15 Epic Moments to Add to Your List of Must Have Wedding Photos

This has been one of my busiest wedding seasons as a Detroit wedding photographer yet, and as summer comes to an end (and fall weddings begin!), I wanted to chat about one of my most frequently asked questions. Do you need to create a list of must have wedding photos? Pinterest will tell you that you do, but as a professional wedding photographer, I am ready to assure you that you don’t. With that said, I will never miss an opportunity to share some of my favorite wedding day moments so today on the blog, I’m sharing 15 epic moments to add to your list of must have wedding photos.

Before you stress about putting together a list of must have wedding photos, don’t forget about all the candid wedding photos that will ultimately end up being your favorite anyway!

groom laughing during wedding ceremony bride and groom smiling during toasts

A Quick Word About Putting Together a List of Must Have Wedding Photos

Before I share a few of my favorite wedding day moments (and in my opinion, must-have wedding photos!), I want to add a quick disclaimer. Capturing these moments is a natural part of my process.

You actually don’t need to put together a list of “must have” wedding photos if you hire an experienced wedding photographer. When couples give me a long list of wedding photos they want (usually from something they saw on Pinterest!), it can actually hinder my creative process. If I am “checking photos off a list”, it will be harder for me to do my job correctly. I want to capture the special moments that are unique to you as a couple on your wedding day. That can’t happen if I have to keep triple-checking a list of must have wedding photos that I likely would have captured anyway.

Although it can be tempting to “over prepare”, remember, this is why you hired your wedding photographer! Hopefully, you chose them because you trusted them to capture your wedding day and all of the incredibly special moments that go with it. That being said, if you have a few must have wedding photos, please don’t hesitate to let me know! If there is a detail you want to make sure is captured, or you are planning something special in your toast or first dance, letting me know ahead of time is never a bad idea. I don’t want to discourage you from considering what you want from your wedding photos, but I do want to reassure you: I’ve got this.

photo of bride and groom outside in spring Detroit

1) Getting Ready Details

Capturing getting ready details is always my favorite way to start a wedding day. A few tips for making the most of this time:

  • Have all of the gorgeous details off to the side before your wedding photographer arrives. That way, I can dive in right away without stealing someone away from hair and makeup to help me find your wedding invitations.
  • Make a list of must have details and make sure to pack them up well in advance of your wedding day.
  • Ask your florist for a few loose florals for us to include in these gorgeous flat lays!

closeup of white wedding shoes and clutch flat lay of wedding invitations, rings, and bridal shoes closeup of tie clip on wedding day

wedding dress with ombre pink bridesmaid dresses

2) A First Look with your Dad and/or Bridal Party

It might be because I’m so close with my dad, but watching a proud dad tear up during the first look with his daughter will always be one of my favorite wedding day moments. It also doesn’t need to be a formally scheduled thing, him showing up at the getting ready location is enough for a few quick photos of the two of you.

The same goes for your bridal party. Although they will likely be with you during hair and makeup, it never hurts to take five minutes away to throw on your wedding dress and shock them with the final result. Be prepared to hear some cheering over how fantastic you look.

first look with dad first look with wedding party bridesmaids

3) Candid Photos of You & Your Best Friends Getting Ready

Bonus points if there is a champagne pop! Other than the detail shots, there often isn’t a list of ‘must have’ getting ready photos. If you are spritzing yourself with perfume or putting on earrings, I’m going to capture it. In between it all though, I’m going to capture you and your closest family and friends simply enjoying your time with one another. And yes – inevitably there will be a round table shot of all the men trying to put on their ties!

bride and bridesmaids with champagne pop bride sitting with flower girls groom and groomsmen putting on ties

4) Your First Look Reactions

If you are having a first look, your reactions to one another HAVE TO be on your list of must have wedding photos. You may want to consider making this a private moment, but I promise that you’ll want your wedding photographer there! If you know you want a first look but aren’t sure what you need to include in your wedding day timeline to make it happen, this is your reminder that I will absolutely help you create a custom no-stress wedding timeline before your wedding day.

bride's reaction during first look groom's reaction during first look bride approaching groom for first look bride's reaction during first look

5) The Way You Look at Each Other Down the Aisle

Whether you have a first look or not, the moment where your eyes lock across the aisle is always pure magic. If you’ve been dying to see his face when you walk down the aisle, trust me: I will be there to capture it every single time.

bride walking down the aisle with her father groom seeing bride for the first time

6) Your Dad Hugging Your Groom at the End of the Aisle

Again, I’m showing the “daddy’s girl” in me. One of my favorite wedding ceremony moments is always when the bride’s father hugs her groom. The bigger the hug, the better. And listen, it might be helpful to tell your dad in advance that this is something he should do! This will likely be covered during the rehearsal but remember your dad might not be the wedding day expert you are and sometimes they can feel a little awkward at the end of the aisle and not know what to do. Prep him in advance, and I will capture this truly special moment between the two of them!

