Like everything wedding-related, you’ve put a lot of effort into researching and selecting your wedding photographer.
While your photographer is likely to have their own special list of "must-have" wedding photos, it’s still important that you consider your own list of images you can't do without.
But how long do wedding photos take? Write down your must-have shots, and then it's time to think about a timeline. It's important to have an idea of a photography timeline, to ensure no snaps are missed!
The Essential Must Have Wedding Photos Checklist
Most photographers will discuss the types of photos you would like in the lead-up to your wedding. Be prepared with a list of photos you absolutely must-have.
Usually, this involves photos with specific friends and family but could also be specific poses you want to have at specific venues. The last thing you want is regrets six months down the road that you didn’t get them.
Wedding photo opportunities to consider:
- Getting ready – if you are taking the traditional route, you’ll be getting ready separately. Take photos of this special time, to see what your fiancé was doing on the lead up to the ceremony.
- Detail photos – the lace on your gown, your wedding ring and even your tiara are important small details that make up your day. Be sure to capture photos of these details!
- Ceremony photos –the most captured moments of the ceremony are the arrival of the bride, the exchange of rings and the first kiss.
- Display photos – if you know you are wanting to have a wedding album printed, you are going to need a great photo for the cover. Plan this one in advance, as well as any photos you want put onto canvas or framed.
- Natural photos – there’ll be plenty of spontaneous and natural moments on your wedding day. The trick is to capture them!
- Formal poses – do you want the traditional bridal party line-up photo? Or the entire group of wedding guests with you both at the front?
- Final photo – every great day comes to an end, as will your wedding photos. One you can add at the very end of your album?
Formal family photos
Your photographer may give you a list to refer to, of potential formal portrait photos you might like to have taken. These are often taken during cocktail hour which is after the ceremony and before the reception. They include photos of the family with the couple in all sorts of orders. For example -
- A photo of the couple with one set of parents
- A photo of the couple with the other set of parents
- One of the couple with an individual parent
- The couple with one side of siblings
- The couple with both sets of parents
Not to mention photos with the step-parents, grandparents, nieces, nephews, cousins, uncles and aunts, and so forth!
Even though it might seem like a good idea to get as many photos as you can with everyone, bear in mind that they do take a while! If you only have your photographer for a set number of hours, or you have a tight wedding timeline, there might only be time for specific formal photos.
Set aside about 30 minutes of time for the formal family photos, if you limit them to close family.
First look photo
The first look photo means the couple sees each other before the ceremony. This is easy for the photographer because it means many of the photos of the happy couple can be taken before the guests arrive and it gets busy.
This is stepping away from tradition but it will free up a lot more time during cocktail hour.
Set aside about 30 minutes of time for the first look photos.
Wedding party photos
If you choose to go down the first look route, then photos of the bridal party, groomsmen, and the couple can be taken before the ceremony. This will again free up time during cocktail hour. Set aside 30-60 minutes of time for wedding party photos, depending on the location of the photos. If you're traveling away from the venue for the photos you will need to factor in this time.
If you're not doing the first look, then wedding party photos and the photos of the couple can be taken during cocktail hour. Set aside 30-45 minutes for these photos.
Think about where the best spot is to take your photos. Ideally, it will be at the venue so that travel time doesn't need to be added to the timeline. If you are traveling, make sure to add on extra time for this.
List of wedding photo opportunities
- Wedding rings, cufflinks and other special jewellery
- Wedding dress(es) and suits laid out, wedding shoes
- Bouquet, corsages, boutonnieres
- Bride(s) and bridal party hair and makeup
- Groomsmen attaching cufflinks, tying shoes
- Bride(s) putting on wedding dress, with help from bridesmaid or Mother of the bride
- Shots of bride(s), bridal party, groom(s), groomsmen having fun while getting ready
- Mother and bride portrait
- Father and bride portrait
- Family photos
- Bridal party leaving the house to go to the reception
PRE-CEREMONY (FIRST LOOK)
- First look
- Bride(s) and bridal party
- Groom(s) and groomsmen
- Venue shots including altar, flowers, interior and exterior details
- Groom and groomsmen waiting inside venue
- Bridal party entrance
- Bride(s) walking down the aisle
- Groom's reaction of bride
- Father/mother giving bride away
- Exchanging of vows and rings
- The first kiss
- Signing the marriage certificate
- Couple walking back up the aisle
- Newlywed photo
- Confetti throwing
COCKTAIL HOUR - FORMAL FAMILY PHOTOS
- Couple with bridesmaids/groomsmen
- Bride(s) with bridesmaids/maid of honour
- Groom(s) and groomsmen/best man
- Couple with their entire wedding party
- The couple with any children
- A photo of the couple with each set of parents
- One with the couple and both sets of parents
- The couple with siblings
- Couple with grandparents
- Couple with any other close family
- Photos of guests chatting, eating and drinking
- Photos of friends
- Guests hugging and congratulating couple
- Details and room decor, table settings, place cards...etc
- Wedding cake details
- Couples entrance
- Toasts and speeches
- Cake cutting
- The first dance
- Bride(s) dancing with father / groom(s) dancing with mother
- Guests dancing
- Musicians, singers, DJ
Wedding photo timeline example
Here's an example of a wedding photography timeline. This one features a first look.
Wedding photo opportunities PDF
Here is a handy pdf to download with all the wedding photos opportunities you might like on your wedding day!
Now you know what photos you want, here's a list of questions you should ask your wedding photographer!