Once you have selected the photographer you want for your wedding you will need to decide what you want to be captured on the day. Depending on how formal or casual your approach is you may want more or less detailed coverage of various parts of the day. Based on many years of experience there are some very common moments or details that could be covered. The following list will help you think through what you want covered and to what extent. Review the list and use it as a starting point for the moments you want your photographer to capture. This will help the photographer to know what you need. Remember things can happen fast and sometimes go off course. Any list you make will be a guideline. No photographer can guarantee that they will get every single image on your list.
Details for both the bride and the groom. For the bride this may include the dress, flowers, rings, garter, shoes, any other jewelry, her vows. For the groom this may include the tie, cufflinks, shoes, rings. The specifics will depend on what you are wearing and is ready to be included. These photos are usually taken before either the bride or groom have dressed, usually while they are getting ready to dress.
Bride and Groom Portraits
These will be individual photos of the bride and groom. Also the bride with the maid of honor and bridesmaids and potentially portraits of the bride with her parents and relatives. This is repeated for the groom on his own, with the best man and groomsmen and any combinations with parents and relatives. These are taken before the formal ceremony if there is time.
First Look (if you doing it)
The First Look is something that some couples choose to do. This is a very personal choice and there are no rules about doing this. If you choose to do a First Look, you will need a private space where the Groom can wait for the Bride to approach and see her fully dressed and ready to go to the ceremony. (This will also give you and your partner a few moments together in private before everything else happens and private moments may be hard to find.)
Candids of the Bride and Groom
This can be done before or after the ceremony depending on timing and if you do a First Look or not. Regardless, you may want to set aside time somewhere on the day to have photos of just the bride and groom together, ideally away from everybody else. This will allow you to relax a little and just enjoy being together for a few moments and to savor them.
Ceremony and Reception
These are the classic moments everybody expects to have and only happen once!
Walking down the aisle.
The First Kiss.
The First Dance. (There are many variations of what couples do for the first dance, and many cultures add color and fun to this as well. Make sure the photographer has a heads-up of anything special you have planned so they are not caught off guard in the moment.)
The Cake Cutting.
Bouquet toss (if you do this).
Garter toss (if you do this).
These are the mostly formal groups of the couple, the bridal party and family in various combinations. Make a list of groupings that you really want. Make sure to include all the names and have someone that knows everybody that can help gather them when needed. The photographer will not know what Uncle Jim looks like, so they cannot go find him. They need to be taking the photographs! If small children and pets are part of the ceremony and included in group photos make sure there is a supervising adult to manage and take care of them
When I prepare for a wedding I provide my couple with a starting list of photographs and go through it with them once they have made their choices to be sure I know what they want, how formal or casual they want the photos to be, and ask them to also tell me about guests that may not be comfortable being next to each other so that they can be placed apart in any groupings that are required. I work with an assistant that helps setup the groups and makes sure all the named people are in the group they should be. This helps the group photo taking to go as quickly as is practical.