22 Must-Have Wedding Photographs

Creating the perfect wedding album is all about telling the story of your wedding day through a mixture of details shots, candid moments and gorgeous portraits. When you hire a wedding photographer, you’re trusting that they know how to get the job done and won’t overlook anything.

But it’s worth coming up with your own “must-have” list of wedding shots and sharing these with your photographer to ensure you’re on the same page. The last thing you want is to plan something special and not have it documented because your photographer didn’t know it was happening!

In this article, we’ll share with you some of the shots that should be included on your wedding photo list, roughly in chronological order. But depending on the wedding you’re planning, you can easily switch things around or add photos into the mix to create your dream wedding photo book.

1. The details

For most photographers, this is one of the first shots they’ll grab on arrival at your venue as you’re busy with hair and makeup. It can be one of myriad combinations including your wedding invitations, perfume, jewellery and/or shoes, as well as any treasured items (something “old, new, borrowed and blue”).

2. The rings

If there’s something that really deserves a solo shot, it’s the wedding rings! Photographers with high-quality macro lenses can capture stunning up-close shots of the rings before they’re delivered to the (hopefully) safe hands of the best man.

3. The bouquets and boutonnieres

Once your florals have arrived, ensure your photographer captures some up-close shots of them looking their best. While the bride and bridesmaids’ bouquets are often the feature, don’t forget the groom and groomsmen’s boutonnieres!

4. The hair and makeup session

Depending on what time your photographer is arriving, you can capture some behind-the-scenes shots as you have the final touches applied to your hair and makeup. These can range from up-close candids to silhouette photos beside your bridal suite window.

5. With the girls

If you’re getting ready with your sisters and/or best friends, be sure to grab some playful shots of you clinking champagne glasses or pillow fighting in your matching gowns/pyjamas. It’s a fun way of honouring your final moments as an unmarried woman with those who are closest to you.

6. Buttoning up the dress

Whether it’s being done by your maid-of-honour or your mum, it’s worth documenting the moment your wedding dress is buttoned or zipped up. Similarly, you can capture images as your entourage helps to secure your necklace and earrings or helps to position your garter.

7. Bride portraits

Once you’re dressed and ready to go, it’s your time to shine during a bridal portrait session. This is you looking your freshest and most radiant on your wedding day, with all the expectation of the first look and the ceremony. If you and your future spouse are writing note cards to each other, be sure to document these moments also.

8. Groom portraits

It’s not only about the bride! Ensure your photographer has enough time to capture some sophisticated portraits of your groom or hire a second shooter to ensure nothing gets missed. Classic groom portraits might see him adjusting his cuff links or checking his watch in the lead-up to the ceremony.

9. The first look(s)

Planning a first look session with your father or future spouse? This moment is all about capturing your reactions and heartfelt emotions. If you’re having a first look with your partner, chat with your photographer about the best way to execute it – standing back-to-back or with one of your walking up to the other.

10. The veil

If you’re wearing a veil, it’s worth making a moment of it as your father (or whoever is walking you down the aisle) places it over your face. It’s a symbolic moment in the “handing off” of a bride and her transition into married life.

11. The bridal party

Depending on whether you’re having a first look session or not, the bridal party portraits might come before or after the ceremony. The benefit of having them beforehand is that it allows you more time for family formals and couple portraits after saying “I do”. While most photographers will capture classic bridal party portraits, don’t be afraid to get creative and even a little playful during this session.

Photo courtesy of Varun and Sindhu

12. Ceremony candids

When it comes to the wedding ceremony itself, most of the photos will be authentic candid shots, with your photographer acting as a “fly on the wall” during the official proceedings. At a minimum, you want to get photos of you walking down the aisle, the hand-off, the vows and the ring exchange, as well as the first kiss after you’re pronounced “husband and wife”. During the recessional walk down the aisle, we also love a dramatic dip and kiss!

Photo courtesy of Franziska and Daniel

13. Bridal party celebrations

Once you’re officially wed, why not capture a shot of you kissing as your bridal party celebrate around you. Champagne, streamers and party poppers are great optional additions!!

14. Family formals

Traditionally, family formals are taken immediately following the wedding ceremony in a myriad of combinations. A top tip: designate someone in your family to ensure that everybody knows where they need to be and when so that the session runs efficiently (and doesn’t eat into your portrait time).

15. Couple portraits

This is the time you get to sneak away with your photographer and enjoy some loved-up moments with your spouse while capturing gorgeous portraits along the way. Most photographers will guide you through this session with some go-to poses. But it’s often those tender embraces and special exchanges with your loved one that result in the most memorable images.

Photo courtesy of Relic Photographic

16. Cocktail hour

While you’re busy having romantic portraits taken, your guests are mingling at the cocktail hour. Unless you have a second shooter, it can be difficult for your photographer to cover both comprehensively. But you can request that they get at least a couple of shots capturing the scene.

17. The reception details

Before your wedding guests spill into the reception space, ask your photographer to take some photos of the decor and design. You want a mixture of wide-angles of the overall setting and up-close shots of the table centrepieces, documenting all of the details you’ve carefully selected.

18. The grand entrance

Kicking off the reception proceedings is your grand entrance as you and your spouse are introduced as “Mr and Mrs”. This is where you get that shot of you with your arms in the air, smiling from ear to ear.

19. The first dance

This is one of the biggest photo opportunities of the reception as you and your loved one take to the dance floor to perform. Whether it’s an intimate sway by spotlight or a choreographed hip-hop routine, it’s a moment not to be missed on camera.

20. The cake cutting

The cake cutting ceremony is one of those formal traditions that often descends into mayhem as couples smash cake into one another’s faces. However you decide to do things, ensure your photographer captures a shot of the cake before any damage is done!

21. Dance floor action

Once the official proceedings are over, it’s time for everyone to hit the dance floor and you definitely want some shots infused with the celebration and spirit of the moment. If you’re planning a bouquet toss or a garter removal on the dance floor, make sure your photographer has been given the heads up so they’re in the right place at the right time.

Photo courtesy of the Beckoms

22. The grand exit

At the end of the night, you might sneak away quietly or do something grander, such as a sparkler, confetti or bubble exit. For most couples, this means exiting their reception framed by two rows of guests, with a final dramatic kiss for your photographer to capture on the way out.

In creating this “must-have” wedding photograph list, we recognise that no two weddings are the same and many couples choose to incorporate cultural rituals that we haven’t covered here. But we hope that it’s a starting point for you to create your own list so that your premium wedding photo album is everything you dreamed it would be and more.

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