A Photographer's Complete Guide and Shot List for Weddings

FOTO Blog | A Photographer's Complete Guide and Shot List for Weddings


Whether it's your first or one hundredth wedding to photograph, it's always best practice to have a system and checklist in place to keep you organized and prepared pre-nuptials. We understand it's a little daunting that weddings are filled with such irreplaceable moments and high expectations from the bride and her family,  and that it's really important to be as professional and prepped as possible to give your clients (and yourself) peace of mind leading up to the big day. Below, we've compiled a complete guide and checklist for you to use as an outline as you collaborate with your bride/groom and photograph their most treasured memories.


3 weeks until wedding day: Send a standard shot list (that includes a rough timeline of the day) to your bride and groom. Ask them what they want to add/edit. Make them feel like a part of the process while staying in control (you're the professional). By giving your clients a structured/standard outline you will help guide them to communicate with you some of the more customized shots they really want and give you more context of what they've planned their day to look like.

1-2 weeks until wedding day: Stay in good communication with the bride and groom. Continue to work on the shot list with them and even send them some sort of gift or treat to get them through this busy time (i.e. a Starbucks gift card for some extra caffeine or a gift card to a nice restaurant for them to take a break and just enjoy some time together).

3 days until wedding day: Have a finalized and approved shot list and timeline.

1 day until wedding day: Study your list, research the locations, gather (and charge) your equipment, put gas in your car, double check the directions to the first location and get to bed early!

Wedding day: Stay nourished and hydrated, dress professionally, honor your clients (it's their big day), stick closely to your shot list (but be flexible to the things you can't plan for), and work with confidence!

Once you get home, be sure to upload your photos onto your computer and back them up on a hard drive. These photos are your livelihood so treat them with utmost care and precaution! When it comes to shooting weddings, there are no second chances!

Standard Shot List:

FOTO Blog | A Photographer's Complete Guide and Shot List for Weddings


Getting Ready

Groom (45 min - 1 hr)

  • groom getting ready with his groomsmen
  • ‘cheers’ moment with groom/groomsmen
  • wedding band details
  • details of groom/groomsmen putting on their ties and boutonnieres
  • groom with parents and siblings (group and individual)
  • groom with groomsmen (group and individual)
  • groom with best man
  • portraits of groom

Bride (1 - 1.5 hrs)

  • bride getting hair/makeup done
  • gown details (hanging, draped over chair, laid out on bed)
  • accessory details (shoes, jewelry, something old, new, borrowed and blue)
  • bouquet details (bride’s and bridesmaids’)
  • candid shots of bridesmaids’ getting ready
  • ‘cheers’ moment with bride/bridesmaids
  • mother/sister/maid of honor helping bride into her dress
  • mother/sister/maid of honor helping with touch ups and details (like veil, lip gloss, jewelry)
  • bride seeing herself in the mirror
  • bridesmaids seeing bride in her gown
  • portraits of bride
  • father seeing bride
  • bride with parents and siblings (group and individual)
  • bride with bridesmaids (group and individual)
  • bride with maid of honor

FOTO Blog | A Photographer's Complete Guide and Shot List for Weddings



  • exterior and interior shots of site before guests arrive
  • decoration/flower details
  • groom walking down aisle with mother
  • grandparents walking down the aisle
  • close-up of groom’s expression waiting for the bride
  • bridal party walking down the aisle
  • close-up of bride before making her entrance
  • bride and father walking down the aisle
  • groom’s reaction/seeing bride for first time
  • bride and groom at the altar
  • both sets of parents watching ceremony
  • wide shot of altar from guests' vantage point
  • special moments, readings, candle lightings, etc.
  • close up of bride and groom during vows
  • close up of bride and groom’s hands as exchange rings
  • the kiss
  • announcement of newlyweds/expression of bride and groom/expression of guests
  • newlyweds walking down the aisle together
  • bride and groom hugging family/friends
  • bride showing off wedding ring
  • newlyweds leaving ceremony site

FOTO Blog | A Photographer's Complete Guide and Shot List for Weddings


Group Shots

  • bride and groom together
  • bride with mother
  • bride with father
  • bride with both parents
  • bride with entire immediate family
  • groom with mother
  • groom with father
  • groom with both parents
  • groom with entire immediate family
  • newlyweds with bride’s family
  • newlyweds with groom’s family
  • newlyweds with both sets of parents
  • newlyweds with immediate family members from both sides
  • newlyweds with bridesmaids
  • newlyweds with groomsmen
  • newlyweds with flower girl and ring bearer
  • newlyweds with entire wedding party

FOTO Blog | A Photographer's Complete Guide and Shot List for Weddings



  • exterior and interior of site
  • details of place cards, menus, centerpieces, decorations, table settings, favors, guest book, place settings, etc.
  • wedding cakes
  • appetizers and specialty drinks
  • guests arriving and signing guest book
  • newlyweds arriving
  • close ups of friends/family members making toasts
  • newlyweds at their table
  • candid shots/newlyweds mingling with guests
  • newlyweds’ first dance
  • bride dancing with father
  • groom dancing with mother
  • parents and grandparents dancing
  • wedding party dancing
  • musicians performing
  • guests dancing
  • newlyweds dancing with bridal party
  • newlyweds cutting the cake
  • bouquet toss
  • getaway vehicle
  • newlyweds leaving reception/guest send off


Related: FotostrapFOTO, #tellyourstoryTips


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