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I was hired recently to edit weddings for a client who’s new to the wedding video business. The source footage from the first wedding he shot was pretty terrible. There were no close ups during the ceremony. There wasn’t a clear shot of the bride and groom exchanging rings.. HE MISSED THE FIRST KISS.

There was also no audio, but that is a whole different article right there. It was clear that he did not plan ahead where and what to shoot. Additionally, it was obvious he did not know the big moments he needed to look out for and when they were going to happen. How can you avoid a similar disaster when shooting a wedding? I personally believe that there is never too much footage. Having extra footage to discard is better than not having enough.


Have A Shot List!


If you are a wedding videographer who is unexperienced with shooting weddings, carry a shot list with you and keep going back to reference it. Eventually, you won’t need it. However, you will always want to keep a page of notes listing any requests from the bride and groom. Know the order of events of a wedding. This will help you keep a look out for everything listed on your wedding shot list. When I edit a wedding video, I break up the day of the event into large sections:

  • Pre-ceremony
  • Wedding Ceremony
  • After Ceremony, but before Reception
  • Reception

Additionally, I break down each of these sections into specific moments I expect to see within each of these parts of the day. You will see these additional pieces as I detail for you the shots you should prepare for.


The 6 Shots You CANNOT MISS


wedding couple kissing at beach
If you forget to bring your wedding shot list with you, these are the six shots that need to be burned into your memory. My personal opinion is if you miss one of these moments, you owe your bride and groom a partial refund.

  • Groom waiting at the alter
  • Bride walking down the aisle
  • Vows / rings
  • First kiss
  • First dance
  • Cake cutting


Pre-ceremony Shot List


wedding hair
I like to break down the pre-ceremony into three parts:


1. The Bride

  • Getting ready
  • With bridesmaids
    • There may be gifts exchanged, champagne shared, or simply shots of all of them in their fancy robes.
  • Interview
    • When did you know she was the one?
    • “What I love about her…”


2. The Groom

  • Getting ready
  • With groomsmen
    • There may be gifts exchanged, toasts and general light hearted joking around.
  • Interview
    • When did you know she was the one?
    • “What I love about her…”


3. Arriving to the ceremony site

  • Establishing shots of the ceremony site
  • Bride’s car arriving/Bride getting out of car
  • Shots of the inside of the wedding ceremony venue
    • Chairs
    • Alter
    • decorations
    • flowers


Additional Moments

  • Bride and Groom first looks
    • Many couples now will video and photograph the moment where they see each other for the first time. Often, this is done by standing the bride and groom back to back and have them turn around simultaneously to see each other. However, not all couples do this as many still believe it is bad luck to see each other before the wedding.


The Wedding Ceremony Shot List


Asian wedding couple

My personal shot list for the wedding ceremony always includes more than I will actually need. I would rather have too much footage than not enough. I keep this wedding shot list in chronological order. For the most part, all weddings have a similar order of events. I tend to highlight or embolden the more important shots I need to grab for each specific event.

  • Groom walking in
  • Everyone down the aisle
  • Everyone standing up for bride
  • Groom reaction shot waiting
  • Bride appears
  • Groom reaction to seeing bride
  • Bride down aisle
  • Dad handing bride to groom
  • Bride and groom approaching alter together
  • “Will you enter marriage…” “I will”
  • Vows
  • Rings
  • Kiss
  • Leave down the aisle
  • Leaving the ceremony site
    • Sometimes this is where you will see guests throw rice or blow bubbles.
    • I have seen the newlywed couple release a pair of doves right outside the church. (How to film weddings in churches)


Additional Moments

Many weddings will have moments of traditions that aren’t necessarily part of the typical shot sheet. Hopefully you will be informed of these by the couple, but if not, you need to be ready for these moments and prepared to shoot them. These are usually cultural, religious or family traditions.


After The Ceremony & Before The Reception


couple kissing at the entres
After the wedding, before the reception is typically the cocktail hour. This is the opportunity to get shots that you might want for your highlight or trailer video, but might not have the opportunity to collect later.

  • Establishing shots of the venue and the inside set up
  • Post wedding interviews with the bride and groom
  • Photo shoot with the couple and their wedding party
  • Cocktail hour itself


The Reception


bride tossing the bouquet at wedding


For me personally, filming the reception is significantly less stressful than filming the wedding ceremony. I have shot sheet with bullet points to look out for and most of them are at the beginning of the reception. Toward the end of the party is the cake. Once that happens, I keep an eye on the clock so I am ready for the bride and groom’s last dance. In between all of that, I get shots of the party as it happens.

  • Establishing shots of reception area and venue if missed during cocktail hour
  • Wedding party introductions
  • Bride and groom intro
  • First dance
  • Toasts
  • Bride and dad/ groom and mom dances
  • Lots of dancing
  • Any candid intimate moments with bride and groom
  • Cake
  • Bouquet/garter tosses
  • Last dance
  • Last kiss
  • Bride and groom leaving (if a thing is made of it)




camera filmning a bride and groom

Filming a wedding can be a bit of a scary task.  If you were to miss specific moments, it can be devastating enough for you to need to give your client a partial refund. However, missing these crucial moments is completely preventable if you are prepared.

  • Take the time to prepare your equipment before the event.
  • Ask the bride and groom for a list of requested shots.
  • Prepare yourself a wedding shot sheet to follow and bring it with you to the wedding.
  • Shoot more footage than needed.

If you do these things, you will be able to successfully video a wedding.


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