The Wedding Day Call Sheet: Part 1 – The Morning

The Wedding Day Call Sheet: Part 1 – The Morning


Wedding celebrations can obviously vary widely across faiths and cultures, so take the time to find out what parts of the day or series of days you’ll need to cover before you meet the prospective clients, as this will affect not only your fee, but you’ll need to ensure you have the time, resources and ability to cover everything needed.

Image by Kudumomo

The rundown below follows a typical call sheet for non-religious and Christian ceremonies in the UK, so photographers may need to tinker with the agenda to suit the traditions and events that are associated with weddings from other countries and religions to ensure the bride and groom receive coverage of everything they would be expecting.

Bridal Preparation

Image by Francesca Palazzi

At least two hours before the ceremony, you should meet the bride and her bridal party at the venue where she is getting ready. This could be at a hair salon, hotel room or her home. Ask the bride not to start getting ready until you arrive so you can capture images of her having her hair and make-up being done. Position her in front of a mirror and yourself behind and out of shot. You may want to come back for the latter stages of this process – when the bride is starting to look her most glamorous.

Use the time in between to collect the must-have significant details that she’ll want to remember for years to come, for example around the room you’ll find an array of bags, shoes, jewellery, mother of the bride’s hat, make up, tissue paper and even a champagne bottle. Position these delicately on a window ledge to capture them in soft, even light and use a wide aperture to create a creamy backdrop with the object or part of it, in focus.

At some point the flowers will be delivered so take the time to shoot these bouquets individually as well as candids of the mother of the bride fastening the father of the bride’s or young page boy’s buttonholes, as well as the bride’s maids as they collect their bouquets.

Before the bride gets into her gown make sure you get wide shots of the dress hanging up as well as close up captures of any detail. Be sure to record the veil in a similar manner and shooting the bride’s maids dresses in a row can make for a nice image.  Take shots of the bride getting into her dress, as well as the bride’s maids lacing or zipping her up. Then take some time alone with the bride to get some beautiful portraits, using a long mirror behind the bride to capture her back and front.

Before the car comes, get some group shots of the bridal party, such as: the bride with her maids, the bride’s maids on their own, the bride with her parents, and one with everyone together.  When the car arrives take a few stills of the bride and her father in front the car and then take some close up and individual pictures of the care itself. Once you have everything you need head off to meet the groom’s party.

The Groom and his men

Image by Sean Molin

It is becoming more common for the groom to have an equivalent ‘getting ready session’ with his best men and ushers, so if this is the case ensure you have plenty of time to get this in too. Collect ‘staged’ images of the groom having his tie adjusted, laughing with his friends, having a celebratory drink or cigar, fussing in the mirror and even applying cologne. Shoot candids not only of the groom but of his group such as the best man rehearsing his speech, his mum brushing off his shoulders and perhaps his dad looking on full of pride. As with the bridal party, shoot the smaller details such as button hole flowers, cufflinks, shoes, hats and ties. Take some group shots in a variety of poses and including the transportation if needed.

Head to the venue with the men and take some more images here before the guests arrive. Once these are in the bag, potter around the grounds and the ceremony room itself to capture some location and decoration shots. Ensure you are back in time to collect images of the groom meeting the guests as they arrive, as well as shots of the guests seated inside with the groom and best man stood waiting for the bride. Head back outside to receive shots of the bride exiting the car and entering the grounds. Take a few group shots outside the venue and then race in to position at the front of the church to capture her big entrance.

See the Afternoon and Evening Call Sheets

UPDATE: Check out part 2 of this series – The Wedding Day Call Sheet: The Afternoon and part 3 The Wedding Day Call Sheet: The Evening.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Natalie Denton (nee Johnson) Natalie Denton (nee Johnson) is the former editor of Digital Photographer magazine, and is now a freelance journalist and photographer who has written for dozens of photography and technology magazines and websites over the last decade. Recent author and tutor too.

Some Older Comments

  • Carletta October 14, 2011 03:18 am

    Is there a way to print your articles in a printer friendly format?

  • Ita April 24, 2011 08:08 am

    Thank you Jenna for your feedback! Will have to do a 'fake' getting ready shots :-)

  • sallie April 21, 2011 04:44 pm

    thank you sarah I'll give it a go. I guess as long as Im early enough I'll be able to fit it all in :) x

  • Jenna Baze (The Awkward Photographer) April 21, 2011 01:41 am

    Ita: You can do 'fake' getting ready shots with the groom after he arrives at the ceremony location. Have him adjusting his tie, or someone putting on his boutonniere, or tying his shoes.

