Must-Do Wedding Photos Checklist

Elopement Tips & Advice,
8 min read May 21, 2024
Must-Do Wedding Photos Checklist

Between the sheer size of your wedding Pinterest board and every idea free-floating in your head, you need a must-have wedding photos checklist to keep you on track when it’s time to strike a pose.

Where can you find a definitive list of must-do wedding photos? Right here in this guide.

From staged photos of the married couple to candid moments on the dance floor, we’re taking you through the shot list that every couple needs to capture their wedding celebrations—and we’re not leaving any pixel unturned.

Essential Wedding Photos Checklist

Why do you need a must-do wedding photo checklist in the first place? Can’t you improvise with your photographer on the big day?

Not exactly—especially if you’re planning a relatively traditional wedding ceremony with multiple guests and a set itinerary. Knowing your answer to “how many wedding photos should I get” should be the starting point in deciding what you want to prioritize in your shot list.

A photography checklist will help you:

  • Set expectations for your vendor – If your wedding photographer doesn’t know what your vision is for your wedding photos, they can’t meet (or exceed) your standards. While you might rely on their experience for some shots, making a list of your ideal photos will help them capture the special moments you have in mind.
  • Clear your head – At Simply Eloped, we know how stressful wedding planning can be—you’ve likely never planned an event like this before, and your to-do list might just be keeping you up at night. By tackling your photo list, you can tackle one big item on your list ahead of time and say goodbye to photography worries ahead of your big day.
  • Get every shot you want – Your wedding day will go by fast—and you might forget about important moments or items you want to capture while you’re savoring the moment. Putting your thoughts to paper will help you and your photographer remember to get a detail shot of that special family heirloom, your first bite into the wedding cake during the reception, or anything else you might forget to document in the moment.

Create your perfect elopement package. Get a quote!

Key Moments to Capture

Now for the must-have wedding photo checklist—the definitive guide to photos that will help you fill your wedding album with unforgettable shots for your special day. We’re breaking our list into four major stages:


While you and your spouse get ready and your guests take their seats, you’ll want to capture some critical moments, rituals, or traditions.

Let’s start with the “getting ready” suites, where you’ll want to get shots of:

  • Any matching pajamas, robes, or t-shirts worn by your wedding party
  • Celebratory toasts while getting ready
  • Getting ready photos of the bridal party with the makeup artists and hair stylists
  • Wedding party members buttoning, zipping, and straightening ties
  • The couple donning their respective wedding attire
  • Any “first looks” with the couples’ parents or loved ones

Once guests start milling into the wedding venue, consider getting photos of:

  • Ring bearer and flower girls shaking out the jitters
  • Any ceremony musicians playing mood music
  • Guests visiting pre-ceremony refreshment tables
  • Guests mingling with and greeting each other

When it’s time for the wedding party to line up, don’t forget about shots of:

  • Handing out bouquets
  • Straightening boutonnieres
  • Finding the right walking order
  • The wedding party hyping up the soon-to-be newlyweds
  • Any parents or relatives walking arm-in-arm with the couple


Since you won’t be able to stop and direct your photographer during the ceremony (you’ll be a little busy, after all), putting together your ideal wedding photography shot list should help them capture what you want during the big moment.

When the wedding party walks in, you might want specific shots of:

  • Each wedding party member (including flower girls and ring bearers)
  • Any wedding party pets
  • Escorts dropping off each member of the couple at the altar
  • The altar with the entire wedding party lined up ahead of any big entrances
  • Ring bearers handing off the wedding rings to the officiant

Whether you and your spouse will walk in together or one partner will make a grand entrance, you’ll want to get shots of:

  • Each person in the couple approaching the altar
  • Any parent blessings or hugs at the altar
  • The couple handing off bouquets to the wedding party

During the actual wedding, the kiss isn’t the only important moment you’ll want to capture—don’t forget about ceremony details:

  • Close-ups of any handwritten vows
  • Wiping away happy tears
  • A wedding party member or guest straightening the wedding dress train
  • The couple taking their rings from the officiant
  • Each person in the couple putting their ring on their spouse’s finger
  • Audience reactions and applause

As you, your spouse, and your wedding party file out after “I do,” consider getting shots of:

  • The couple arm-in-arm and smiling
  • Wedding party members joining arms and walking back down the aisle
  • The family of the couple filing out with the wedding party
  • First reactions after the couple has exited the ceremony space

Must-Do Wedding Photos Checklist


Before the reception fun begins, don’t forget about:

  1. Staged family and group photos
  2. Intimate couple photos

The easiest way to capture your desired family photos after the ceremony is to:

  • Make a list of all family members attending the event
  • Put them into one or more photo groups
  • Specify if they should be photographed with just one member of the couple or both

Giving your photographer this list will make the family photo session proceed smoothly and efficiently.

