Wedding Photos You Can’t Miss

No doubt you’ve thought about the “must have” photos on your wedding day. We’ve shot plenty of weddings. And we’ve looked through more Pinterest pins than any other human alive. At least it feels that way. And we often get asked, “What are the ‘must have’ wedding photos?”

Before we run down our list of 12 must have wedding photos, let me tell you there are tons of great moments on your wedding day. And the many moving parts & uncontrollable parts of a wedding can dictate some really special photos. And you never know what you're going to get. There are lots of moments that will happen almost every time. "You may now kiss your bride" is one of those. However, there are more elusive moments like when the groom gets a great look at his bride as she is coming to the altar. Read to the end and see an epic rained out wedding day photo. Reminder: this list is a broad generalization. And it’s our list. In fact, you should have your own list. And be sure you tell your photographer. We always ask for a shot list to accompany the time line.

One more thing: we do all our own editing, but we are always learning new techniques and processes like the ones at ShootDotEdit. Want to learn more, go HERE. 

Weddings are all about moments - precious moments!

Weddings are all about moments - precious moments!

12 Must Have Shots

So now on to how we got the 12 “must have” shots. We think of weddings as art. And all good art has primary, secondary and tertiary pieces. And the “must have” wedding photos need to be juxtaposed to the secondary and tertiary photos. There will be a rhythm and flow to your wedding. The “must have” moments will be very evident and very illusive. And because they vanish so quick, your photographer must be ready and on high alert.

On your wedding day we think these photos will tell most of the story. As I said, the others are also very necessary to fill in the gaps and tie moments together.


1. Sunrise or sky

This may not be obvious. But we think one great photo of the location & the sky above it tell the beginning of your wedding day. This photo sets the scene; sets the stage. And this photo sets the emotions of the magic that is about to unfold. Hint: Ask your photographer for this. In 25 years you'll be glad you did.

Sunrise over Maryville, TN on a perfect September wedding day. The tree standing guard, the fencerow & rolling fields that leads to the mountains, the clouds and color of the sky, and, the sun just before it rises all tell of the calm, poetic beauty on this perfect September wedding day.

2. Bride with mom

The bride below just received a locket with a photo of her father. He had passed away a few years earlier. This was a total surprise from her mother. I also love her sister is in the background. Hint: If Please let your photographer know if there is an important moment. We can only be in one place.

Bride tears up as she receives locket with photo of her deceased father.

3. Dad seeing the bride the first time

This is such a powerful moment. Fathers are always the most nervous and they hide it better than anyone. But this particular Air Force Colonel could not hold back his emotions. Hint: Include a "dress Reveal" on your timeline. It's 15 minutes of pure love.

Father of the bride tears up as he sees his daughter for the first time

4. Bride coming down the aisle

This is a moment we are in place for. It doesn't always happen. But when it does, it's pure magic! Hint: Ask your photographer to attend rehearsal. Ceremony moments are easier to capture once we know where everyone will be.

Groom getting a good look at the bride being escorted by her father. MUST HAVE SHOT!

5.     Groom seeing the bride the first time

This is similar to the previous moment. The last few years "First Look" has become very common. We recommend a first look because this may be the only 15 minutes you have together without tons of folks around. Hint: First Look is vital if your wedding day is a large production or several hours long. Without First Look you'll get very little alone time.

Groom wipes the tears of his bride. Such a tender moment.

6. First Kiss 

The words, "You may now kiss the bride" or "You may now seal your vows with a kiss" are THE highlight of the day. All the stress vanishes. And all the fun begins. Hint: This is for the groom. Lean in and KISS the bride. Kiss her like you mean it!

First kiss - THE moment of the day!

7. Bride and Groom walking out

We are always on ready for emotions to be let out as the couple walks out of the ceremony. As discussed above, with the stress is gone, many couples are ready for the celebration to begin. We remind our couples to bask in that moment. Hint: Get a second shooter for multiple vantage points. Moments are fleeting.

Bride & Groom walk down the aisle with groom giving a high 5 to a guest

Love the look on her face! She is all smiles and he strong & confident!

Love the look on her face! She is all smiles and he strong & confident!

8. Introduction of Bride & Groom or traditional celebration

After the couple's photo session, it's time to be introduced to the guests. This is a super fun moment! This is your wedding - celebrate!!! Or sometimes there is a religious celebration like the Hora where the couple is hoisted into the air on chairs. Hint: When you celebrate, give your guests something to cheer about.

Bride & groom celebrate with hands held high as they enter the reception after being introduced

Bride & groom celebrate the Jewish tradition the "Hora" being lifted into the air in chairs!

9. First Dance

The First Dance is is always a tender moment. It's often cramped with guests being too close. With all the smart phones, folks want their own version of this moment. We love when the guests step back. Hint: don't sing to each other. Your faces will look odd and distorted. Hint: Tell your DJ to ask folks to back up and put away their smart phones. Let this moment be all it can.

Bride & groom share their first dance. We love it when the guests give space for this moment.

10. Cake Cutting (and smashing)

We love when the bride gives the groom a face full of cake! This is one those moments that you're either into it or not. If you are into making a mess, don't hold back! Hint: Don't ever let the groom know you are going to do this. He'll block you.

Bride smashes cake in the groom's face!

11. Send Off

We love a good send off. Bubbles are great option. AS a couple you must own this moment! Hint: Make sure to have room for everyone. And we like the bridal party to be at the end. 

Bride holds her bouquet high, holding the groom's hand as they walk through thousands of bubbles.

12. Killer shot of the bride or the couple

Every wedding has many, many moments. But your wedding photos are not complete with a stunning photo of the bride. An amazing shot of the couple is equally important. After all, this is a wedding of two people. As promised, scroll down to see the epic rainy wedding day photo. Hint: Let the day unfold as it will. Don't try to add "Pinterest poses" as they take too much time and aren't authentic.

Bride gently looks over her shoulder as she heads through a set of stately doors.

Bride and groom stand below the remnant of Hurricane Nate. This was the only moment of the day when it wasn't raining.

These are the 12 “must have” photos that we love. And it's our list. You should create your own. and tell your wedding photographer. I am sure there are others that we’ve not thought of or captured before. We’d love to hear what your 12 “must have” wedding photos are.


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