23 Essential Moments to Capture from the Wedding Day

January 05, 2017

The wedding day provides you with candid and special moments between the bride and groom, as well as their family and friends. These are memories your couple wants to cherish, and are perfect images to place in their wedding album. Since there are so many images you take throughout the wedding shoot, we reached out to ShootDotEdit (who see plenty of wedding images while editing) to discover the best photos you should focus on to support the overall story of the wedding day. All images compliments of © Danny Dong Photography

Here at ShootDotEdit, we know how hectic the wedding shoot can be. There are only so many hours in the day, and numerous important moments for you to capture. The images you document help tell the overall story of the wedding day, which is perfect for the wedding album. But, how do you know which images are the best to focus on to create a memorable album? We gathered a list of 23 essential moments to capture from the wedding day to assist you in sharing the unique story of your couple’s wedding day.

1. Bride Getting Ready

Start by taking photos of the bride as she gets her hair styled, as well as the final look. Take note of the details of the dress, and even try to get photos of the bridesmaids helping zip up the dress or clasping a bracelet on the bride’s arm. This is also the perfect time to capture the bride and her loved ones together, including her bridesmaids, parents, and grandparents. Look for genuine emotion as her loved ones watch her transform.

© Danny Dong

2. Groom Getting Ready

As you did for the bride, also capture the groom as he styles his hair (or if someone else helps him). Get close and take photos of him adjusting his cuff links, and placing his jacket on. For a shot of the groom with his groomsmen or his father, suggest they help him place his jacket on to capture the shot of everyone together. Since getting ready for the groom may take less time, try to capture a few shots of him sitting on a couch or stool to add to the collection of groom photos.

© Danny Dong

3. Essential Detail Shots

Before the wedding shoot, the bride and groom put a lot of thought into the details of their day, so these are moments you must capture. Essential detail shots to take during the getting ready portion of the day are:

Dress and Shoes: There are a few options for the bride’s dress and shoes. Bring along a wooden hanger and place the dress in a location that will flatter it. Take shots which feature both the dress and the shoes, then also take shots of the dress up close so you document the intricate details.


© Danny Dong

Jewelry and Cufflinks: Jewelry and cufflinks are two staple items of the wedding day. Take a few shots of the jewelry and cufflinks before they are on the bride and groom. To capture the details, have the bride hold her earrings in the palm of her hands, and have the groom hold his wrist up so you can grab a photo of his cufflink on his jacket sleeves.

Bouquet: Find a background that compliments the colors of the bride’s bouquet. Once you document the bride’s bouquet, take a shot of hers with the bridesmaids’ bouquets as well.

Wedding Rings: Wedding ring shots are the perfect time to showcase your creativity. Use your location as inspiration for posing the rings together. For an outdoor shoot, look for viable branches or flowers to place the rings on. During an indoor shoot, look for the bride and groom’s additional accessories to place the rings with. Don’t forget to use your video light to make the details shine!

© Danny Dong

4. First Look

During the first look, work with your second shooter to capture the shots that matter. While you work with the bride, have your second shooter work with the groom. Take photos of her as she approaches the groom. Your second shooter should take photos in front of the groom, who has his eyes closed. A few great photos to shoot are of the bride approaching the groom, as he turns around, and the expression of their faces when he sees her.

5. Overall Ceremony Shot

Before the guests arrive and the ceremony starts, document photos of the ceremony site. Take one up above, so you see every detail. While you have the time, look for the details the couple chose. Take shots of the chairs, flowers, and other unique details the couple chose. Showcase what it would look like when you shoot from the guests’ point of view, as well.

© Danny Dong

6. Walking Down the Aisle

As the ceremony begins, there are several important people who will walk down the aisle. Capture the photos of the flower girl and ring bearer, the parents, and the wedding party. Then, of course, capture the bride as she makes her way down to her soon-to-be husband. If you have a second shooter with you, have them focus on the groom as he watches his bride walk down the aisle.

© Danny Dong

7. Close-Up of the Couple

While the ceremony happens, capture close-ups of the couple as they say their vows. Take a photo of the bride over the groom’s shoulder, so you can see her emotion as well as well as those of her bridesmaids. Do the same for the groom, so you can capture his facial expression as well as those of his groomsmen. This is also the perfect opportunity for you to work with your second shooter so you both can focus on them without missing any photos.

© Danny Dong

8. First Kiss

Once the bride and groom say their vows, it’s time to get ready to capture the first kiss. Make sure you are positioned in a location where you can document this moment, and no one else is in the way of the shot. Make sure you shoot so both the bride and groom are the focus of this moment, instead of shooting from one side or the other.

9. Bridal Portraits

Of the essential images, the bridal portraits are among the top. Take this time to highlight her personal style, as well as capture the details she chose. Start with a flattering full-body shot, where you have her turn slightly to the side, drop her front shoulder, and pop one leg to highlight her features. When you pose her with the bouquet, make sure she holds it around her belly button and her arms are out slightly from her hips.

© Danny Dong

 10. Groom Portraits

Start with the groom in a classic pose, where his hands are in his pockets and he is leaning against a wall. Then, have him remove his jacket and hold it behind his back. Tell him to think of his favorite magazine ad and imitate that for a fun image. For a final image, have him stand facing forward with his hands in his pockets and his jacket unbuttoned.

