Wedding photography: your 12 essential shots

When it comes to photos, there are a dozen snaps that you really should have. Here’s how to put together your very own greatest hits album…

By Charlotte Buxton

1. The girls getting ready

What better way to memorialise a joyous morning of chatting and giggles as you prepare for your big moment than a picture of you and your bridesmaids together? “As well as pics of the bridesmaids ready to go, with their dresses on and holding their bouquets, I like to take a ‘before’ shot – when the girls’ hair and makeup is done but they’re still in their pyjamas,” says Jennifer Lorenz from Jenniflower Weddings and Photography. “It helps if the bed is made so that the backdrop to the picture is nice and tidy. Make sure there aren’t plastic bags or bits and pieces lying around that you don’t want cluttering up the background.”


2. The little details

Whether it’s the bride’s perfume and jewellery, or the groom’s tie and cufflinks, the personal items you’ve chosen for the day are all part of your wedding story. Daniel Rannoch, one half of Fern Photography, explains: “These are often gifts the bride and groom have given to each other, which make them very special, so we always try to capture them. They can create lovely images that punctuate the album and help to tell the story of the day.”


3. The bride being collected by her father

Seeing his little girl dressed up for her big day is an emotional moment for any father, and one you’ll want to look back on for years to come. “I position myself so that I can put the bride out of focus and capture her father’s face as he walks in,”says Daniel. Grahame Smith, from GWS Photography, says it’s such an emotional moment, you won’t even notice the photographer is there. “I’ll be shooting over the bride’s shoulder and then I’ll quickly move round and get the same scene from the father’s perspective.”


4-5 The groom greeting the guests and getting out of the wedding car

4. While the bride is putting the final touches to her outfit or is en route to the ceremony, the groom will be at the venue already, full of pre-wedding nerves. “You can get great shots of nervous grooms chatting to relatives and friends,” says photographer George Lammie. “This is a part of the day that the bride will only see in the photos, so you have to capture the essence of what goes on.”

5. Arriving at the venue just moments before you get married is a feeling you’ll never forget, so it’s essential to capture it for your album. Most grooms won’t see it happen, so this picture is evidence you travelled in style. “I always try to get a picture of the bride’s foot touching the ground as she gets out of the car,” Jennifer says. “I don’t prepare people for it – it only works if it’s natural – but nine times out of ten it happens.”


6. Walking down the aisle

It’s finally time to walk down the aisle – and after all those months of planning, it’s a moment you’ll want to relive again and again. Having two photographers is useful here in order to capture the reaction of both bride and groom. “I want the groom to look up as the bride walks down the aisle,” Grahame says. “Some people say it’s bad luck, but you’ll regret it if you don’t. I tell the best man to give the groom a little pat on the shoulder as the bride enters so he knows to look round, and I take the shot from there.”


7. Exchanging the rings

Saying your vows and exchanging rings is the very heart of the whole wedding – these are images you’ll treasure forever. “There’s always a solemn moment when the couple pick up the ring, and then they tend to start laughing when they put it on as this wave of joy comes through,” Daniel says. “We always take close-ups and wider shots of this so that we can capture the whole moment.”


8. The kiss

Once you’ve said ‘I do’, it’s time for your first kiss as husband and wife. And while the first feels significant, Grahame has enough experience to know the best picture usually comes just afterwards. “People always break away from the first kiss, as they’re often a little embarrassed, but then they’ll kiss again – and this is a better picture. Try to make the kiss last, and don’t feel shy – it’s your big day!”


9. Walking out the venue/confetti shot

A picture of the bride and groom hand in hand as they leave the ceremony is a wedding album staple. Expect huge smiles, clapping guests and a confetti blizzard. For Jennifer, the secret to the perfect confetti shot is choreography. “I ask people to throw on the count of three and to do it as if they’re throwing a basketball, rather than outwards. With so much movement, I use a fast shutter speed in order to get the right shot.”


10. Couple shots

You’re looking your best, and you’ve got a professional photographer on hand – it makes sense to take a few moments away from the party for some pictures of the two of you. For the best photos, Daniel says, walk towards or away from the camera. “People have a tendency to look at their feet when they walk, though, so make sure you smile and keep your head up,” he says. “And forget about the photographer – we try to be inconspicuous, as that’s when the best pictures happen.”


11. Family group shots

When else will your whole family be together, happy and looking their best? Make the most of the moment by having some group portraits taken – your parents will be delighted. “If you only have a small window of opportunity, I’d recommend taking pictures of the two mothers’ and the two fathers’ sides of the family. It means you can cover everyone in four shots,” George says. “These pictures need to be informal. I always ask someone to help me gather people together, and I invite guests to take pictures of the shots I’m taking. It helps make those being photographed laugh, and the guests love it.”


12. The first dance

No album is complete without a shot of your first turn on the dancefloor as husband and wife. Whether you’ve got a routine prepared or are going for an old-fashioned slow dance, give your photographer advance warning. “One of our couples danced to ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams and photographing their friends and family reacting was just as important as the dance itself,” Daniel says. “Thankfully, the couple told us about it in advance so we could work out how best to capture it.”