dad hugs groom at the end of the aisle

7) Your Wedding Ceremony Moments (from Multiple Angles)

If your timeline allows, make sure your wedding photographer has the chance to photograph your wedding set up before guests arrive as well! During your wedding ceremony, you’ll likely want to capture your wedding ceremony from multiple angles, including close-ups when you exchange rings, read your vows, or exchange your first kiss as newlyweds. My other favorite? When couples stop mid-aisle during their recessional for a bonus kiss moment!

outdoor wedding ceremony in Detroit aerial view of wedding ceremony closeup of bride and groom at altar kiss during wedding recessional

8) You in Your Getaway Car

Whether you and your wedding party are rocking a limousine, you’ve rented a fun getaway car or all of the fun options in between – you’ll want these on your list of must have wedding photos! If you are booking larger transportation with your wedding party, don’t forget to include space for your photographer so I can capture all the fun you’ll have “on the road”.

bride and groom get into getaway car wedding party photos in golf cart

9) Solo Shots of Both the Bride(s) and Groom(s)

It goes without saying that we will be capturing incredible photos of the two of you, but I never forget to include some solo shots of each of you! After all, this might just be the best you have ever looked (and I am 100% here for it!). We want to celebrate your love for one another but we also want to celebrate YOU.

solo photo of the groom solo photo of the bride

10) An Epic Veil Shot

If you are wearing a veil, you can guarantee that I will capture at least one or two epic veil shots. These photos are one of the main reasons I think you should wear a veil! Tip: you’ll likely need a bridesmaid or second shooter to throw your veil in the air to make the second photo here a reality. It’s so fun though!

bride and groom pose under brides veil veil flows in the wind

11) Wedding Party Portraits

When it comes to wedding party portraits, I try to make them fun. That means a mix of posed photos, and a lot of candids and celebration shots. I will be the first to tell them to cheer as loud as I can to celebrate you two newlyweds. This is also a time when it pays to have an experienced wedding photographer – I can capture a lot of shots very quickly because I know you likely don’t want these photos to take up a lot of time (even though you can’t live without them!).

Trust me when I tell you that you’ll be too busy on your wedding day to soak up these details. Let’s add it to your list of must have wedding photos before that happens!

bride stands with bridesmaids groom poses with groomsmen during outdoor wedding photos wedding party celebrating bride and groom bride hugs ring bearers

12) Your Reception Details (BEFORE guests arrive!)

If you are planning to attend your cocktail hour, let’s budget a few minutes for me to sneak away and capture all of the gorgeous wedding reception details that you have poured your heart and soul into designing over the last 12-18 months. I absolutely love to capture a few photos of how the wedding venue looks set up, and closeups of all of the gorgeous details (from centerpieces to your seating chart and everything in between).

aerial view of wedding reception in Detroit closeup of tall wedding centerpieces wedding table decor at Detroit wedding venue wedding reception at the atrium at the Inn at St Johns

13) Your Grand Entrance

It’s time to celebrate because you are OFFICIALLY married! As you walk into your reception space (even if you were just enjoying cocktail hour with your guests moments before), the first time you are announced as married is a moment you’ll want to remember.

bride and groom enter wedding reception

14) Your First Dance

I love when couples break into their first dance right after their grand entrance. Regardless of when your first dance is though, this moment needs to be added to your list of must have wedding photos. Do you see what I mean about not really needing a list now? These are ABSOLUTELY moments I am going to capture anyway. As your wedding photographer, I will do whatever it takes to capture these major moments, and also the million stolen glances in between.

first dance wedding photos

15) Photos of You On the Dance Floor

You’ve waited a year for this… and I have no doubt you’ll party accordingly! Some of the funniest and most joyful wedding photos I capture are always when the couple finally relaxes. When all of the “wedding day” moments have finished, and they can let loose on the dance floor. Wedding days FLY by, after all.

bride dancing on the dance floor

BONUS: Any & All Photos of Your Dogs

Okay, this one might be a bonus but as a wedding photographer, I LOVE when you include your fur family on your wedding day. Whether they attend the wedding or just keep you company during your getting ready photos, you can guarantee I am capturing any and all photos of your dogs. No need to add that to your list of must have wedding photos!

dogs at a wedding groom poses with dogs

Creating your list of must have wedding photos

I know I have mentioned this about a hundred times, but you really don’t need to stress over putting together a complete list of must have wedding photos. If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to hire a wedding photographer you trust to capture your wedding day, and document all of your memories (big and small). If you think I might be that for you, you can learn more about working with me here. In the meantime, I will be sharing my favorite wedding day moments over on Instagram. Make sure and say hi!


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