A wedding should be one of the most memorable days of a couple’s life. Capturing moments from this most memorable day is the responsibility of a wedding photographer. How does a photographer ensure they get each and every moment? By creating a wedding photo shot list. Let’s take a look at how to create a wedding photographer shot list and the things to consider when planning your shoot. 

Creating a Wedding Photo Shot List

Wedding photo shot list preparation

Creating a wedding photographer shot list is in and of itself great preparation. But great wedding photographers prepare for making their shot list. 

Meeting with the couple

Having an appointment with the soon to be newlyweds can be extremely valuable. It’s a great way to understand their expectations, get a better idea of the wedding plans, and gain information to create your wedding photo shot list 

Some questions to consider asking them: 

  • What is the agenda of the day? 

  • Are there any unique activities or moments to capture?

  • What style of photography do you love?

  • Do you have any references for newlywed portraits?

  • Who are the family members and what group portraits would you like?

Asking these questions while simultaneously giving guidance to your clients will make them feel like they are in good hands and will make you feel more prepared when the big day comes. 

Scout the venue

Like any shoot, scouting the location is always a benefit. It will give you a better visual idea of what type of space you have to work with. Of course, it’s not always possible to physically see the venue you are shooting. However, you can research the venue through Google photos, the venue’s website, or searching past weddings shot at that location. 

Wedding Photographer Shot List Wedding photographer shot list guide Venues

Wedding photographer shot list guide  •  Venues

Second shooter

Having a second shooter will ultimately come down to the photography package your clients select. If you do work with a second shooter, it’s important to know before creating your wedding shot list so that shots can be separated between first and second shooter. 

Using a shot listing software

Once you have all the necessary information to create your wedding photographer shot list it’s time to put it all together. Doing so can be a lot easier by using a shot listing software. We used StudioBinder’s free shot listing app to create our example wedding photographer shot list below. 

Wedding shot list template  •  Click to view full template

As you can see from our example wedding day shot list above, there are several categories to consider when thinking of must have shots. Let’s take a closer look at each. 

How to Create a Wedding Shot List

Wedding details

Before any guests arrive or the wedding couple get ready, it's important to capture the wedding details. These detail shots are shots that should be styled almost in a similar way to editorial photography.

Wedding Photographer Shot List Wedding day shot list guide

Wedding day shot list guide

Wedding details can vary from wedding to wedding, but generally there are a few details to think of when creating this section of the shot list. 

  • Wedding rings

  • Wedding Dress, Suit

  • Accessories: cufflinks, shoes, watches, ties

  • Flower arrangements, bouquets, corsages

  • Wedding programs, signs, invitations

While most of these details are taken before the day even starts, there are many “detail” style images to keep in mind during the ceremony and reception. We’ll talk about those a bit later.

Wedding Photo Shot List Tutorial

Moments getting ready

Once the wedding couple starts getting ready, there are moments to capture. Typically, the couple will get ready separately with their respective groomsmen and bridesmaids. This is usually a fun process of getting into dresses, suits, make up, etc.

Wedding Photographer Shot List Wedding photographer shot list

Wedding photographer shot list

Shot listing this process can be a bit more general since this process will typically allow for more time to shoot. Find fun moments between the bride(s) and/or groom(s) and their wedding party. 

Categories in photo shot list for wedding

Pre-ceremony

After the wedding couple gets ready, there are still a few moments to capture before the ceremony. There are a few first look moments to capture depending on the newlywed couple. 

  • First look between the couple alone

  • Bridesmaids with bride(s)

  • Groomsmen with groom(s)

  • Father first look with bride(s)

Wedding Photographer Shot List Ideas for a wedding shot list for photographer

Ideas for a wedding shot list for photographer

These moments are all about emotion. There are many moments during a wedding day that you only have one shot at. The first look between a wedding couple is one of them. Make sure you have it shot listed to remember to capture this key moment. 

Creating a Wedding Photo Shot List

Ceremony

Like the couple’s first look, the entire wedding ceremony is composed of moments you have one shot at. Creating a wedding shot list will remind you of which vital moments to capture and be prepared to shoot. Here are some key moments to consider shot listing.

  • Guests arriving/greeting each other

  • Groom and groomsmen waiting

  • Bridal party entrance

  • Bride walking down the aisle

  • Groom’s reaction

  • Parent(s) giving away the bride

  • Exchanging vows

  • Exchanging rings

  • First kiss 

  • Newlyweds’ exit

Wedding Photographer Shot List First look wedding photographer shot list

First look wedding photographer shot list

Weddings in general, but the ceremony particularly, are all about capturing emotion. Capturing emotion as a wedding photographer is all about anticipating when it will occur. These moments above are all great to shot list because they allow you to frame the shot just before the moment happens. 

Keyword here...

Newlywed Portraits

Right after the ceremony, it's important to grab the newlyweds for their first portraits as a married couple. Because it will be difficult to grab alone time with the couple for the rest of the day, this is a great time to get these shots. Not to mention, the emotion of the ceremony will carry over into your shoot with them, lending itself to some genuine and romantic portrait photography.

Wedding Photographer Shot List Couple portraits wedding photography

Couple portraits wedding photography

These newlywed portraits can be more posed and allow for more direction. Because of this, it's beneficial to shot list any newlywed references the couple may have given you during your initial meeting. These references should be focused on poses the couple loves. 

Categories of Photo Shot List for Wedding

Group shots

Next to capture are the group portraits. These group shots are different group combinations with the newlywed couple. Often, these are primarily immediate family members and the wedding party. Here are a few group combinations to consider shot listing. 

  • Couple with each set of parents

  • Couple with both parents

  • Couple with bride’s immediate family

  • Couple with groom’s immediate family

  • Couple with bridesmaids

  • Couple with groomsmen

  • Couple with whole wedding party

  • Bride(s) with maid of honor

  • Goom(s) with best man

Wedding Photographer Shot List Group portraits in wedding photography

Group portraits in wedding photography

Again, understanding the dynamics of the couple’s family members as well as which ones they wish to be in their group portraits should be communicated in the initial meeting with your clients. These will be shot listed so that the process of organizing each group photo is smooth and clear. 

Shot List for Wedding Photographer

Reception

Finally, it is often a bit more relaxed but equally important. Shooting the reception can, for the most part, be more free flowing as you follow the energy, emotion and action. However, there are a few moments that should still be shot listed for the reception.

  • Details of tables, wedding cake, food, wedding party table, party favors, etc.

  • Entrance of wedding party and newlywed couple

  • Speeches

  • Cake cutting

  • Newlyweds’ first dance

  • Bride(s) and/or groom(s) dance with parent

  • Tossing the bouquet

Wedding Photographer Shot List How to Create a Wedding Shot List Reception shots

How to Create a Wedding Shot List - Reception shots

Weddings are a day of fun, emotion, stress, and life long memories. They can be an incredibly overwhelming event to capture. However, with a bit of preparation and a solid wedding shot list capturing the love of joy of a wedding day can be a bit easier. Knowing what shots are must have can give you a better chance at creating some beautiful photographs that a couple will cherish for the rest of their life. 

Up Next

How to Create a Portrait Shot List

Shooting a wedding entails shooting portrait photography. If you’re looking for ways to uplevel your portrait photography in or outside of weddings, give our next article a read. 

Up Next: How to Create a Portrait Shot List →
Solution Icon - Shot List and Storyboard

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Create robust and customizable shot lists. Upload images to make storyboards and slideshows.

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  • Kyle DeGuzman graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science in Television, Film, & New Media. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado spending his time writing, filmmaking, and traveling.

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