Designation Weddings are super fun to shoot and it’s always exciting to travel to a new location, but there are a few dos and don’ts that I’ve leaned over the years. Here are 10 tips when shooting a Destination Wedding that will help you get started.

1. I can’t stress this enough – Never part with your gear! I think this is probably a no-brainer for most professional photographers, but it’s worth mentioning. I’ve seen some miserable travelers with lost checked luggage, and I can’t even imagine what it would be like as a Wedding Photographer with missing gear. There’s not always a camera store where you’re flying, and even if there is, there’s not always time. Although I prefer to arrive a day or so before my scheduled shooting time (usually at least two days before the actual wedding day), I have gone straight from the airport to the hotel, to shooting within a few hours of arrival. So making sure your gear is with you at all times is an absolute must!

2. Along those lines however, if you are traveling Internationally, you might run into some taxation issues if you have too much gear on you. Think about what you want to do/say ahead of time. You can pay the tax (for working in that country) or you can come up with an excuse like ‘one of the cameras is for a friend you are meeting’, or ‘you’re worried about one of your camera breaking so you brought two’. Just be ready to answer questions, whichever route you decide to take.

3. Pack your shooting outfit in your carry-on. Okay guys, I made the mistake of not doing this once – and that was the first and only time that my luggage got lost! I arrived at 10:30pm and had another 2 hour drive to my destination in the middle of nowhere, and there wasn’t anywhere to buy an outfit to wear. It was not my favorite moment. I ended up making friends with someone who literally lent me some of their clothes to wear – so that I didn’t have to show up to the wedding in jeans! That was a close call and I learned my lesson!!

4. Double check your gear – make sure you’ve got extra batteries, memory cards/film, card reader, backup cameras, etc. Also, if you shoot digital, bring an external hard drive to backup your cards before you travel home. You want to travel as light as possible, but some things are absolutely worth bringing. Again, there’s not always access to a camera store, so you need to bring everything you need with you from home.

5. If you are traveling Internationally, don’t forget to pack power convertors or International plugs if you need them for the country you are traveling to.

6. Double, triple check your departure/flight times! Ok, this is really embarrassing but I actually missed a flight once for a destination wedding! Luckily, I had scheduled my arrival time an entire day early before I was to being shooting but this was not ideal and it was super scary! There were no more flights that day, so I had to wait 18hours for the next flight!

7. Research the area you’re traveling to. Is there a cool place that’s not on the beaten tourist track that you can bring your couple to for photos? I find that most couples are into adventure and are excited to take photos in a once-in-a-lifetime location.

8. Have a printed copy with you of all directions, locations, timelines, etc. There was one time that I was unable to access the Internet/email and I was really glad I had printed all that stuff out ahead of time.

9. I know I keep talking about your gear, but it’s not only your livelihood, it could also mean a lawsuit if something happens to someone’s wedding images. Make sure that your gear is safe, even in your hotel room. If there is a safe, use it for your cards/film. If not, make sure that your gear and photos are safe in your hotel room.

10. This depends on your style, but I find it much more rewarding for myself and my couples, when I actually hang out with them and capture real moments throughout our stay. I tell couples that we’ll do multiple mini (10 minute) shoots throughout the days that we are there in a more spontaneous fashion – like when the light is perfect, or I see a perfect shot. I like to work off of what I’m already given, but to make a ‘perfect shot’ usually, some direction is needed (not always – and when this happens, I’m a happy happy girl!). What I mean by this is, if they are hanging out by the pool and I see a cute photo to be had, I might have a friend in the background move, or I might slightly change the angle of their bodies to create a more flattering look, but I usually see the shot with my eye and creative mind first, and then tweak it to make it work for the camera. I mean, who doesn’t want amazing, editorial shots of themselves in an incredible location on their wedding week/weekend! But, I’m also very mindful of people’s time and relaxation and am good at keeping it balanced, so that they don’t constantly feel like they are having to take photos.

10.5 Lastly, Have FUN!!!

Thank you for reading my post and I hope these 10 tips for shooting a destination wedding were helpful! And please leave a comment below with other tips you’ve learned through your experience shooting destination weddings!