and why I recommend doing it as little as possible.
Most weddings are not well oiled machines. The people involved, aside from the vendors, very rarely spend every single weekend intimately involved with the logistical details of a large scale event.
Yes, there are exceptions (ie: a bride who is a higher education event planner, a parent who works in the wedding industry, a few bridesmaids who have been in 5+ weddings, a groom who runs an event rental company) but for the sake of this blog post and because it’s the norm, most often, the couple, their parents and the wedding party are not experts at wedding logistics.
That post is written with all of those factors in mind. Moving locations on your wedding day can be an incredibly stressful thing that most couples don’t anticipate.
On paper, or in your mind, you think - No big deal. It’s just the hotel for the girls, the house for the guys, a pretty first look spot, the church, a portrait location and the reception. Easy peasy.
From a logistical standpoint, it’s likely that your photographer (and possibly videographer) and crying when they hear this. Couples don’t often realize it, but any time there is a location change, it’s the fastest way for a timeline to get completely derailed and the wedding day to be come insanely chaotic. The stress of wedding days are ALWAYS in the transitions.
There are 4 big things to consider about bouncing from location to location in abundance on your wedding day:
TRAFFIC: If Google Maps says it’s a 15 minute travel time from location to location, I’m always going to calculate that at 20 minutes or even 25 to be safe if it’s a holiday weekend, a city prone to traffic or during the lunch or dinner hours on a weekend. While we may never hit traffic, what if we did? We don’t want to be late for the ceremony or reception or sacrifice the photos we went to this location for in the first place.
LOADING/UNLOADING + PARKING: It always takes me at least 3 minutes to get in my car, secure my gear and pull my GPS up for the next location. In some instances we have to find parking or park a bit of a distance away from where we’ll actually be shooting. This, of course, takes additional time. The couple and whoever else are moving locations may need to do this too. Maybe there’s ordering and waiting for an Uber, communicating with your trolley, party bus or limo driver or finding your own parking. I’ve honestly had instances where I’ve wasted 15 minutes just looking for parking. And I’m an excellent parallel parker. ;)
GATHERING THE GROUP: If we’re moving locations with a wedding party of any size (but especially a large one) it’s really key to consider the personalities of those in your group. Will they be drunk? Will they want to chat and not pay attention? Will it be like herding cats? Do you trust them all to follow instructions and be prompt? Listen, I know this sounds rude of me but sometimes working with wedding parties is like wrangling drunk toddlers. They’re not focused on the job that I need to do - why would they be?! Moving locations can add to the stress of the couple when the wedding party are on a different time table (and sometimes planet) than the couple.
YOUR INVESTMENT: With your photography (and possibly videography) team, it’s really likely that you’re investing in a set amount of coverage by the hour. Coverage does not start and stop during location changes - it’s consecutive. Any time you spend changing locations and traveling is time that you have invested in your photographer that they’re not actually shooting. I have worked weddings where more than an hour of their coverage time was spent changing locations. It adds up very quickly! It’s a waste of good light!
There are a lot of factors that I listed above that are completely out of my control and the couple’s. But there are ways to minimize the stress.
You can ensure a smooth and calm wedding day by:
Keeping your wedding day from 1 - 2 locations when at all possible. Before you start booking venues and making concrete plans, think about this!
Can you have your ceremony and reception at the same location?
Could you get ready at your reception site and only have to move locations to the ceremony?
Do you love any venues where you can be for the entirety of the day (getting ready, ceremony and reception)? This is hands down, ALWAYS best.
If you need to change locations frequently, have a solid, well thought out plan and work with your photographer to include this in the timeline. Communicate the details and expectations very clearly to everyone involved. Remember to include lots of buffer time for unexpected, uncontrollable influences like traffic and parking. Understand that this is less images that you’ll be receiving from your photographer because of their movements too.
Consider hiring a party bus, limo, trolley or some kind of transportation where the entire wedding party can be moved together rather than splitting up.
If when you’re thinking about your dream wedding day and your only desire is for it to be easy breezy, joyful and stress-free, then I highly recommend changing locations as little as logistically possible. Hands down, without question the weddings that I remember as being upbeat, positive, drama free and relaxed were those that took place at one location. 10/10. Every time.
If you loved this post, you might also enjoy: