Why Your Photographer Needs a Timeline of Your Wedding Day

california destination wedding photographer bride and groom at sunset

Your wedding photographer will often ask for a timeline of the wedding day to ensure that everything runs smoothly and according to schedule. If they don’t, you might want to send them one anyway. And the more detailed it is, the better! Why? Well, I am glad you asked…


No, this is not a UPS commercial. Knowing the various locations that events will be taking place and when they take place on the wedding day is extremely important. Sure, if everything from getting ready to the end of the reception is taking place in one location, things are fairly simple. But if a couple is getting ready in separate places, getting married in a different location than the reception and/or traveling to another location for portraits, things can start to get difficult. Which leads me to my next point…

Travel Time

Always build a cushion into your travel time. Why? Because you don’t know what the travel conditions will be like on the day of the wedding. You may be running a few minutes late. There might be heavy traffic. I once had a couple who wanted to take portraits at six different locations in Manhattan…over the course of one hour…on a Friday during ‘rush hour’. It just wasn’t going to happen. Luckily, they told me about this plan so that I could give them my opinion and we narrowed down the locations to those we could best manage in the given time frame.

The Who, What, When, and Where of Wedding Portraits

I often ask couples for a detailed list of who they want in portraits taken on the day of the wedding, what the groupings will be, when we will be taking those pictures, and where each set of portraits will be taken.

Why is this so important? Well, depending on the size of the groups photos can take more time and I like to help streamline that process. Also, couples may want to take different sets of pictures at different times of the day, or they might want to get them all out of the way at once. Whatever the case, I want to make sure the process runs smoothly and that my couples get to spend as much time enjoying their wedding day without worrying that their pictures will eat up their entire schedule.

Sidenote: You may need a permit to take pictures in certain locations, depending on the number of people you have. Your photographer should know whether or not that is the case. As long as you let them know the plan far enough in advance, they can let you know how to get the permit.

Timing is Everything

Why does the photographer need to know when your transportation is scheduled to arrive? Or when your toasts are scheduled for? Or when any special dances are taking place? They are going to be at the reception anyway so does it really matter? Yes. There are a lot of moving parts at a wedding and depending on how large the reception is the photographer may be off in a corner taking a picture (or, Heaven forbid, using the bathroom) when a toast or dance starts. I also like to know when a couple is planning to leave any location so that I can make sure to have all of my gear packed up and ready to go when the time arrives.

I offer my clients “unlimited” coverage as a standard on the day of the wedding because often there are delays of some sort and generally I do not want the couple to be worried about when I have to leave and if an overtime charge is going to kick in. But if you do have your photographer for a set amount of time, the schedule can help them greatly so they know to approach you about getting certain photos before they leave. I always ask my couples shortly before I am scheduled to finish if there are any more pictures they would like to take. That way, in case we missed something, we have a chance to make it happen

A big part of getting great photos is knowing where to be and when. If you don’t help your photographer, you make it more difficult for them to help you. Please feel free to share this article and let me know in the comments section if there are any other topics you would like to see me cover in the future!


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