7 Shots Your Wedding Photographer Has to Capture

A bride with a large bouquet and veil embracing the groom in a blue suit after the wedding.

When working with your wedding photographer, you may expect them to know exactly how to capture everything lovely about the wedding. This is usually true; experienced photographers have a good idea of when photogenic moments are likely to happen. However, good photographers also have some form of “shot list”—a checklist of the kinds of photographs they don’t want to be without when it comes time to put together your final package. One of the best ways to communicate clearly with your wedding photographer is to tell them if certain shots are extremely important to you. Here are seven examples of shots that tend to look great and capture a ton of the emotion of the big day.

1. Atmospheric Shots Pre-Ceremony

A strapless wedding dress hanging in a window.

When everyone arrives early to the ceremony to get ready, this is a great time for the photographer to get some details from around the venue. This can be everything from the iconic shot of a wedding dress on a hanger silhouetted by a window to a shot of the decorations and greenery on chairs and tables. Make it clear that you’d love for your photographer to be at the venue early enough to get these pictures before guests arrive.

2. Bridesmaids / Mother of the Bride Seeing Her in the Dress

A bride and her mom embracing before the wedding.

Brides make pretty cute faces when they come into the room in their dresses for the first time and their moms, sisters, cousins, and friends see them. Try to get as many candids of this experience as possible, since it will remind the bride of the happiness they shared with important women in their lives. These shots are also possible for grooms, but given the fairly standard styles of suits and tuxedos, the reaction may be a little more muted.

3. The First Look

A bride covering the eyes of her groom during the first look before the wedding.

One of the most emotion-filled pictures to get, if you have the time and choose to do it, is when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony occurs. Friends and relatives help to get them in the same place without either seeing the other approaching, and the photographer can get a lot of pictures as they turn around and see each other for the first time on their big day. People do the first look in many different ways, so talk to your photographer about which way works best for you and with your venue’s available spots.

4. The First Kiss

A bride and groom kissing during the wedding ceremony.

Getting pictures of the first kiss as a married couple can become one of the most iconic and romantic pictures of the entire wedding. Making sure it is on the shot list and that the photographer is ready for it is a must. The later kisses, like if people ring bells during the reception, can also make for very cute photographs.

5. A Moment Alone Together After the Ceremony

A bride and groom sharing a private moment after the wedding.

After the ceremony, many wedding parties and guests hustle into a new location to get some family and bridal party photographs, leaving almost no time for the groom and bride and soak in the fact they’re actually now married. If it is possible to take a few minutes with just the photographer and the new couple, it can result in some very sweet and tender photos.

6. The Toasts and the Guests’ Reactions

The bride and groom laughing at the toast made by the best man at a wedding.

It’s great to get the classic photo of a maid of honor or best man holding up a glass and offering a toast to the couple. The speeches that accompany such toasts can also be great fodder for a wedding photographer; after all, many of these speeches have funny or sentimental moments, so this is a good time to snap pictures of the guests at their tables as well. Even if you get a tear or two in the frame, these pictures will remind everyone of the great memories that were shared during the speeches.

7. First Dances or Other Reception Traditions

A bride and groom during their first dance with confetti falling down around them.

Whether you have a bouquet toss, a bubble tunnel, or just some first dances with parents and each other, your wedding photographer should know about them all and (as close as you can estimate) when they might happen. These traditions make for great reception photographs, so you want to make sure someone captures each special or funny moment, especially action shots like the toss of a garter or bouquet.

You may have many other shots that matter to you, but make sure your photographer knows what’s a priority. This way, they know what you are looking for, but can also add more shots to the list that have been favorites of couples in the past!

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