Want to be sure you can capture the best wedding photo on that special wedding day? This wedding photography checklist will help you through getting ready and ensure each photo shot is as good as the bride and groom want.
Photos to Take Before the Big Day
Getting ready before the wedding is the most important part of being a wedding photographer. Make sure you don’t focus exclusively on the bride, either. You should also talk to the groom and groomsmen if they’re available, especially if they request any particular shots in your shot list. Add any such requests to your wedding photo checklist.
Here are the main things to do before the wedding.
Make a Date with the Happy Couple
Meet the bride and groom in-person at least once before the wedding if possible. If you can’t, try to have a video chat with them instead. Make sure to ask them what they expect from your shots and if there’s anything else they hope to get from your photography.
Get the Details of the Day
Ask the bride and groom about their expected timeline. This includes pre-wedding photography, how long each aspect of the wedding and when you should expect notable moments like the first look and first dance. You can also use this to plan shots of the wedding cake and other things the bride and groom want to preserve in your photography.
Plan an Engagement Session
Taking a photo of the engagement is a great way to get to know your clients and practice for the wedding day. As a wedding photographer, consider attending the bridal party and any other celebrations they have as they’re preparing for the main wedding.
Get Your Contract in Writing
Do not rely on verbal promises. Get a written contract for all of your work as a wedding photographer. Here are the main things to cover in the contract. Pay particularly close attention to requests and whether or not your contract says you must provide them because those are usually the most important thing on your wedding photo checklist.
Plan and Gather Your Photo Gear
Determine what gear you need by evaluating factors like the size of the venue, the number of people, and the expected lighting conditions. Weddings often change locations several times throughout the day, so you should remain flexible while planning each wedding photo.
Scope Out the Venues
Venues have unique characteristics to keep in mind when planning your photos. For example, a wedding cake may look very different indoors and outdoors. Discuss any concerns about the venue as they relate to each wedding picture with the bride and groom.
Make Sure Your Assistant Knows All the Details
If you’re working with an assistant, go over all of your plans with them and make sure they know what you expect from them. In particular, be sure to review your wedding photo checklist, your plans for the wedding party, and anything special they need to do for any planned photo.
Things To Do the Day Before
Don’t count on the bride, groom, or family members being available. However, if you talk with the groom, best man and groomsmen ahead of time, you may be able to coordinate with some of the groomsmen if needed. Check your equipment, ensure all of your camera batteries are charged, and go to bed early.
Your Pre-Ceremony Day Photo Checklist
Here are some of the major photos to try and take before the ceremony.
Getting Dressed Up
- Take your first wedding photo at the house(s) of the bride and groom
- Continue the photos of their wedding day by taking shots as the bride and groom get ready
- Include any children in at least one wedding photo from this time
- Take photos at the bridal party, too, if they’re having one
The Big Reveal
- Capture the first look as the bride is revealed to any family and friends present
- Talk to the bride about any final notes, but try to avoid taking too much of her time
- Make sure to get a photo of the bride and father leaving home
In Route to the Ceremony
- Focus the next part of your wedding photography on the trip, preferably including the bride in the vehicle and arriving at the venue
- Review your list while in-transit; preferably, don’t be driving
- This may be your last chance to review your photo checklist, so make every moment count
Planning Your Ceremony Checklist
You may not be able to talk to the bride, groom, or family at the venue, but you can ask guests for help if needed. Otherwise, try to take the following photos:
- Take multiple pictures of each part of the wedding ceremony
- Take as many photos from your wedding photo list as possible, paying special attention to any specific requests
- Coordinate your wedding photo lists with your assistant(s) as needed
- Try to spend at least 10% of your time on the groom when they’re not with the bride
Photo Ops After The “I Do’s”
Your job isn’t over just because the ceremony’s done. Here are the post-ceremony photos that should be on your list.
Capturing the Newlyweds
These are largely self-explanatory and focus on the bride and groom together on their big day. This list includes:
- Different angles of the bride and groom
- As many creative detail shots as you can get
- Anything from the special requests list
- The first dance
Don’t Forget the Bridal Party
Bridal party shots should include:
- Photographs of all of the guests, bridesmaids, ring bearer, etc
- Any preparations for the main party
- Additional photography as needed for the style of party
Unforgettable Family Photos
Family shots include:
- Shots of all members of the family, individually and together
- Any groupings you can come up with (all kids, all men with red hair, etc.)
- Anything on the list the bride and groom asked for
Capture Some Good Candid Shots
Informal shots include everything not on your primary list. Many of the best photos are unplanned, so keep your camera at the ready and your eye open to look for opportunities.
Reception Shots Worth Considering
Reception photos can include additional group photo options as well as creative things like recreating pictures from the engagement or an earlier party.
After the Wedding
Review your wedding photography checklist to ensure you took as many shots as possible. Sometimes you can’t take every photo that the bride and groom ask for, but they may be willing to pose for a few specific shots on request.