Essential Wedding Photography Checklist

Contributor: Amy Hoover
wedding photographer with couple

You have one chance to capture the memories of your big day, and a wedding photography checklist is an essential tool to avoid missing all those shots you'll treasure for years to come. From the basic family poses to those emotion-filled images of the bride's father giving her away, use this list to guide your photographer about your expectations.

Wedding Photo Checklist of Poses to Include

Once you have chosen the right photographer for your wedding, offer him or her a pose checklist so you can be sure to get all your memories preserved. You'll want to include some traditional poses, along with some fun ones and candid shots.

If you need help downloading the printable checklist, check out these helpful tips.

Traditional Poses

Even if you have a journalistic style photographer or you want a lot of fun and candid poses, it's still important to get in a few traditional poses. Use the checklist and these tips to get you started.

  • Bridal party: The bride and groom should be photographed with their attendants, and as a bridal party as a whole. The photographer will usually arrange the party into several different arrangements. Make sure you get the ring bearer and flower girl into these shots, too.
  • Bride and groom: Most of the traditional photos will be of the bride and groom together as a couple. The photographer should capture the first moment the groom sees the bride, along with posing them at the front of the altar, outside near picturesque scenery, and kissing.
  • Family: The bride and groom should take photos with their immediate family members, and with the immediate families together in one shot. If grandparents are attending, they should also be photographed with the bride and groom. If there's enough time, the couple may also want to get shots of themselves with their siblings.

Additional Event Photos

Make sure the photographer knows what photos to get before, during, and after the ceremony, as well as at the reception. However, a lot of great moments happen behind the scenes and in between the major events of the ceremony. In addition to the poses listed on the checklist, consider suggesting these unique photo ideas:

signing the marriage certificate
  • Bride watching out the window as people arrive
  • Bridesmaids helping bride into her shoes
  • Bride's attendants straightening her veil before she walks down the aisle
  • Bride sitting quietly with her mother or sister
  • The moment the bride's father sees her in her gown for the first time
  • The faces of the bride's and groom's parents during the exchange of vows
  • Quiet moments of the bride and groom together after the ceremony
  • If weather and time permit, shots of the bride and groom together in nature, the city, or any place that represents them as a couple
  • Wide shots of the venue before the guests arrive, including decorations and wedding flowers
  • Bride's hands with her grandmother's hands
  • Close shots of the groom's boutonniere
  • Bride's hands holding her bouquet

Fun and Candid Shots

Plan to have some creative shots taken at your wedding. Candid shots are often the best, as they show genuine feelings and reactions of the bride, groom, bridal party, and guests. However, planning a few fun posed shots like the following are also a lot of fun:

  • Candid shots of the bride laughing or sharing happy tears with bridesmaids before the ceremony
  • Children of guests getting restless during the ceremony
  • Little girls admiring the bride's gown
  • Fast action shots of the bouquet toss
  • Couple or bridal party near the limo, motorcycle, classic car, or tractor
  • Shots of bride and groom inside the limo
  • Bride and bridesmaids from the back, looking over their shoulders at the camera
  • Bride and groom kissing from above

Related Events Worth Photographing

opening gifts at bridal shower

While the main event is the wedding day, you may want to consider hiring a photographer for some of your other wedding-related activities. If you know a lot of people will be attending an engagement party who may not be able to make it to your wedding, it may be worth hiring a professional photographer to capture these special people celebrating with you. Extravagant bachelor and bachelorette parties, such as a trip to Las Vegas, are extremely memorable, and you'll want to capture every moment of this vacation.

You don't always need a professional in order to capture important memories. Ask friends who are photography enthusiasts to take some photos of a bridal shower, engagement party, or bachelorette or bachelor party. Make sure you get a few shots from the rehearsal, too. This is good way to save money on photos, and is an easy way to supplement a professional's images from other special events and your wedding day.

Working With a Photographer

Many photographers appreciate receiving a checklist of images you want to capture, since that helps them ensure they are meeting your expectations. Sit down before the wedding to talk about the checklist and the general style you have in mind. Remember, the photographer you hire will also have some wonderful ideas to include, based on his or her previous experience. Ask for ideas and suggestions. If the photographer suggests an image you haven't considered, it's almost always a good idea to include that pose. After all, you're not losing anything be adding more shots.

Capture Your Wedding Memories

A photographer is an essential part of any wedding day. You want to be sure that you not only choose one who is the right fit with a great portfolio, but one who is sure to follow your checklist of poses. Don't forget to let him or her have a little creative license to get some fun and candid shots too! Each time you look at your wedding photographs, the wonderful memories of your wedding will come flooding back and bring a smile to your face.

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Essential Wedding Photography Checklist