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Traditional Wedding Photography: Creating the Essential shot list to capture the Couple's Big Day

Creating a shot list for a wedding can be daunting, especially for inexperienced or beginner photographers. Proper planning with detailed feedback from your clients will help achieve a smooth wedding day shoot and improve the service you deliver to your clients.


First, I compartmentalize and plan for each section of the day - The Preparation phase, the Ceremony phase, the Formal Shots, and the Reception phase. I then further divide each section into its own segments. The ability to refer to your shot list and prioritize your shots is essential to managing your time and exceeding your client's expectations.

Next, I'll ask the couple what shots they prioritize and make note of "MUST HAVE" shots. Also, ask what style would they like ... More staged and posed or more candids? More shots of the setting, or more intimate shots of the couple and attendees? I'll also ask them if they have a planned itinerary for the day listing times and locations for each event. With this information, you can plan your shots around the logistics of the day and make adjustments if needed.

Also, seriously consider adding a second photographer. Having a second shooter can help achieve more variety in your client's album and allow you to utilize more angles and perspectives. A second shooter also provides insurance in the event that you miss a shot. You can provide photographers in two separate areas simultaneously. having a planned shot list will allow for clear and easy communication with the second photographer.

Utilizing this guide and adapting it to your specific style in accordance with your client's preferences, you can be certain that you capture all the important moments and details of the big day.

Before the Ceremony - Preparation Phase

This phase of the day photographs the events leading up to the wedding ceremony. The focus during this time is to get candid moments of the bride and groom and their families while they are preparing for the wedding. It also includes capturing details of the dress, shoes, and jewelry, application of the bride’s hair and makeup, the groom’s suit and accessories, the rings, and the flowers. Capturing the emotions of the bride and groom, along with their loved ones, as they prepare to say “I do” is the main goal during this time.

It is also a good idea to ask the couple about any special or unique moments to capture as to add a very personal touch to their photos. Like all wedding shoots, a good combination of candid and staged photos from different perspectives makes for a well-balanced portfolio to help tell their story. There is a lot that goes into planning a wedding and as the photographer you want to document and tell the story of this wonderful event. It is a great way to capture memories of the moments leading up to the main event.

Some getting-ready shots might include:


Wedding rings (details)

Bouquet and Garter (details, closeups, and wide)

Bride's shoes, dress, jewelry, and other accessories (full, details and closeups)

Groom's shoes, suit, watch, and other accessories (full, details and closeups)


Bride getting hair and makeup done (before, during, and after)

Bride getting ready (with maid, matron, mother, sister and/or another friend or relative)

Bride getting dressed (the veil, fitting the dress, applying accessories, putting on garter, putting on shoes)

Groom getting ready (with best man, brother, father, and/or another friend or relative)

Groom getting dressed (putting on socks and shoes, adjusting tie, jacket, watch, etc.)

Bride fully dressed (candids and posed; wide and closeups)

Groom fully dressed (candids and posed; wide and closeups)

Bride leaving for the ceremony

Groom leaving for the ceremony


Bridesmaids' dresses and accessories