Here’s why you don’t need – or want! – to make a wedding day “shot list.”

NOTE: By “shot list” I don’t mean the list I request for family/group portraits; THAT list is very necessary for a couple reasons that I mention below.

I have to be honest, I’m always looking for ways to be organized – and I LOVE MAKING LISTS. Grocery lists, goals lists, wish lists, bucket lists, to do lists…You get the idea. Making lists puts me at ease and helps me feel like I’ve got things under control.  If you’ve hired me to shoot your wedding, and you love making lists as much as I do – this blog post is for you.

First, consider this scenario:

The day has arrived. You are surrounded by people you love, and months of planning are unfolding around you. You look across the room at me, the photographer you researched, met with, and trust, and I am looking down at a multi-page shot list, completely missing all the magic that is happening in that moment.

Trust me, you don’t want that to happen. And while I completely understand the impulse to make a shot list (did I mention I love making lists?), you do not need or want to give me a shot list for your wedding day.  If you are concerned that I will miss something, here are 4 things to do instead:

1) COMMUNICATE SPECIFICS THAT ARE UNIQUE TO YOUR DAY

Communicate with me about “must have shots” and unique details. To make this easy, I will send you a questionnaire with a section to fill out that addresses this. Also, an engagement shoot is a great way for us to get to know each other and to build your trust in me.  By communicating and getting to know each other, I’m able to capture the details and important moments naturally and tell the unique story of your day.

NOTE: There will be some details of your day that are unique to you – these are the details to add to the section of the questionnaire about unique details!  Think in terms of 4-5 shots or elements that I might not expect: your aunt did the florals, your dad is reading from a book of poetry that he authored, you are wearing your grandfather’s watch, etc.

2) SCHEDULE TIME FOR PORTRAITS

Work with me to schedule enough time for photos. Part of what I request on the questionnaire is a list of group portraits that you want.

Keep in mind that the least stressful and most effective way to do group portraits is a) all in one time slot and b) well away from other guests. Once I have your list of portraits, I can let you know how long your list of group photos will take – and we can make sure you add that time block to your schedule.

You should also schedule at least 45 minutes for couples portraits to ensure we get you guys relaxed and looking your best.

NOTE: Your group portrait list should include the names of each person in EVERY different photo, along with their relationship to you. This makes it possible for me to call out the shots – otherwise portraits can drag on – and no one wants that!

For more info on wedding day scheduling, read this post.

3) INCLUDE A SECOND PHOTOGRAPHER

If you will have more than 125 guests at your wedding and/or are having your ceremony and reception at two different locations, I recommend including coverage by a second photographer for at least a few hours of your day.

4) TRUST ME

Trusting me is critical. Know that I work extremely hard throughout the day to make sure every detail and moment is captured to preserve the memories of your important day. Choosing to trust my experience and expertise gives me the freedom to capture the day – and gives YOU the opportunity to relax and enjoy your wedding.


STILL CONCERNED?

Here’s a list I wrote from memory that encompasses all the elements I usually capture (without ever actually looking at a written list):

GETTING READY

    • Interior/exterior details of getting ready location
    • Dress/veil
    • Jewelry
    • Shoes
    • Ties/cuff links
    • Couple’s gifts
    • Wedding party gifts
    • Bouquets
    • Boutonniere
    • Make-up done
    • Hair done
    • Reflection in the mirror
    • Putting on the dress (often with Mom)
    • Putting on shoes
    • Putting on jacket/tie/adjustments

FIRST LOOK

    • Groom at location, waiting
    • Over Groom shoulder Bride walking towards
    • Reactions of both
    • Couple kissing
    • Couple looking at each other

COUPLES PORTRAITS (Individual)

    • Bride
      • With bouquet smiling at camera
        • Vertical full body
        • Horizontal hip up
      • With bouquet looking away from camera
      • Looking down at bouquet
      • Without bouquet smiling at camera
        • Vertical full body
        • Horizontal hip up
      • In movement, walking, swaying dress
    • Groom
      • With top button buttoned, hands in pockets
        • Vertical full body
        • Horizontal hip up

COUPLES PORTRAITS (Together)

    • Arms around each other, looking at each other
      • Vertical full body
      • Vertical from hip up
      • Horizontal, wide angle full body
      • Horizontal hip up
    • Arms around each other smiling at camera
      • Vertical full body
      • Vertical from hip up
      • Horizontal, wide angle full body
      • Horizontal hip up
    • Holding hands in middle, both smiling at camera
    • Walking hand in hand towards camera
    • Walking hand in hand away from camera
    • Looking back at camera
    • Bride cuddled up to Groom arm
    • Facing each other
      • Hands interlocked, looking into each other’s eyes
      • Bride arms around Grooms neck
      • Lean in for a kiss

WEDDING PARTY PORTRAITS

    • WHOLE PARTY
      • Couple with entire wedding party formal
      • Couple in the middle, wedding party mixed up
      • Time permitting: wedding party walking together
    • LADIES
      • Bride with ladies formal
      • Bride with ladies informal
      • Bride with MOH
        • Vertical full body
        • Horizontal hip up
    • GUYS
      • Groom with guys formal
      • Groom with guys informal
      • Groom with BM
        • Vertical full body
        • Horizontal hip up

FAMILY PORTRAITS

    • ENTIRE
      • Couple with both sets of parents, all siblings, spouses, kids, grandparents
      • Couple with both sets of parents, all siblings
      • Couple with both sets of parents
    • BRIDE
      • Couple with bride’s parents, siblings
      • Bride with mom
      • Bride with siblings
    • GROOM
      • Couple with groom’s set, siblings
      • Groom with dad
      • Groom with siblings

CEREMONY

    • Ceremony location (external, internal)
    • Ceremony area decor: florals, signage, arch
    • Programs
    • Groom waiting
    • Wedding party walking down the aisle
    • Flower kids/ring bearer
    • Bride walking down the aisle
    • Groom reaction
    • Giving away Bride
    • Parent and guest reactions during ceremony
    • Family and friends doing readings, singing songs, etc
    • Musicians playing
    • Exchange of rings
    • Kiss
    • Couple walking up the aisle
    • Couple kissing at end of aisle
    • Post-ceremony candids – congratulations giving, guests greeting one another, etc.

COCKTAIL HOUR

    • Decor, florals
    • Appetizers and special drinks being served
    • Signage
    • Bar area
    • Guests enjoying cocktail hour
    • Couple arriving to cocktail hour
    • Wide frame of full cocktail hour taking place
    • Formal guest photos (couples and groups, as requested)

RECEPTION

    • Exterior details of reception location
    • Full reception area
    • Dining table
    • Place setting angled
    • Place setting overhead
    • Centerpiece and floral arrangements
    • Signage
    • Place cards
    • Cake
    • Guest photos per requests (couples/groups)
    • Introductions
    • First dance
    • Toasts
    • Couple’s reactions to toasts
    • Parent dances
    • Cake cutting
    • Band or DJ
    • Gift/card box
    • Plated meals
    • Desserts
    • Favors
    • Wide shot of dance floor
    • Dancing
    • Time permitting: portrait of couple at sunset or after dark
    • Reception exit, where applicable