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Wedding Photo Shot List

Hands down, the sure-fire way to get all the photos you want is to give your photographer a comprehensive checklist. Here's one that includes the basics and then some.

Pre-Ceremony

Getting Ready: You finishing your hair and makeup, putting on your dress, and hanging out with your girlfriends.

Group Shots: You with your family, your groom with his, and each of you with your wedding parties. (Make sure you alert the photographer to any strained relationships like feuding stepparents who might need to be discreetly separated.)

First Look: If you choose to see each other before the wedding, you'll want to capture your reactions on camera.

Trip to the Ceremony: You and your bridesmaids, and your groom and his groomsmen, on the way to the venue. (If there are two photographers, one can focus on the guys and the other on the girls.)

Inside the Venue: The ceremony space as guests are arriving.

Father and Bride: You with your dad just before walking down the aisle.

Ceremony

Processional: The wedding party, you and your dad, and your groom's reaction.

Vows and Rings: Close-ups of the two of you facing each other.

Your Parents: Close-ups of your folks watching from their seats.

The Participants: Readers, the officiant, musicians, and anyone else with a personal connection to you.

The Kiss: You and your groom making it official, plus the moment right after.

The Recessional: The two of you walking up the aisle as newlyweds.

Cocktail Hour

Bride and Groom: The two of you in private, if you didn't see each other before the ceremony.

Group Shots: The two of you together with your families and the wedding party.

Bride and Groom Leaving for the Reception: You and your husband getting into the car. (It's better to do it now, versus after the reception when it's often dark.)

Candid Shots of Guests: Your loved ones eating, drinking, and chatting. Let your photographer know who your VIPs are to ensure they're included.

Reunion Shots: You with your high school crew or college roommates, your groom with his frat brothers, and so on.

The Reception Space: The details before the crowds descend. (If you don't have a second shooter, you'll have to decide what's more important -- people or details -- so your pro can stay focused.)

Reception

First Dances: You with your husband, you with your dad, and your groom with his mom -- with your guests in the wings.

Toasts: The speakers, you and your husband, and both sets of parents.

Cake Cutting: You and your husband slicing it and taking your first bites.

Bride and Groom Greeting Guests: The two of you mixing and mingling.

Guests Dancing: Close-ups and wide-angles of everyone getting down.

Bride and Groom Leaving: You and your husband saying goodbye.

Get All Your Guests

Want to have something a little bit different to look back on? Consider these ideas.

A Self-Portrait Station

It's the latest twist on the photo booth: First, find a spot at your reception (it can be as simple as a unique door or a hanging fabric backdrop), have your photographer set up lighting and a remote-control camera, then let guests -- or, in the case of this swinging flower girl, their parents -- snap away. "People love this, and it keeps them entertained all night," says Gowdy.

A Stop-Motion Film

In this riff on the traditional wedding video, your photographer takes a series of shots of the same subject and creates a movie, set to music, with the photos progressing one after the other like an old-fashioned flip book. "I once made one of the church filling up with people," says Gowdy. "A short film requires about 50 to 75 shots, but the end result is so unique and fun."