Whether you are getting married on a beach in St. Bart’s or in a historic chateau in France’s Loire Valley, the process of planning a destination wedding presents a whole unique set of decisions – but it is also incredibly rewarding! And the fact that you can turn site visits and vendor meetings into a mini holiday just makes the wedding planning process that much more memorable.
When we decided to have a destination wedding, I knew we first needed to decide what kind of setting we wanted to get married in. For us that was an easy decision – a wine country wedding for us would be the perfect mix of European elegance and organic romance that we both gravitate towards. Next, booking a venue. This is critical because in order to decide on a wedding date you need to understand the availability of your venue. Once your venue is booked and you decide if you are going to work with a wedding coordinator (highly recommended), the most important decision you will make during the rest of the planning process is hiring your wedding photographer.
Here are my tips on how to book a destination wedding photographer:
Aesthetic. For me, this is the first and the most important decision to make in regards to choosing a wedding photographer. Spend some time and look through your Pinterest boards, wedding magazines, and wedding blogs. Anything that speaks to you visually, save it. Create a file of photos you like – it can be digital or even a physical mood board (you can see mine here). Once you have collected images, look at them for a pattern. Are they bright and colorful? Dark and moody? Ethereal and romantic? Find a few words you describe the aesthetic, and keep those words in mind when looking through photography portfolios.
Style. Look through those pictures again and see what kind of emotion they convey. Do you like elegantly styled imagery? Photo-journalistic style candids? Pictures with a sense of humor? A more fine art approach? Perhaps a combination of several different styles? Think about it and keep those styles in mind when looking through portfolios.
Photographer’s personality. Once you understand the photographic aesthetic and style that you gravitate towards, spend time researching destination wedding photographers whose work falls into these categories. Spend some time on their website and their social media channels getting to know their style and their personality. If you think they might be a good fit, contact them and set-up time to connect via Skype or FaceTime. Finding a photographer who you connect with on a personal level is so important, as they will be by your side for the entire wedding day. You want someone who understands your vision and style, and most importantly who you will feel comfortable with. Ideally they should feel like yet another friend by your side on your wedding day!
Destination vs. local photographer. If you are getting married in a popular wedding location, chances are that there are a plethora of local photographers – some of whom have probably shot at your venue several times before. My personal opinion is that a destination wedding photographer offers a unique perspective and service that most traditional wedding photographers do not.
First of all, the fact that they have traveled specifically for your wedding means that they will be fully present in the moment. They don’t have any other obligations or appointments they need to worry about – quite simply their only goal is to beautifully capture your wedding story.
Secondly, imagine this: You’re an American living in Paris. The first time you saw the Eiffel Tower was a moment you will remember for the rest of your life. You were in absolute awe over it’s sheer magnificence and beauty. It may have even brought tears to your eyes. Fast forward a few months, and at that point when you walk by the Eiffel Tower you hardly notice it. For a photographer who has shot the same venue time and time again, it can sometimes feel more like a job than a creative expression of art. A destination wedding photographer will look at your location, your venue, and your love with a sense of awe and inspiration.
Lastly, many destination wedding photographers (including myself) will include additional services in their wedding packages. For example, I offer all couples a complimentary two hours of coverage which they can use to capture their rehearsal dinner or as a pre-wedding session. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to spend more time with you as a couple and for us to capture those electric moments leading up to the wedding day. Destination weddings are typically in gorgeous locations, so having the opportunity to document even more of your love story in such a wonderful setting is absolutely priceless.
I hope these tips on how to book a destination wedding photographer make the wedding planning process a little easier for you. For more resources you can see why I had a destination wedding (and why it was the BEST decision I could have made) and some of my absolute favorite destination wedding locations. If you are a bride or groom and are in the process of planning a destination wedding – congratulations! I would be honored to travel the world to capture your love, and would love nothing more than to connect with you to learn about your engagement and your wedding plans. Feel free to contact me any time!
Image via The Why We Love