Here are a few tricks for creating a shot list that covers all the essential pictures you want, while also leaving you with plenty of time to socialize with your most favorite people in the world.
Don't Include Every Photo You Want Taken At Your Wedding
A wedding shot list doesn’t need to be a detailed list of every picture your photographer will take. It simply needs to the have the “must haves” that aren’t ridiculously obvious to a professional photographer.
Obvious pictures are things like you and your partner exchanging rings, having your first dance, and cutting the cake. Pictures that are not so obvious are things like which family members you want to take pictures with and how your family should be grouped, and any other details that are meaningful to you that your photographer wouldn’t know about, like a grandmother’s pin on your dress, or a prop you brought to take pictures with. The shot list is to capture all the not-so-obvious pictures, so that’s what you want to spend your time brainstorming.
And to be sure you’re providing the most helpful information as possible to your photographer, ask him or her what you should include on the shot list as well. Some photographers will even help you come up with the list in one of your pre-wedding consultations, so make sure to check in before getting too far along in the process, because it might be even simpler than you think.
Create Your Wedding Shot List Early
One of the best things to do to avoid ending up with a shot list that is the length of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace is to make it well in advance before the wedding — I recommend a month in advance to my DIY Wedding Mentor clients when possible. If you wait until the days before the wedding, it’s tough to be discerning about what shots to include, and what shots not to include when you’re creating it in between last-minute errands and appointments.
Take As Many Pictures As Possible Before The Wedding Ceremony
If you’re comfortable doing a first look, it takes a lot of post-ceremony pressure off you and your partner, because it allows you to take the vast majority of photos before the ceremony. Couple portraits before the ceremony? Yep. Family photos? Yep. Wedding party photos? Yep. The only pictures you need to squeeze in after the ceremony are any essential photos with people who may not be getting ready or spending time with you before the ceremony.
Combine And Conquer
There are some pretty lengthy wedding photography lists out there, and one way to maximize the effectiveness of your list while still keeping it short is to combine photos as much as possible. For instance, instead of spending a lot of time on photos of you getting ready, and then with your wedding party later on, use the getting ready time to squeeze in a few quality pictures with your wedding party and maid of honor or best man. Some family pictures can also be incorporated into that getting ready time as well. Whenever possible, think of ways that you can have one picture serve multiple purposes.
Bring A Wedding Photography Detail Bag
The photo detail bag is one of my favorite photography suggestions that I heard of from the talented photographer Ashley Largesse. She says that in order to save time and to make sure that the details that you want are captured, bring a little bag that you can hand to your photographer rather than having him or her try to track down the details that you want. The bag can include anything important to you such as invitations, jewelry, accessories, keepsakes, and more. Check out the Ashley Largesse blog for other ideas of what to include.
Ask This ESSENTIAL Question
If you’re on the fence about whether to include a picture on your shot list or not, ask yourself this question: Would I frame it or pay extra money to include it in a photo album? Frames and photo albums are where most wedding photos end up. When it comes to albums these days, you often have a limit as to how many pictures can be included, and you have to pay more money for extra pages. So if the picture wouldn’t make the chopping block for a frame or a photo album, then it’s probably not important enough to take up time on your wedding day.
If you’re in need of some brainstorming help to get you started, check out this list of pictures to take on your wedding day for some inspiration — and remember that some of the the best wedding pictures can’t be planned. As long as you spend some time thinking about what photos you absolutely want, your photographer (and fate!) will take it from there.
This post also appeared on Bustle.com.