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Wedding for Beginners: A wedding photographer's shot list

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Photo by Terralogical

A shot list is usually used by couples who prefer having posed pictures on their wedding day. Normally, the couple will hand over the list and as a photographer, you need to ensure all poses on the list are well captured. However, if your client is the type to keep things natural, the shot list can be used as guide for starters, ensuring that no shot gets left behind and thus the wedding album can tell a complete and cohesive story.

This shot list will focus on the couple's moments; some are classic shots, while others might inspire you to capture their special moments in unexpected ways. Read along carefully and let them inspire you.

Before the wedding

  • The bride and the groom
    Before delving deeper into the ceremony, celebration, and other intimate moments, it's a necessity to have individual shots of the bride and groom clad in their wedding attires.

Photo by Angga Permana Photo (left) & Sally Pinera (right)

  • The first look
    Many couples do this tradition on their wedding day. The first look is the moment when the bride and groom see each other in their wedding attires for the first time. First looks can get very emotional, both the bride and groom's expressions are very natural and honest that we dare say that you should not miss out on this shot.

Photo by Jordan Brittley (left) & Coco Tran (right)

During Holy Matrimony

  • The groom waits, while the bride walks down the aisle
    Another lovely moment is when the bride walks down the aisle as the groom awaits at the altar. Some grooms get emotional, others grin with happiness, while the bride always looks as radiant as ever.

Photo by Archivo

  • The "I do"
    The solemn vow, the lifelong promise, the "I do". This is the time when couples share that unmistakable look of love.

Photo by Elisa Bricker

  • The ring exchange
    After the "I do" comes the ring. You can shoot the photo it in either showing the couple's facial expressions, or just do a close-up of the hands and rings. But again, it's best to have both.

Photo by Davy Linggar Photography

  • The wedding kiss
    The most memorable moment of the whole ceremony, the wedding kiss! Some shots are romantic; others are fun or simple and pretty. Whatever it looks like, this is one moment not to miss.

Photo by Axioo

  • Marriage certificate signing
    Not as emotional as the first look or the "I do", this moment is essential nonetheless, as it marks the time the state considers the couple legal as husband and wife. So camera up and snap!

Photo by Matt Reed Photography

  • The recessional
    As the couple walks out of the wedding ceremony area, traditionally the guests will throw rice grains or flower petals to shower the couple with good luck. As this is usually a very happy and festive moment, your client will thank you for a good shot during this moment.

Photo by Samie Lee Photography

At the reception

  • The walk into the reception site
    After the ceremony, comes the reception. To get a great entrance shot of the couple walking into the reception venue, ask your couple if they have plans to jazz up their entrance! Whether it's a song sung by the bride and the groom, an escort of dancers, or a gate of sparklers a proper shot of the couple's entrance is always necessary.

Photo by Axioo

  • The first dance
    Couples everywhere treasure the image of them doing their first dance and this is one of the moments in which they look most radiant.

Photo by Lacie Hansen

  • The wedding toast
    Another eventful moment not to miss, an image of beloved guests toasting for the couple's happiness. Be sure to not leave this one out. Cheers!

Photo by Terralogical

  • Cutting the cake
    In traditional weddings, the cake-cutting ceremony has been held to symbolize good luck and prosperity for the couple and all the guests. This tradition has carried on to this day and wedding cakes have become mandatory for any wedding celebration. So be sure to take a picture of the cake-cutting ceremony. After all, it's not a party without a cake.

Photo by Greg Finck (left) & Jose Villa (right)

  • Bouquet toss
    A moment of anticipation. The bouquet toss is done by the bride to spread her luck to all the singles attending her wedding, hoping they'll be next to get hitched. Fun and sometimes dramatic, be sure your get a shot of this one.

Photo via Southern Weddings

  • Sparkler exit
    The sparkler is back! Just as it was used for the reception entrance, couples that have a sparkler exit is guaranteed to have one merry photo to keep.

Photo by Love and Light Photographs

  • Getaway car shot
    Before you leaving the reception venue, don't forget to take a photo of the couple in their wedding car for the album.

Photo by Van Middleton Photography

  • Departing couple
    And then as they ride to the sunset (or just down the road), take a final snap of the moving car.

Photo by Cinzia Bruschini Photography

Cultural processions
If you happen to be shooting a cultural wedding, it is crucial to take detailed shots of the wedding traditions. For instance, Indonesia is a very diverse country, though we can't mention each ethnicity and culture one by one, all are as important to be documented in the wedding album. So it's best to be acquainted with the processions by consulting with the couples before the wedding to avoid missing any important moments.

Photo by Iluminen

  • Siraman
    Siraman, which means "bathing" in English, is an Indonesian wedding ritual many couples take part in, especially in Javanese and Sundanese culture. The ritual is meant to be a cleansing bathe for the bride and groom to rinse them of any impurities before entering the sacred marriage processionals.

Photo by Terralogical

  • Sungkem
    Sungkem is another Indonesian wedding ritual that involves the bride and groom kneeling and bowing to ask for their parents' forgiveness over past mistakes as well as blessings to enter marital life.

Photo by Terralogical

  • Pabetot bekakak
    This ritual, roughly translated as "chicken tug-of-war" is a part of the Sundanese wedding tradition. It has been believed that whoever pulls larger parts of the chicken will be the backbone of the family.

Photo by Fotologue

  • Wiji dadi
    Another Indonesian wedding ritual from Javanese culture, wiji dadi is a ritual in which the groom has to break an egg with his right foot, followed by the bride cleaning his feet. This represents a husband's readiness in becoming head of the family as well as the wife's dedication to her husband.

Photo by Storia

  • Other cultural ceremonies
    The same also applies to other cultural weddings, such as Indian and Chinese wedding traditions, which are all very unique and must be immortalized in images.

Photo by Angga Permana Photo (left) & Elizabeth Messina (right)

There you have it, a shot list of romantic couple moments during the ceremony and reception. Are there any other special and unique moments that you like to take picture of? Let us know what are your favourite shots below!

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