30+ Wedding Photography MUST-HAVE Shots

We are thick in the middle of wedding season, aren’t we?

That means we’re thick in the middle of wedding photography season. Now I’m someone who doesn’t shoot weddings as my #1 job, but as you know, I tend to put 100% of myself into every job I do. And of the four or so weddings I’ve photographed, each one has been a huge learning experience/inspiration. I don’t know if I’ll ever do them full-time, but the gift of doing them part of the time, and in a highly perfectionistic way, is that I really do know what I’m doing. It’s a lesson in self-confidence, and weather-confidence, and technology-confidence, but since it’s really mostly about that first part, since you can’t control the rest, that’s where I start. There’s a feeling I get either right away, or hopefully not too far into a gig.

And that’s when raw instinct takes over. It’s almost like I’m floating a little outside of myself. It’s what I’m born to do.

With all of the weddings I’ve photographed, I’ve either been given or have asked the bride and groom for a checklist of important shots. Trust me, I find my own big and small moments. That’s what I’m paid to do. That’s what they’re trusting me to do. I don’t know everyone, though. That’s why I rely on these checklists. I don’t always know about the sick uncle, whose dance with the bride might be his last dance of all. I don’t know individual stories – and what people are battling every day. And I can see so much in my photos, but I need those checklists to know what my client thinks is most important.

I get asked a lot of photography questions, and I always have fun compiling them into photography posts, thanks to a great suggestion by my friend AnnMarie. Some questions require whole posts. This is one of those times. People ask me what my MUST-HAVE shots are for photographing a wedding. Whether you’re reading this as a bride or groom, (or two brides/two grooms), or as a family member, friend, or loved one in a wedding, or as a photographer interested in weddings – I’d love to hear your own thoughts of must-haves! Here are the photos I don’t leave a wedding without having taken, OR ELSE!

I have compiled 30+ must-have #wedding #photography shots - whether you're getting married, or photographing a wedding. You can make your own checklist too!

1 – Dress. I like this one billowing out or sleek/stylish on a plain/natural background.

2 – Shoes. I never knew how important these were until brides started to make sure I noticed them.

3 – Bridal details. I’m talking beyond jewelry with painted nails, barrettes, complicated braids, and other closeups.

4 – Jewelry. Rings, of course, and special earrings, meaningful necklaces, bracelets, etc.

5 РAll flowers. Decorations, bridal bouquet, bridesmaid bouquets, groom and groomsmen boutonni̬res.

6 – Invitations. Generally there’s a framed shot at the wedding, but if not, I take one before or after the wedding too.

7 – Groom accessories. Cufflinks, jewelry, and other special touches. (With Cassidy, it was his Converse shoes!)

8 – Welcome bags. These are usually found in the hotel and also sometimes at weddings.

9 – Notes. These can be cards, letters, vows, that brides and grooms sometimes write the day of their wedding.

10 – Bridal portrait. There will be many of these, of course, but they are timeless and unique.

11 – The bride and groom’s first look at each other! Of course, this includes bride/bride, groom/groom weddings. LOVE!

12 – Emotions. Honestly this is why I became a photographer in general, and why weddings are in my wheelhouse.

13 – Bridal party relaxed. These are FUN!

14 – Solos of all members of bridal party. These includes children and groomsmen, of course.

15 – The bride in action. That’s too much fun to resist!

16 – Decorations and favors. One of my recent brides is an artist so it was important to her that the wedding decorations were super special. And her favors were just as much fun! I must have photographed them for 30 minutes!

17 – Family shots. You may need an assistant to locate/round up/point out relatives.

18 – The bridal party at the ceremony. The groomsmen too, of course!

19 – Wedding party kids. This is a favorite of mine.

20 – The bride and groom in action. Another favorite! They’ll be busy busy all day.

21 – The walk down the aisle. And that includes EVERYONE walking!

22 – The groom’s face while the bride walks down the aisle. And during the ceremony in general.

23 – Furry friends. Sometimes pets make a big appearance at a wedding!

24 – Traditions. In our family, it was breaking the glass and standing under a Chuppah.

25 – Sweeping ceremony shots. Sweeping reception shots too, of course.

26 – Guests. This starts before the ceremony and continues until the after party, if you can. This is the meat of a wedding!

27 – The kiss. But of course!

28 – Stolen moments and candids. Sometimes, they really do forget you’re there. This is the BEST!

29 – The food. Including and starring, of course, the cake!

30 – Aerial shots. This can be done in different ways – drones, ladders, higher elevations. I have found (safe) ways.

31 – Musicians. Enough said there.

32 – All dance. Formal and planned, plus late night and crazy.

Happy Wedding Season!

No Words – Only Love

When I look at this photo of my nephew, what do I feel? Hint: Look closely.

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Honestly, I’m starting to question if May and June are really my favorite time of year. I always think they are, for obvious beauty/celebratory reasons, but then they hit and they hit HARD. May/June has been rather March/April like for the last two years. I’m talking weeks of rain. A dreadful extended winter. Our last two Mays have been miserable. Now things are gorgeous, but while the rain has calmed down and given to calm skies, don’t be fooled. It’s the most hectic time of year!

Like this week? Des turned FIVE! Five alive!

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I had a little trouble with it. (or a lot) I took the morning off from my normal duties and Cassidy took the kids to school. One of my school friends gave him flowers and chocolate to give to me. She gets it. The push/pull of celebrating their years and milestones, but wanting to hold them closer too. The end of the baby/toddler/preschooler era is a tough one for me. I’ve never had this feeling, because I’ve never had to have this feeling. I see littles and I want to cry. Luckily the cutie in the top photo is a little, and he’ll have a littler little sibling too. And I know the sex of the baby! I might even tell you here.

Now we have entered the funny zone – the Grief Corridor. It’s both old and raw. My Uncle Steve passed away a year ago on Des’ 4th birthday. That same week, my beloved Penny passed away. Do you remember her? I still think about her so much:

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I just unearthed all those old photos of her from January, 2016.

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I’m writing this on Thursday, the 15th, which was my father’s birthday. My grandmother passed away three years ago today – on my father’s birthday. My father passed away on July 2nd, and my grandfather passed away on July 2nd five years ago. Seriously. Those were my mom’s parents – passing away on my father’s birthday and the same date he died. My sister wrote this on Facebook: “June 15….. my biological father’s bday, the first date with my husband (our first anniversary), and the day my nana passed at 100 years old…. that’s the thing about life… where there is up, there is down, but the up is so so so worth everything else. Happy 6/15, a day I honor my marriage, my father, and my nana… all living on through my love and my children💓” What else can you say? She’s the sister whose son is in the photo above, by the way! Cycle of life.

no words

This Grief Corridor doesn’t mean I’m not happy, or not finding minutes of calm, work and children willing. It just means bodily memory and a foggy head. A bit of a heat daze, and a deep appreciation for everything and everyone. We’re planning two birthday parties right now, and my birthday will follow. Next week is Des’ preschool graduation, as well as a visit from “baby” Parker. The chickens are finally in the coop and no one can get them in there. It’s a fortress. Not even this one can:

Then we have these photos I took of my nephew.

It doesn’t need words, does it? When I look at this photo, I feel hope. I feel confidence and stability and dwell on all that is RIGHT with the world. I feel like maybe I’m not done having kids, but if I am, the kids, nephews, and nieces I have remind me gently and not-so-gently that THIS is what we have. Sometimes, no words. Sometimes, only love. And that’s how I feel.

P.S. It’s a girl!

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “When I look at this photo, I feel..” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.