All brides know that wedding photos are one of the most important parts of the wedding day, so coming up with a must-have wedding photo list should be high on your wedding planning priorities. These are the memories you'll cherish forever and even look back on the very next day ("It goes by in a flash," they all say). That's why you want to make sure your photographer nails every photo-op, starting with the getting ready photos all the way through to your (sparkler) exit.
Step one to checking off this to-do list is to hire a wedding photographer you're excited about—and put your trust in the professional. You are hiring just that—a professional—who should know what they're doing, after all. They'll have an idea of the must-have wedding shots, but even so, it's nice to have some general knowledge of wedding photography yourself. As your 101 guide, we put together a wedding photo list of the must-have moments to capture—from the pretty detailed shot of your wedding day jewels to the table settings and invitation suite.
Of course, you don't have to get all of these wedding photos in order to create the perfect album, but it's nice to think about them. (Either way, they'll put you in the detail mindset at least as you buy those special bridal shoes and design your custom invitations). So before you get shopping and pinning away, scroll down to see some of our favorite images from real weddings on Brides. Once you make a mental checklist of your own, feel free to chat about these photo-op moments with your photographer—or better yet, send a link to this article! But once you do that, it's time to leave it to your photographer. From there, all you can do is put your trust in them, have fun, and be present on your big day. After all, the prettiest brides are the happiest ones, right?!
The Invitation Suite
Some photographers shoot the invitation suite on the wedding day, while others do it afterward in a studio. Talk to your photographer about what you're looking for in this photo moment and be direct about whether or not you want extra details (like these flowers) in the shot.
The Beauty Moment
Invite your photographer to the bridal suite to capture the beauty moments, like actress Carlson Young did to get a shot of her pretty braid. Give them a timeline before the big day, and don't forget to include your partner's getting ready moments as well!
You spend time handpicking your wedding day accessories and making sure they're special, so be sure to capture that. And if you're wearing something old, new, borrowed, and blue get a shot of everything together!
The Getting Ready Moments
After all that wedding dress shopping, you're going to want to document the big reveal. Snap a quick photo of your mom or Maid of Honor zipping you in.
The Wedding Shoes
This is one you can definitely choose to skip, but if you're wearing shoes as amazing as these, we think you may want photo evidence.
The Bridal Portrait
This is your time to shine in the spotlight and really show off that dress! Don't shy away from the camera, and make sure your photographer sets some time aside to capture your bridal portrait.
If you’re rocking a veil this pretty, be sure to have your photographer snap some pics from every single angle.
The Bridal Bouquet
With a wedding bouquet this gorgeous, you'd better hold on tight and pose! Opt for shots while holding your bouquet, or let your photographer capture it in different locations for the perfect shot.
The Bridal Party
We love this bridal party picture because it’s natural and candid. Copy it with your squad—and make sure you get some laughing ones while you're at it. You'll cherish these shots with your closest friends for years to come.
How brilliant are these calligraphed name tags? They tell you who gets which flower—and makes for one pretty photo-op. Be sure to include every little detail like this in your shot list.
It’s his turn to play model! Make sure to tell your groom how dapper he looks before he hops in front of the camera.
The First Look
Some couples are 100 percent sure they want a first look, while others would rather wait for the aisle moment, it's all up to you! If you do decide to see your groom before the ceremony, document it. You’ll cherish his reaction on film forever—we promise.
The Candid Moments
Wedding candids are our favorite moments. Be yourselves as your photographer snaps pics of the two of you. We especially love this photo of a bride reading her groom a love note before walking down the aisle.
Make sure your photographer knows you want them to capture those authentic moments beforehand so you can completely get lost in the moment.
After you and your partner say "I do," sneak away with your photographer for photos, just the two of you. It’s a nice moment to spend with your partner alone and a perfect time for some lovely photos.
The Wedding Party
Put everyone together in one big group! A fun photo like this shows your wedding party having a ball.
The Littlest Ones
Every bride needs a photo with her adorable flower girl or junior bridesmaid (if you decide to have one). Take a few in whatever pose comes naturally either looking down at them or squatting down and showing some love.
The Ceremony Site
Ask your photographer to take a landscape shot of the place where it all happens.
The Walk Down the Aisle
Whether you’re walking on the arm of your mother, father, or both, you’ll treasure this moment forever.
The Ring Exchange
Now here’s the important stuff! Make sure your photographer takes photos of the ceremony in action.
We love this ceremony shot—you know this was a fun one if the bride and groom are this relaxed when saying "I do."
The First Kiss
Ahh, the first kiss. Be sure to have your officiant step out of the shot for this major moment.
The (Confetti-Filled) Exit
Whether you're choosing confetti, sparklers, or any other type of creative exit, make sure it's captured! If your reception will go late into the night, consider staging the moment so your photographer gets the best shots before everyone leaves.
The Cocktail Hour
Once the party gets started, have your photographer capture guests in action sipping their signature cocktails and mingling around.
After all that time spent picking linens and chargers, make sure your photographer captures the details of the big day from different angles. We especially love this unexpected aerial shot.
The Place Setting
Again, the details are so important (and pretty).
Make sure to get a shot of the cake before it gets cut into!
The First Dance
This is one of the big photo-op moments, but don’t worry about your dance moves while you’re at it. Your photographer will capture all the fun you’re having—like this groom singing to his bride! (You did pick a favorite song, right?!)
The Cutting/Eating of the Cake
Adorable, whether or not you decide to get messy (maybe skip the icing in the face...).
The Dance Party
It's time to let loose on the dance floor! Let your photographer have free range to capture these fun moments with you and your guests.
The Last Kiss
Snag one more smooch on your way out—it's the perfect ending to your big day.