The Must-Have Shots on Your Wedding Day – Part 1

By Savan Crutchfield /
The Must-Have Shots on your Wedding Day

I think every wedding photographer should have a “shot list” a week before their wedding session.  I also believe it is very important to have a conversation with your clients about specific images and “their must-have shots” outside of your must-have shots. This helps set the expectations and clear up any confusion post-event as well.  

For me, the client’s wedding day starts at the time of booking. Working with the planner (or bride) for all sorts of styles, the timeline and most important light for the couple’s romantics. The couple’s expectations for the big day, and how elaborate or detail-filled the wedding is, will determine the must-have photography shots.

So what are these sought-after photos?

Ok, let’s get into what I believe are “the must-have shots” during an 8-hour wedding day.  

Must Have Wedding Photos: Getting Ready Wedding Photos

Getting Ready is one of the most important pieces to the bride, and to me as a photographer.  The Getting Ready shots tell the story of the bride, bridesmaids and her mother, in the most intimate setting.  Getting the bride all dolled up, dressed and having her closest girlfriends around her as she becomes a wife is a huge start of the couple’s wedding story.

Here are my top wedding shots to capture while the bride is getting ready.

  1. Wedding gown, veil, invites, shoes, rings, florals and other important and meaningful details
  2. Bride and maids- casual candids in their robes, or champagne
  3. Bride in her robe and bouquet
  4. Bride getting zipped up by her mother or MOH (Maid of Honor) – candid images of the two of them, and one posed image of mom kissing the bride’s head.
  5. Bride putting on earrings, shoes and perfume
  6. Bride and Bridesmaid candids or posed together as the maids admire the bride
  7. Lastly, I get a handful of portraits of just the bride on the bed or window light

The must have photos on your wedding day: putting your dress on

As far as the groom is concerned, I don’t do as many detail shots as I do for the bride. The longer I shoot weddings the more I’ve come to realize that the couple, especially the groom, does not care as much about his details and his getting ready shots. Most grooms and his groomsmen already come to the venue dressed and ready to go. 

The first look images are very much dependent on the couple, I, as a photographer, am very selfish and love photographing them.  

If the couple chooses to do the first look,  most importantly and above all is the “groom’s reaction”, so I try to get as many natural and genuine reaction shots as possible.

The must have photos on your wedding day: first look

After the first look, the bridal party images begin. Here are some you don’t want to miss out on: 

  1. Formal with bride and groom in the middle with everyone smiling and looking at the camera
  2. Bride and groom kissing with the bridal party looking at them
  3. Mixing up the bridal party order, starting with posed and then a few candid ones
  4. My last entire bridal party image is everyone walking as the bride and groom look at each other or kiss

From there I get images of the bride, her maids, the groom and his boys. First up is the entire group, always. In between taking these images, I capture close-up and detail shots of the bouquets, hair or dresses blowing in the wind.  

The must have photos on your wedding day: Bridal Party

If I have extra time after bridal party images I will ALWAYS, I mean ALWAYS take more bridals and more bride and groom portraits. I want to get as many images of the bride and groom throughout the day, after all, it is their big day.  

I always ask the bride and groom to get me a full list of formal family members for family photos. This helps keep things organized, as sometimes family members are roaming around. I often will ask the couple if it is possible to shoot family photos before the ceremony. It is always the best of timing and allows your family to enjoy the cocktail hour right after the ceremony.

Interested in seeing what shots are a must at the ceremony and reception? Find out here!


About the Author

I am Savan, a modern fine art film wedding and portrait photographer living in the golden light state of California, Orange County to be exact. When I am not off photographing and witnessing couples saying their “I Do’s”, you can find me with my two young daughters and my husband, cooking or off on our next traveling adventures. I love the outdoors, wine, coffee, (ok mostly wine) with a love affair of having great food and even better friends around me.