Writing a guide learning wedding photography takes a lot of time. I debated about making it a paid “wedding photography for beginners” course. However, I decided that giving away these wedding photography tips and tricks for free was a better choice. What good is it to write a guide to shooting wedding photos and have very few readers because of having to pay?

So please enjoy this massive guide on how to take great wedding photos!

  1. Arrive at Getting Ready Location – Pre-ceremony
  2. Wedding Ceremony
  3. Bride & Groom Portraits
  4. Family Portraits
  5. The Bridal Party
  6. Wedding Reception Photography


A bit about how this how-to guide is laid out:

I thought it best to organize this by corresponding with the wedding day’s timeline. We start with our arrival at the first photography location and move through the entire wedding day. Each section will include a must have wedding photos list that corresponds with that part of the day along with wedding photography ideas and examples to help you visualize the descriptions

I also decided to write separate articles on what gear to use, how to prepare for the wedding day and post-production because it was simply too overwhelming to put it all into one.

1. Bride & Groom Getting Ready (aka Pre-ceremony)

I arrive at the location where the bride & groom are getting ready. I am already completely prepared for their wedding day. Creative wedding photography starts first & foremost with preparation. Long before their wedding day, I have visited the various sites for preparations, ceremony and reception. I have already created a list of must have wedding photos.

Here is a list of my essential wedding photos during this part of the day:

Bride’s Photos

  • Bride’s Jewelry
  • Wedding Ring Photo
  • Wedding Dress
  • Make-Up Artist’s Tools
  • Bride Before Dressed
  • Bridal Party Hanging Out
  • Toasts & Champagne
  • Bridal Shoes


Groom Photos

  • Groom’s Tux Hanging
  • Groomsmen Tuxes on Rack
  • Grooms Cuff Links, Ties
  • Groom Putting on Coat
  • Lacing Shoes
  • Tie or Bowtie
  • Groom’s Boutonniere
  • Formals of Groom, Groomsmen, Family
  • Solo Photos of Groom Dressed


Venue Photos

  • Photo of empty ceremony setup
  • More Wedding Ring Photos in venue
  • Wedding Dress in venue
  • Big sVenue Shot
  • Venue sign / Name of Venue
  • Flowers Set Up
  • Bride’s Shoes In Venue
  • Chair Details
  • Programs, Fans, Special Flowers


2. Gallery of Wedding Photos Idea

Browse through the gallery below to get ideas for wedding photos from the pre-ceremony part of the day. Photographers have different wedding photography styles. Don’t let the style throw you off, simply look at the wedding photo examples we have here as a guide. Also remember, moments are more than just a list of wedding photos. When I shoot weddings, I take a great deal of shots that aren’t on a wedding photography checklist. They are moments in history that should be preserved rather than a vanilla list of photos. Do both: Capture the Moments and Create the Art.



3. Bride & Groom

When looking for unique wedding photo ideas, don’t overlook the importance of creating epic photography with traditional portraiture for the B&G. What do I mean? Not every moment is candid or happens naturally.  However, your wedding clients will expect that you get the epic shots of just the two of them.

We set up this time of the day. Just after the ceremony, we ask the bride and groom to come with us rather than speaking with their guests. They have a wedding “glow” about them and it is the perfect time to get some really great couple’s portraits.

Looking – Smiling

I call this shot “Looking Smiling” because the couple is looking strait into the camera and smiling. Remember, parents are often the ones paying for wedding photography.  They want at least ONE photo of the bride and groom looking and smiling into the camera.

They want to put it into an 8×10 frame on their mantle at home.  We always take several of these and we tell the bride and groom that their parents will want them.  Put “Looking Smiling” on your wedding photo checklist.

4. Family Portraits

Don’t let family portraits scare you.  Sure, they’re just about the hardest part of a wedding, but if you do these right, you’ll have lots of people singing your praises.

Remember, family portraits are very, very important. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard back from families about these images. A wedding just might be the last event an elderly family member attends. I have had the brother of a bride pass away unexpectedly and she thanks us often for the images we captured.

Don’t let these turn out bad.  They are an extremely important part of the day.  If you’re asking what wedding photos to take, these are some of the highest priority.

Here are our suggestions for how to structure the family portrait section of the wedding photography.

  • Groom’s side of the family (Large extended family)
  • Groom’s grandparents
  • Groom’s immediate family
  • Groom’s siblings
  • Groom’s parents
  • Bride’s side of the family (Large extended family)
  • Bride’s grandparents
  • Bride’s immediate family
  • Bride’s siblings
  • Bride’s parents

Why shoot for the bride’s family second? Because you want to make sure to give the bride’s family the final word on what images they want.

Family Portraits

Without family portraits, no wedding photos list would be complete. Family portraits is one of the most important parts of the day. One way that we organize this time is to shoot for the biggest groups first. After the biggest group, we ask those guests to enjoy the cocktail hour and we shoot for ever-smaller groups until we get to the immediate family.

5. Wedding Photos – Ideas for The Bridal Party

As you look for bridal party photo ideas remember that the attendants of the bride & groom are the closest friends and family that person has. So it stands to reason that your wedding party photos need to be awesome. You want to treat them with the utmost respect while having a great time. These are their best friends!!  Their sisters and brothers!!

Wedding Party Photo Ideas

It is important to take the formal wedding party photo, but also to have fun with them.  This group of people is made up of their best friends and family. They do want the traditional portrait, but they also want something they can share on their social media.


6. Wedding Reception Photography

By this point you are mostly shooting candid wedding photography because the formals are over. There will be a few more choreographed shots but really you’re just a fly on the wall capturing moments.

As you’re creating your wedding photo list for photographer, please keep these shots in mind. Here’s our wedding photo ideas list.

  • Cake prior to cutting – This goes along with the reception details. I use an off camera light
  • Reception Details – Shoot these before guests are allowed into the reception area
  • Introductions –
  • First Dance – combination of tight and wide shots
  • Dad – Daughter Dance – Similar to first dance. Try to catch the looks on their faces
  • Mom Son Dance – Same as the dad daughter dance above
  • Toasts – Catch a good shot of the person giving the toast. Catch emotions and laughter of the couple and guests
  • Garter & Bouquet – Time your shot to catch the item being thrown while it’s in the air.
  • Cake cutting – Be sure to have your light right for this shot.
  • Money Dance – Sometimes you’ll have to have two photographers on this
  • Special events –
  • Special people on the dance floor – Perhaps a grandmother gets up and dances.  Make sure to capture this
  • The DJ or Band – Get one or two good shots of them. No need to overdo it unless the DJ or band members are family or friends of the couple.
  • The grand departure – When the couple is leaving, you need a great shot
  • The exit vehicle – If they have a limo or special car for their wedding, you need photos of it.
  • The venue at night from a distance
  • Go Outside – We always set up a few night shots with the couple
  • Gift Table – part of the details
  • Wedding Rings – We shoot these twice during the wedding day