What is a wedding photography shot list template & why do you need it?

To ensure that no important photos are missed and that you get the most out of the time you are given to photograph a wedding, you need a wedding photography shot list. This is going to be a list that is divided into the main types of photos that you will be delivering to your client. This list covers all the basic photographs you'll be expected to capture throughout your time there. It covers everything from getting ready to when the couple is dancing the night away. Having a list will keep you on track throughout the day and also make it almost impossible for you to forget to capture a shot of something important. You don't have to start from scratch though, download the wedding photography shot list template provided to you at the end of this article.

What are the divisions of a wedding photography shot list?

A wedding photography shot list is divided into several different sections. These sections are the main types of images that one may expect to receive from a wedding photographer. Dividing your shot list into sections will keep it organized and make it easier for you to remember which shots you need when and where. This list also will parallel with your wedding day timeline and help you to stay on track and get to place to place on time. The main categories of a wedding shot list are:

Personal DETAILS

There are certain items, decor, and accessories that are of particular importance to the couple. More often than not, they will be wearing or using things that have sentimental value, belonged to a loved one, or that they bought specifically for their wedding and the vision they had. You'll want to make sure you capture images of these special items for the couple to remember. I make an effort to get an image of each item individually as well as an image of the item in use or being worn / put on, which provides context of the wedding day. Arguably, the most important detail shots that you need to get at the wedding, is of the wedding rings.


Not all couples are going to want photos of themselves getting ready for their wedding ceremony, but these photos help to tell the full story of the wedding day and show the transformation of the couple from when they wake up to when they say "I do." For the brides, don't start taking photos of them getting ready until they are actually almost done. This way you get the same effect but no one is half dressed or put together in the shots. You want everyone to look their best and that will make them that much happier with the final results. This is a great time to get shots of those personal items in use or being put on. If your couple does want getting ready photos, make sure you arrive 2-3 hours before the ceremony to really accommodate for the time it will take.

Singles & Bridal / Groom Party Portraits

Before the couple sees each other during their first look or for the first time at the altar, use this time to take individual portraits of the couple as well as portraits with their respective parties. For example, if you have a traditional bride and groom couple, make sure to get portraits of the bride alone at this time and then get pictures of the bride with her bridesmaids. Then, do the same for the groom and his groomsmen. Doing this pre-ceremony will free up time later to focus on group pictures as a whole and on couples portraits.


The ceremony portion of the shot list will include all of the important photos you need to make sure to take during the ceremony such as: each bridesmaid and groomsmen as they come down the aisle, the officiant if they are family or a friend of the family, the groom at the altar, the bride and whomever is giving her away (if anyone), the groom's reaction, the couple at the altar, wide shots of the entire wedding party, the vows, the rings, and of course, the FIRST KISS! This wedding ceremony is the most important portion of the entire day. So, you want to create a thorough wedding photography shot list template and go over it with your couple to be positive that you don't miss a moment of the ceremony. Be weary of guests with cell phones and where you are standing during the ceremony. While you're there to capture these important moments, you are not the star of the show and don't want to take too much attention away from the real reason everyone is there- to witness the marriage ceremony.

Ceremony & Reception Details

The details and care that goes into the decorations and set up of the ceremony and reception deserves to be documented. A good general rule to follow is that if the couple spent money or time on it, get a picture of it. So much love and care goes into all these small details and tells the story of the couple's relationship. There are some details that are more obvious than others like the cake and topper or the honeymoon table. The more obscure details are ones you'll want to look out for or just ask your couple like the guest table centerpieces or guest favors. These are all things that will vary from wedding to wedding so make sure you cover this with your couple before wedding day.


Couple's portraits are some of the most important photographs you will take during the wedding day. These photos showcase the day's celebrities and the love that they share. These are often going to be the photos that go out on thank you cards, get sent to family, and get printed out for the newlywed's home. So, you want to be sure to cover all of the basics first and foremost as well as get some of the more intimate, romantic, and artsy shots. Talk with your couple before the wedding day to get a feel for the amount of couple's portraits that they want and the types that they are comfortable with. Couples who don't want a ton of couple's portraits are most likely going to just want the straightforward poses and aren't going to want to do a bunch of creative shots. But, if that's something you'd like to provide, then figure out what works best for you, the wedding photographer, and the couple. Depending on your wedding day timeline, you may do the majority of these before the ceremony if your couple is doing a first look, or after the ceremony if their timeline is more traditional.


Every family is different. There are certain familial dynamics that are going to vary from family to family. There may be step-parents, bad blood between family members, or even deceased members of the immediate family. You'll want to communicate with your couple well before the wedding day to understand the dynamics of their families. This preparation will keep you moving during family photos and will help you to avoid the awkwardness of trying to pair divorced parents who hate each other for a photo. The nuclear family is becoming less and less common nowadays, so be mindful that their families may be different than what you're used to and be compassionate of their situations. There may be some bad blood, awkwardness, or drama happening in the families and you don't want to overstep on a sensitive subject.


By now, you should have gotten most of the individual party shots as mentioned earlier in this wedding photography shot list template guide if you did a first look. So, directly after the ceremony you can snap a few shots of the entire wedding party as a whole. Try to get some of these shots during the ceremony too to help tell the story of the full wedding day. If you are following a more traditional wedding day timeline, then this is the time to do all the rest of the photos that you may not have been able to get because the couple couldn't see each other.


There are a lot of aspects to the wedding reception that the wedding photographer does not have control over. It is important that you communicate with the other vendors to get a feel for the timeline of the reception so you know when to be where to get the important reception shots. Be sure to communicate with your couple ahead of time about what reception activities they will be participating in. Some couples are more traditional than others so they may be doing all the traditional wedding activities like cake cutting, bouquet / garter toss, first dances, etc. But, if your couple is opting out of these or is doing as many of them as possible, it's good to know this before the wedding day so that you can plan accordingly. Many weddings now are also including fun games, dancing, musicians, snack bars, and live artists as extra reception activities, so be sure to capture all of these as well!


The full wedding gallery is going to convey the full story of the wedding day and, with any good story, you need to set your scene (in fair Verona if you dare). This section of the shot list is going to cover the locations that these important moments will take place. So many venues pride themselves on their appearances and they really are very beautiful. Venues are one of, if not the biggest cost for a wedding, so documenting it in all of its glory is important. This is the setting that the newlyweds will have started this new chapter in their lives.


Templates are a great starting point when planning out your wedding day timeline. To download your copy of my wedding photography shot list template that you can edit to make your own or use as a reference, simply fill out the form at the link below. Use this template as a starting place and tailor it to meet the needs of each couple you work with.