Huge List of Must-Have Wedding Photos

Worried that your wedding photographer will miss one or more of those precious wedding day moments? That’s what the must-have shot list is for! Now the easiest way to end up with perfect wedding photographs is to choose a wedding photographer with a beautiful portfolio and the references to back it up, but that amazing photog who just happened to have a cancellation making her available on your wedding day may not realize how important it is to you to get at least one photo of you with your 99-year-old great grandma or the dream photo of you and your divorced parents, each with their own families, in a single picture.

must-have wedding photos

That, brides and grooms, is why you need a list. Unless you’re working with a novice wedding photographer who has offered you a great deal (or even free pics), you shouldn’t need to micro-manage your photog. But checking out a must-have wedding photo list can help you figure out what your must-haves are. Maybe you’ve never thought about posing with your mascara in a mirror, but you loved that shot in your sister’s wedding album. Or it would never occur to you to have your photographer snap photos of your something old, something blue, something borrowed, and something blue until you see it on a list. But FYI, the must-have wedding photo list is there to inspire, and is not something you ought to thrust into the hands of your photog.

(As Toni says in the comments, “I can pretty much guarantee that any wedding photographer seeing this post is groaning and putting their heads in their hands.“)

I do think the best wedding photos are the candid shots that just kind of happen, i.e., the ones you’d never in a million years think to stage. But I also like (and know others like) some of the more traditional photos that are in more than a few wedding albums, so it can’t hurt to glance at a must-have list of wedding photos at some point before the big day to be sure your wedding photographer doesn’t miss a thing. In other words, the list below may inspire you, but remember to chill out and let photo opportunities unfold naturally!

Bride’s dress on the hanger, spread on a bed, or over a chair
Bride’s shoes, close up (or do this later peeking out from under her dress)
Close-ups of bride’s bouquet, garter, veil, and other accessories
The bride’s something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue
Bride in curlers and/or having makeup applied
Bride apply mascara in the mirror
Bridesmaids applying their makeup
Candids of the bride and bridesmaids having mimosas (or just laughing)
Bride putting on her garter or just showing it off
Bridesmaids helping the bride into her wedding dress
Mom or bridesmaids zipping or buttoning up the dress
Then arranging the wedding dress, bustling the train, etc.
Close-up of dress details
Mom (or sister, MOH) closing clasp of bride’s necklace
Bride together with bridesmaids
Bride hugging mom
Bride kissing dad on the cheek
Bride pinning corsage/boutonniere on mother/father
Bride hugging grandparents or other relatives
Flower girl getting ready
Flower girl playing around the skirts of the bride/bridesmaids
Bridesmaids putting finishing touches on the bride, adding the veil, etc.
Bride spending moment alone, looking out a picture window or door, or leaning against a banister
Full-length shot of bride all dressed and ready to go
Bride and parents leaving for ceremony
Groom putting on tie in mirror
Groomsmen putting on boutonnieres or ties
Groomsmen checking themselves in the mirror
Groom checking the time
Groom clowning with groomsmen
Ring bearer getting ready
Ring bearer playing around the feet of the groomsmen
Groom with dad
Groom hugging mom
Groom pinning corsage on mom
Groom and groomsmen leaving for the ceremony

Ceremony venue outside
Ceremony venue inside, before guests
Wedding guests milling about, waiting
Groom waiting for the bride to arrive
Bride’s car or limo arriving
Bride and bridesmaids stuffed inside the limo
Bridesmaids exiting the limo
Bridesmaids or mom helping bride out of limo
Wide shot of ceremony space, with guests, from the back
Wide shot of the altar or chuppah, from the guests’ point of view
Wide shot of the guests, from the couple’s point of view
Ushers escorting grandparents and special guests to their seats
Groom at the altar (or later, mom escorting groom to altar)
Flower girl and ring bearer walking down the aisle
Wedding attendants walking down the aisle
Wide shot of venue just before bride walks down the aisle
Bride just before walking down the aisle
Groom reaction shot upon seeing bride
Back shot of bride (and her escort) beginning to walk down the aisle
Full-frontal shot of bride (and escort) walking down the aisle
Bride and groom together at the altar with officiant between them
Close-up of bridesmaids’ bouquets, lined up as they hold them at the altar
Close-up of unity candles or other ritual objects
Guests’ faces as bride and groom say their vows
Close-up hands as the rings are exchanged
Close-up of bride’s face, as seen over the groom’s shoulder
Close-up of groom’s face, as seen over the bride’s shoulder
Shot of both sets of parents’ faces as they witness ceremony
The kiss!
Guests’ reactions to the kiss
Bride and groom walking down the aisle together
Bride and groom signing the marriage license
Tender moments in the receiving line (if done at ceremony venue)
Bride and groom accepting congratulations
Bride and groom walking out of ceremony space, hand-in-hand
Guests showing bride and groom with birdseed (or whatever) as they make their way to car or limo
Bride and groom in the limo