11. Couple Portraits

Now that you and your couple are comfortable working together, find different angles and positions to work with for their portraits. Take some shots from lower on the ground, and then from an elevated surface, such as a staircase or balcony. Don’t forget to showcase interaction between the couple by having them interlock hands, place her head on his shoulder, or have him wrap his arms around her.

© Danny Dong

12. Wedding Party

For the wedding party, start with a traditional pose, where you place the groomsmen next to the room and the bridesmaids next to the bride. If the groomsmen have boutonnieres, place them on the right side of the frame so the flowers are showcased in the photo. To spice up the shoot, include props into the photo. Did the couple arrive in an old vintage car? Have the wedding party pose around it, placing each member inside and outside for a few creative shots.

© Danny Dong

13. Family Formals

During the family formals, make sure they are close together to include everyone in the shoot. You can also shoot different groups together, including the couple with each set of parents, as well as grandparents. You can also take a few shots of the couple’s loved ones without them in the photo – such as the parents, grandparents, and even the flower girl and ring bearer.

14. Overall Reception Shot

Similar to the ceremony shot, capture an overall reception photo for your couple. In the images, include the reception details, such as the guest book, table decorations, floral arrangements, the meals, and if there is a DJ or band. These make great images for your couple, and are a perfect addition to the wedding album.

© Danny Dong

15. Couple Entering the Reception

When the couple is introduced at the reception, it’s the first time they are announced as husband and wife. Capture the bride and groom’s entrance, and make sure you document their excitement as they enter. Have your second shooter stand behind them as they enter the reception hall, as you are in front of them to capture their joy and excitement. Keep an eye out for any dancing or silly moves the couple makes as they enter to applause and cheers.

© Danny Dong

16. First Dance

During the first dance, shoot through the guests’ perspective, so the bride and groom see what their family and friends do. Capture close-up emotion between them, and make sure you switch up the angle to document both of their expressions. Follow along with the dance, so you are constantly switching up the angle you shoot at (just don’t forget to stand further away from the couple so they feel comfortable enough to act candidly).  

17. Traditional Dances

When you shoot the father/daughter dance, the mother/son dance, and any other traditional dances the couple has, switch up the angles you shoot from to keep their images unique. For a different approach, as the bride dances with her father, include the groom watching in the shot. Do the same for the bride, so they both see their expressions during an important moment. These are also great moments to include in wedding album for the couple to experience together.

18. Toast 

While the toasts happen, focus on the person giving the toast. If they have a speech prepared on a piece of paper, capture the paper as a detail shot for the couple. Capture the couple’s reactions as they listen to the speech, and look for laugher or tears. Don’t forget to capture the shot of the glasses raised throughout the room as they toast the bride and groom. There are sure to be some memorable moments from this part of the wedding day.

19. Cake Photo

Although you already captured reception details, the cake images are one of the key shots to document. Take a wide shot of the cake on the table, along with close-up details of it. Make sure to showcase the details surrounding the plate, such as the plates, knives, and even the table cover. The items with the cake are a part of the choices the couple made for their special day, and are ones they want to remember.


© Danny Dong

20. Couple and the Cake

Before the couple cuts the cake, have then pose next to it. This is a traditional wedding event the bride and groom will want to remember. Start shooting as the couple grabs the knife to slice the first piece, and keep an eye out for funny moments as the couple figures out the best way to cut it. Don’t forget to capture the moment when the couple feeds the cake to each other, and the laughter that comes along with it.

21. Bouquet / Garter Toss

Once it’s time for the bouquet and garter toss, try a wide shot where the bride and groom are in the front of the photo and the crowd waits in anticipation in the back. After they throw the items, shoot from a lower angle when the crowd looks up at the bouquet or garter. Focus on the crowd as they attempt to catch the bouquet or garter, and document their facial expressions as they go to reach for them. Finally, have the bride and groom pose with the two people who won the toss.

© Danny Dong

22. Celebration with Family & Friends

After the traditional moments are over, showcase the celebration the bride and groom have with their family and friends. Look for moments to help continue the story of the day, including everyone having fun, impromptu kisses between the couple or the guests, and surprising moments. The celebration of the bride and groom is a moment they will want to reminisce on together, and share with their loved ones in their wedding album.

23. Couple Exit

If the couple asks you to stay for the grand exit, you have another opportunity to take candid shots for your collection. Start with shots of the guests lining up outside, especially if they are holding sparklers. Document the genuine emotion on the bride and groom’s faces when they exit the building and are greeted by their guests. Keep taking photos as they walk through the exit, and finally showcase them getting into their getaway car.

© Danny Dong

With all that is going on at a wedding, capturing what is most important can seem overwhelming. Focusing on shooting the most important images by envisioning the wedding album ahead of time will help you capture what matters most.

On a related note, how can you ensure all of your photos are properly lit and your clients (and their loved ones) always look their best? Download our free guide, Pro Photographer Lighting and Posing Guide, to discover lighting and posing tips you can use in your upcoming shoots!

Download the Guide

About ShootDotEdit:
ShootDotEdit is the first choice color correction and post production solution for the pro wedding photographer, and everything they shoot. They provide turnaround time as fast as 48 hours. ShootDotEdit Customers now receive Extra, a complimentary gallery hosting and storage service designed to sell more prints for you with zero commissions.

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