When it comes to wedding party photos, couples typically get:

  • A photo with each member of the wedding party
  • A group photo of the entire wedding party
  • A shot with each couple’s party and that couple member

For instance, in a bride and groom couple with bridesmaids and groomsmen, professional wedding photographers typically capture:

  • Each bridesmaid and groomsman with the couple
  • All of the bridesmaids and groomsmen in a group with the couple
  • All of the bridesmaids with the bride
  • All of the groomsmen with the groom

When it’s time to send the wedding party and family away for couples photos, you’ll have a chance to brainstorm some unique poses or settings that really capture your personality as a couple. We’ll offer a few photography tips and ideas in a later section.


During the reception, make sure that your photographer captures:

  • The couple’s entrance into the reception space
  • Any wedding party entrances into the reception space
  • The newlyweds sitting at their places
  • Detail shots of the untouched tableware and settings
  • Speeches and toasts
  • Multiple shots of the crowd (especially during speeches)
  • The untouched wedding cake or desserts
  • Cake-cutting (or any similar rituals)
  • Garter and bouquet tosses (or other traditions)
  • First dances and parent dances
  • Plenty of candid shots on the dancefloor!

If you plan to dance the night away during your reception, consider giving your photographer a list of:

  • Guests you’d like them to take extra candid photos of during the reception
  • Special songs you’d like photographed
  • Guests to ask for posed photos later in the evening

Creative Photo Ideas for Unique Memories

Even if you’re sticking to the standards for ceremony, family, and wedding party photos, don’t forget about special opportunities to showcase your love story. Here are some beautiful wedding photo ideas:

  • Incorporate keepsakes – If you and your spouse are wearing any special items (heirloom jewelry, for instance) or you bonded over a special interest, consider incorporating keepsakes into your photos. If you root for rival sports teams, for instance, this might be a chance to whip out your respective hats and pennants.
  • Recreate a classic photo – If you’ve known your spouse for many years and have a decades-old photo together, consider recreating this photo when you’re all dolled up for your wedding. High school sweethearts might want to recreate prom or graduation photos, for example.
  • Find an intimate backdrop – Consider returning to the “getting ready” suite, finding a tucked-away corner of your venue, or sneaking away to an alley to capture especially compelling and intimate moments with your spouse.

You and your spouse might not have another opportunity to dress to the nines and pose for a professional photographer again—this is the time to bring your most grandiose and hare-brained photo ideas to life.

How to Organize Your Photo List with Your Photographer

We recommend organizing your photo list the same way we’ve done it here: grouping shots by event stage. This will help your professional wedding photographer focus on each specific moment and capture everything on your list when the time comes.

In addition, you might find it helpful to add a detailed itinerary to your shot list—especially if your wedding venue has you on a tight schedule or the sun sets early in your ceremony locale.

Must-Do Wedding Photos Checklist 2

Elopement Photography: A Simpler Option

While many of the shots above can be repurposed for intimate elopements, couples opting out of traditional ceremonies have far more opportunities to get creative with their photographers. After all, your entire photography session will be dedicated to you and your spouse—no need to wait for your wedding party or relatives to line up for group photos.

Even if you’re having a more traditional wedding, you can still take a few pages out of the elopement photographer’s book:

  • Budget ample time for couples photos – Even if you’re inviting 100+ guests, there’s nothing stopping you from taking photos with your spouse privately for an extended time after the ceremony. As long as your guests have food and drinks available, take as much time as you’d like—it’s your special day.
  • Opt for candids instead of staged photos – Instead of lining up your immediate family and wedding party for staged, traditional photos, ask your photographer to go for candids instead. While staged photos are very special, candids offer an intimate, heartfelt feel.
  • Choose couples photos only – Don’t forget that, unless you want to, you don’t have to photograph your guests—your wedding photographer can focus entirely on you and your spouse during your event. If you’re not attached to taking family photos or shots with your wedding party, skip these in favor of couple-only photos—these are the shots you’ll likely cherish the most.

Explore Our Elopement Photography Options

Want to take the time investment and guesswork out of finding an elopement or micro wedding photographer? Not sure how much elopement photography costs? Check out Simply Eloped—our elopement photography packages start at just $900, and we guarantee you’ll be floored by your photos.

We know how to curate intimate, romantic celebrations for unique couples better than anyone. Now, we’re taking that expertise into the photography space to help you connect with artists who understand your vision.

Must-Do Wedding Photos Checklist

Simplify Your Wedding Planning with Simply Eloped

Finding a wedding photographer and outlining your must-have wedding photos checklist isn’t the only time-consuming part of wedding planning. But you can kiss logistical headaches goodbye when you plan your event with Simply Eloped.

We offer all-inclusive elopement packages for every couple—no matter your ideal destination. Our seasoned planners are here to help you refine and curate your one-of-a-kind marriage celebration.

Ready to relax through the wedding planning process? Let Simply Eloped take the reins.

Elopement Tips & Advice
Written by Karen Norian

Karen Norian is an elopement photographer and has photographed over a hundred elopements. Karen has also worked as an elopement planner for Simply Eloped. She's been quoted in the New York Times, Brides, Hello Giggles, Bustle, Yahoo, and more.