the back)
  • An emotional shot of the bride with her bridesmaids
  • Use mirrors to get creative shots of the bride getting ready
  • A reaction shot of the father of the bride seeing his daughter for the first time in her wedding dress
  • Capture a great shot of the bride with her parents that they can treasure forever
  • Show off the brides wonderful hairstyle
  • Adjusting the veil
  • A cheeky shot of the garter being put on by the bridesmaids
  • Grab a full length shot of the bride in her dress at the point her make up is perfect and dress is pristine
  • Bridal party toasting champagne and having a laugh together
  • Bride putting on her shoes
  • Bride holding her bouquet ready to leave for the ceremony
  • Bridal party leaving for the ceremony bonus points if they are walking down an elegant staircase
  • Shots of the father of the bride assisting the bride in to the wedding car or transport
  • Shot of the bride in the car with her dad
wedding rings held by bride

The Rings

Details at the brides

  • The brides shoes
  • The brides dress hanging up on a nice hanger and in a stunning location
  • Bridesmaids dresses all hung up next to each other
  • Names on hangers if they are there
  • Shots of the bouquets, buttonholes and corsages
  • Close up shot of the wedding garter
  • Champagne bottle and glasses
  • Show off the wedding invitation in all its glory
  • The bride jewellery such as hair pieces, earrings, trinkets etc
  • The rings against an interesting texture or background
  • Close up shots of the intricate detailing on the wedding dress
sunny outdoor wedding decor

Outdoor Reception Setup

Groom Getting Ready

  • Photograph the groom getting ready with his Dad and friends
  • Grab photos of touching moments between groom and parents (these can be few and far between)
  • Groom and best man laughing to each other
  • The groomsmen helping each other out with put buttonholes on/bow ties/ties
  • Dad whispering advice to the groom
  • Best man adjusting the groom outfit making sure he is looking in tip top condition
  • Shot of the best man holding the wedding rings (at the same time making sure he has them!)
  • Shots of groom and groomsmen walking to the wedding or walking to the wedding car


Group Photos to Consider Before the Ceremony

  • Bride with her parents
  • Bride with each individual parent
  • Bridesmaids shot
  • Bride with the bridesmaids
  • Maid of honor and the bride
  • The flower girls and the bride
  • Groom with his parents
  • Groom with each individual parent
  • Groomsmen shot
  • Groom with all the groomsmen
  • Best man with the groom
  • Groom with page boys/ring bearers


Adding a ‘first look’ to your wedding photography shot list?

This is a relatively new tradition more popular with the american wedding market. A first look gives the bride and groom the opportunity to see each other in private for the first time on their wedding day. This can result in some great emotional shots that they might otherwise attempt to hide in front of hundreds of their wedding guest. Whether a bride and groom has a first look is obviously down to personal preference but it can make for some lovely images and a more relaxed ceremony.

grooms shoes brides dress

Details of the Day

Before the Ceremony

The moments leading up to the Ceremony can be great opportunities to grab story telling photographs.

Often the Groom and his Groomsmen will be greeting guests and family members that they haven’t seen for a long time.

Therefore the photos almost create themselves as people hug, shake hands and have a laugh with each other.

  • Guests arriving at the ceremony location, shaking hands, hugging etc
  • Shot of the empty ceremony location, flower arches, flower arrangements etc
  • Ushers handing out the order of service
  • Ushers advising people where to sit
  • If the groom is looking nervous photograph him. The bride will love these sorts of photos
  • Families/Wedding party waiting at the end of the aisle for the bride
  • Bride arriving at the ceremony
  • Bridal party and bride stepping out of the car
  • Guests interacting with each other / having a laugh
  • Groom and best man handshake
  • The groom waiting nervously at the altar possibly sipping on his whisky (dutch courage)
  • Wedding décor such as, chair bows, tea lights etc


Something to consider:

Smart is the world’s leading online photography course offering in-depth training, mentoring and classes to creatives of any skill level. With modules focussed around the education of photography it is sure to help you on your way to becoming a better photographer. Smarts one to one mentoring programme puts you in touch with top wedding photographers whose industry knowledge is second to none. This wedding photography shot list is just one of many free articles that Smart offers it’s members.

Be sure to sign up to Smart today!

During the Ceremony

The Ceremony of a wedding is a BIG deal.

Really this is what the day is all about. You are going to get some truly great reactions from guests, family members and in particular the bride and groom.

Don’t stress! You have your wedding photography shot list and we’ve got you covered.

