I am always nervous at weddings because I am afraid I will miss those (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime moments for the couple. I thought it might be helpful to me to write out some of the traditional shots to take, and maybe it might be beneficial to you as well, whether you are a fledgling photographer like me or if you are engaged and looking for what to ask your photographer to take.
- Getting ready shots: the bride’s dress; her bouquet; the first time her bridal party/her parents see her completely ready. The groom and his groomsmen getting ready, too. This tends to be the best time to get the groom and best man together for photos. The bride and her father in the limo.
- The ceremony: interior and exterior shots of the location, and any decorations set out. The family and bridal party walking down the aisle, the groom’s face as the bride walks down the aisle, ashot of the bride from the front and the back walking down the aisle, bride’s escort giving her away. Any special moments like candle lightings, the readers, and the officiant during the service. Wide shots of the couple during the ceremony, close ups of the couple’s hands during the ring exchange. The kiss, the couple as they walk back down the aisle together, the receiving line, the couple leaving the ceremony site together. Signing the marriage certificate.
- Between the ceremony and reception: group shots of the bridal party and their families, to include bride and groom with bridesmaids, bride and groom with groomsmen, the bride and her family, groom and his family, the couple with both families.
- The reception: interior and exterior shots of the location, and any decorations set out like place cards, place settings and centerpieces, also the gift table. The cake table and sweetheart table if there is one. The bridal party introductions. Bride and groom first dance, dance with the bride and her father, and the groom and his mother, the bridal party dancing. The cake cutting. Toasts and speeches, both of the speaker and the couple’s reactions. I also try to get various shots through the reception of everyone dancing and having a good time.
This is not an exhaustive list of photographs by any means, but a good guide of go-to shots. The average wedding for me includes around 300 to 500 photos, so there are definitely variations of these pictures plus spur of the moment candid shots and other types of things. I try to look at everything from the point of view of the couple I am working for: what things would they want to have as memories? Thinking from that angle tends to guide my lens.
I have this all printed up as a checklist with plenty of blank lines underneath to give to clients. This way, the couple can give me other shots that are unmissable and don’t feel like they have to follow me around the day of their wedding to dictate every move I make. I don’t even want them to think about me being there, honestly! They should just be enjoying their day.
So there you have it, my usual go-tos for weddings. What do you think? Did I leave anything out?