Destination weddings have taken the photography business to a whole new level. Once reserved only for the elite bride and groom, now many couples are choosing to have destination wedding as an opportunity to spend more time with their families and friends in a gorgeous locale and make the entire wedding an ‘experience’ to remember for a lifetime. As photographers, we have an awesome opportunity to shoot in exotic venues and jet-set across the globe – it’s incredible! As much fun as it can be, you have to know what you’re getting into to make sure your clients (and you!) have an amazing experience.
Successfully shooting a wedding at an unfamiliar location takes preparation, constant communication with your clients and an understanding of the wedding process, whether you are shooting in the US or abroad.
Here are a few tips to help you navigate the process of photographing a destination wedding:
- Communicate with your clients (especially your bride) frequently. Since you can’t meet at the local coffee shop or at your studio to browse the contract or discuss album design, you have to rely on the abundance of technological options to make that personal connection. Friend your clients on Facebook, interact with them through video chat or Facetime on your iPhone. Get to know what makes them, well, them, the same way you would with a local client. Go the extra mile, and your couple will be even happier when you show up and they feel like they already know you.
- ALWAYS – and I don’t say this lightly – always carry your gear onto the plane. Always. Only check the stuff you could live without if it were lost or damaged (i.e. light stands, tripods). It might be hard to find a Nikon D3x body in Fiji. Maybe not, but I wouldn’t risk it.
- Have a timeline and set your watch to the new time zone before you even get on the plane.
- Make sure you map out several stores near your destination that could supply you with last-minute replacements if gear is lost or damaged.
- Have a responsible travel plan. I always fly my second shooters to the location 1-3 days before I arrive. Your clients will feel more confident when you and/or your staff arrive early, giving them one less (major) detail to worry about. If you can hire local second shooters whose work you trust, do it! All the better to have a local connection, especially if you haven’t shot at this location previously. Always copy your clients and their coordinator on your travel itineraries as well so they know exactly when to expect your arrival.
- The night of the wedding, send an email to the newlyweds with a few images from their special day. They will love you forever for it!!
Hopefully these tips will help you when you book that amazing destination wedding. To learn more about the techniques I use – with regards to marketing, booking clients, and shooting these fabulous weddings, sign up today for one of my comprehensive workshops. There are still a few openings for our Mexico workshop June 16-18 and Puerto Rico workshop, July 11-15, where you will have the opportunity to shoot a destination wedding!
Written by Laura Parker
Laura Parker is an international wedding photographer and entrepreneur based out of Frisco, Texas. Skyrocketing from Craigslist to Grace Ormonde’s Platinum List in 3 years, Laura has experience working with brides of all price points and locales, and understands the intricacies of shooting a destination wedding. She is an avid traveler, mom and cook, and treasures spending time with her husband and children.