Full shot of bride and groom together
Bride and groom gazing at each other
Bride and groom hugging
Bride and groom kissing
Any of the above in alternate locales (nearby park, woods, museum, street corner, etc.)
Groom carrying bride
Bride with her parents (and siblings)
Groom with his parents (and siblings)
Bride and groom with both families
Bride with groom’s parents
Groom with bride’s parents
Couple with grandparents
Any combination of mixed families that applies to your situation
Bride with bridesmaids
Groom with groomsmen
Bride with groomsmen
Groom with bridesmaids
Groom and groomsmen/bride and bridesmaids high-fiving/huddling
Group shot of bride, groom, and wedding party
Bride and groom walking toward the camera, holding hands
Bride and groom walking away from camera, holding hands
Wedding attendants (with or without bride and groom) running toward the camera
Wedding party looking down at camera
Bride and groom looking off into the future
Wedding party doing silly stuff with or without props

Exterior and interior shots of the site before the guests arrive
Close-up of reception table details (place settings, name cards, menus, centerpieces, favors etc.)
The seating chart, guest book, etc.
The cake table
Close-up of sweetheart table details
Wide shot of entire room before everyone arrives (best if taken from above)
Wide shot of entire room after guests arrive (best if taken from above)
Guests arriving and signing the guest book
The entrance of the wedding attendants and parents of the couple
The bride and groom’s grand entrance
Bride and groom hugging/talking to guests
Details like custom cocktail or favor table
Bride and groom’s first dance (wide shots and close-ups of faces)
Guests’ reactions to first dance
Groom dipping bride
Bride dancing with dad
Groom dancing with mom
Bride/groom dancing with grandparents
Bride and/or groom showing off wedding rings to guests
Bride showing garter to guests
VIPs making toasts
Bride and groom’s reactions to the toasts
Close-ups of guests’ faces, laughing and having a great time (lots of these!)
Kids running around the tables or tearing apart wedding favors
Guests dancing or acting silly
Bride and groom dancing with their attendants
Bride and groom visiting each table
Bride and groom sharing a private moment alone
The cake cutting
Bride and groom feeding each other cake
Bouquet toss and/or garter toss
If late, anyone who’s fallen asleep!
Bride and groom making their exit
Bride and groom in back seat of the getaway car
Back of car as it drives away (especially if festooned with a Just Married sign)

9 Responses to “Huge List of Must-Have Wedding Photos”

  1. Great list!! It’s definitely important to analyze your must have pictures so the photographer captures them all 🙂

  2. Toni says:

    I can pretty much guarantee that any wedding photographer seeing this post is groaning and putting their heads in their hands. I can completely understand if the bride has some specific and unusual requests that the photographer might not be able to anticipate, such as “please take a photo of me and my best friend from elementary school, who for whatever reason isn’t in the wedding party” or “my grandmother made the lace on my hankie, so please get some pretty photos of that.”

    However, if you give your photographer a list that includes things like “The kiss!” and “The cake table” then you are either being seriously insulting or should really re-think your photographer choice.

    If you want to make some specific requests, then that’s fine, but try to limit that list to under a handful of items, and remember that the photog doesn’t know what your childhood best friend looks like, so it would help if you would present the two of you to the photog at some point to make sure that photo gets taken.

  3. @Toni YES! A long list like that is most definitely for the couple, not the photog. I think it pays to read one of these before you get hitched just so you can get an idea of where the photographer will be and what she or he will be looking for. It also helps the couple internalize an outline of the typical wedding ceremony and reception, since lists like these usually hit on most of the traditional “events.”

    Back when I was dealing with our wedding photog, I asked him if he wanted any kind of list since between The Beard and I, we have a pretty complicated family structure, and he’d said he’d be happy to take requests, but he had a system he used for photographing blended families (involving switching people in and out of the pics). It worked out surprisingly well, and I think we have pictures of us with almost everyone at our wedding – in groups of course.

  4. Giggles says:

    Our list was of people we wanted to have photos of. I just should’ve told some of those people so they would make themselves easier to grab. 🙂 And we made sure all major family members and friends were easily identifiable so our photographer would know to get more of them than other people.

    I’ve also seen the suggestion of assigning someone who knows both families to help point them out to the photographer.

  5. Vincent says:

    I’m a houston wedding photographer, the key to getting all the must have pictures is communication. I always make sure my clients always get our pre-wedding questionnaire. It takes care of those family issues that arise and makes the day go by seamless. Pre-planning let’s the bride and groom enjoy their big day.

  6. This is a great list! Thanks for the post! Although those candid shots are priceless, it’s important to make sure certain moments are captured. Also, the picture of the ring bearer and flower girl in your post is adorable!

  7. bfrank says:

    The pic’s soo lovely. It’s definately a wedding moment that’s worth keeping!

  8. G.E. Masana says:

    Thing is, if the experienced photographer is tied up concentrating on getting the listed shots, those beyond the obvious that the bride and groom imagine they want such as “Bride showing garter to guests”, then they’re taken away from obtaining who-knows-what rare, special, unique moments that real life presents during the wedding day that are unplanned and unforeseen, such as the children fallen asleep. You can bet that shot was never originally thought up specifically for inclusion on a list but that it happened when the photographer was free to roam and scout for photo ops. And ironically, those types of images then become the shots that the next bride sees and wants to put on her “list”!

  9. I can completely understand if the bride has some specific and unusual requests that the photographer might not be able to anticipate.