  • Groomsmen and bridesmaids walking down the aisle all dressed up
  • Ring bearers and flower girls walking down the aisle
  • Flower girl spreading flower petals (always guaranteed funny shots)
  • Bride and father of the bride walking down the aisle (keep snapping for glances at the groom)
  • Grooms reaction to seeing the bride walking down the aisle
  • Father of the bride giving the bride away
  • Close up over the shoulder shots of the vows
  • Bride and groom at the altar
  • Close up of ring exchange
  • Lighting of candles/important ceremony moments for their particular religion
  • Wide shot of ceremony location with bride and groom at the front
  • Photograph the audience and look for special displays of emotion
  • Entertainment such as singing or music playing
  • Readings and reactions of guests/bride and groom to the readings
  • The first kiss as man and wife
  • Photograph the bride and groom signing the register (if allowed by the officiant)
  • Any group shots with the witnesses to the marriage that the couple request
  • The bride and grooms exit of the ceremony venue
great wedding portrait shot

Cute Couple in Love

Post Ceremony

Once the Ceremony is all done and dusted the real party can finally start.

Everyone is a bit more relaxed as the stressful part of the day is generally over (except maybe for the people worrying about their speeches later in the day)

Now is a good time to kick on with some formal portraits (or group shots).

The time this takes really depends on a number of things.

We recommend that you speak to the couple leading up to the wedding and ask them to provide you with a list of formal portraits.

This way you can plan and allocate an amount of time to achieve all the photos on your wedding photography shot list.

It is also a great idea for the bride and groom to assign someone who can help you identify all the individuals required for the photos.

Post Ceremony is more than just about formal portraits though. People are generally having fun, congratulating people and letting their hair down.

  • Confetti (create a tunnel and have the bride and groom walk through it)
  • Hugs, kisses and congratulation shots
  • Bride and groom in the back seat of the wedding car
  • Bride showing off her ring to her guests
  • People drinking champagne/people chatting
  • Canapés
  • The couple alone for the first time


Suggested Important Groups

  • Bride and groom with brides parents
  • Both sets of parents with the bride and groom
  • Bride and groom with grooms parents
  • The happy couple with parents immediate family (both sides)
  • Bridesmaids with bride and groom
  • Groomsmen with bride and groom
  • Shot of the entire wedding party (look for somewhere high up to make this as easy as possible)
tipi wedding disco

Guests Dancing the Night Away


The couple will of spent long hours and lots of money deliberating over their reception decor so it’s important to do it justice.

At the same time you should spend too long photographing it as photos of people laughing and having fun are just as important.

Finding the balance between the two is the key here.

  • Details shots of the outside of the building (especially if it’s picturesque)
  • A shot of the empty room all set up looking wonderful
  • Reception details such as decorations, favors, flowers, centerpieces, sweet tables, guest books etc
  • Receiving line (another great photo op for hugs and kisses)
  • Bride and groom arriving at the reception, they will usually be announced and everyone will be clapping and cheering
  • The wedding cake (from various angles)
  • Bride and groom at head table
  • Toasts and speeches (if two photographers one can focus on top table whilst the other gets guest reactions)
  • Father of the brides speech
  • Grooms speech
  • Best man’s speech
  • Detail shots of the food being served
wedding couple sunset

Shoot in Golden Hour

Time for a second shoot with the couple?

Depending on the arrangements for the day there may be some time at golden hour to grab the couple for some more portraits.

The couple will generally be a lot more relaxed at this time of day especially if they have had a few drinks..

Lighting at golden hour will be much more flattering so it can be a great time to get some killer portraits for the bride and groom to hang on their mantel piece.

  • Cake cut
  • First dance
  • Father daughter dance
  • Groom dancing with his mother
  • General fun and games of guests at the wedding
  • Bride tossing the bouquet
  • Buffet
  • Sparkler shot (a tunnel similar to confetti works great)
  • Guests hitting the D-floor
  • Photograph of the get away vehicle
  • The bride and groom as they leave the venue
  • Ending shot of the venue lit up at night

To Conclude

We understand that it is actually quite unrealistic to capture all the photos above.

Your actual list doesn’t need to be as exhaustive as the one we have provided.

In all honesty if a couple sent you a list like this it would be quite down-heartening and a daunting prospect to capture all of these photos.

Weddings don’t always go to plan.

Say for example a bride has asked you to capture her mums reaction as she walks down the aisle.

You focus all you abilities in to nailing that shot but the mum isn’t really doing anything that amazing. Whilst at the same time the groom is crying his eyes out.

At that point you have a conflict of interest so it is best to advise your couples to give you a brief idea of what they want but not to go overboard with their requested shots.

This wedding photography shot list was designed to give you a detailed idea of the running order of the day. That way you can pre empt shots and sort of know what is going to happen and when.

Further Reading

  • All wedding photographers need to watch this video – Youtube
  • 101 wedding photography tips and tricks – Smart
  • What is wedding photography? – Wikipedia

Check out more photography related posts on our blog