  • Paul April 20, 2011 01:40 am

    Very good article, well suited to my line of work. Thanks.

  • Ita April 19, 2011 08:14 am

    Great tips. I am due to have my first wedding shoot. I have a bit of a problem... the groom lives about 30 mins drive from the bride. I have no assistants thus it would be impossible for me to do a shoot with the groom and then the bride. What do you suggest me doing? Stage a shoot the night before with the groom?

  • Mike Knight April 19, 2011 01:47 am

    I have a tip aimed mainly at the brides - my daughter will be married this June on a Greek island, and although we have booked an absolute top photographer - she plans to have her make-up done BEFORE he arrives - she has arranged for her make-up artist to linger long enough afterwards to pose for shots that will look like she's making the bride up - when in fact - she's at her best already.

    Might I suggest that many photographers might gain kudos with brides for suggesting that they do the same? It makes sense if you want the bride to be happy........

  • Sarah April 18, 2011 09:07 am

    TO SALLIE: Go to the grooms house first and then the brides afterwards...don't rush...if the bride is ready you take simple shots of putting on earings or doing up the corsett or putting on shoes.

  • sallie April 18, 2011 08:34 am

    Hi Im rather new to wedding photography and Im not thinking of taking it up as a career but I do have 2 weddings this year planned to photograph. It works all round as I am affordable for them and its experience for me :) these tips are fab thank you so much I cant wait to read the other parts too. Just thinking about the weddings I have coming up gets me nervous and excited at the same time but although I love what you have written I now have a new panic... how can I be with the bride getting ready and with the groom getting ready? Id love to do both but I am only one, I have no assistants. What would you suggest? Stay with the bride? Can take pics of the groom later right?

  • Singapore Wedding Photography April 17, 2011 06:31 pm

    I love your first shot. Beautiful
    In Singapore at least, the actual day of wedding is a fully packed full day event. The day usually starts at 5 to 6 am before at the bride's place. Therefore , more emphasis is naturally placed on the bride's side.

    That usually means making sure I know exactly what the couple wants way before the actual day.

  • Jim Weatherhead April 17, 2011 06:11 am

    Liked the comments and tips for the generic wedding photography. I have photographed only 6 weddings so far and have always had the benefit of a second shooter. With the type and quantity of shots we take I can't imagine how I would do it on my own without creating a fuss in the church. I know other photographers do it but I know vicars and registrars that would get a little upset if I rushed back and forth to get the shots. Keep up the good work though and if you can do the solo shoot, good on you.

  • Bill April 15, 2011 06:41 am

    Great article. The Groom and his men shot was an inspiration. How simple yet creative it was to have everyone but the Groom look away. Definitely a "Why didn't I think of that?" moment. Thanks.

  • George E. Norkus April 15, 2011 05:19 am

    Let's hear it for the grooms rights! LoL

  • chew April 13, 2011 11:40 am

    Nice shots. =)

  • Angela April 13, 2011 05:40 am

    Love the groom and groomsmen shot!

  • Paul April 13, 2011 04:49 am

    Great article with some good practical tips. I liked the Groom & Groomsmen shot... very MIB

  • Robert April 13, 2011 04:18 am

    Good read and thanks! Pre-ceremony is prime time for second shooters/assistants -- you can't be two places at once.

  • Jarrod Whitehead April 13, 2011 03:58 am

    Great article, always great to hear how photographers approach assignments.

    Thank you

  • Wayfaring Wanderer April 13, 2011 02:58 am

    Great tips! I have yet to be presented with an opportunity to shoot a wedding.

    However, these details will come in handy when the time finally arrives!

    Thanks for sharing :D


  • Erik Kerstenbeck April 13, 2011 02:37 am


    Great article, thanks for sharing your insights! Having the time to take some non-traditional shots (if the Bride wants to of course) can spice up the Wedding Album!

    Let's Ride:


  • Wedding Planning Guides April 13, 2011 01:06 am

    Thanks for the detailed guide. Do you recommend having an assistant with you so that you can take pictures of the bride and your assistant be in the grooms room? Can be very hectic running between both and many times it seems there wouldn't even be the time for this.

  • Jenna Baze (The Awkward Photographer) April 13, 2011 01:00 am

    Great tips!

    Regarding this: "Ask the bride not to start getting ready until you arrive", I would say "Ask the bride what time she plans to start getting ready and make sure you arrive at that time." I probably wouldn't ask a bride to delay getting ready if she had to wait for me.