We have heard it time and time again, amazing photographers break into the wedding industry only to get stuck photographing the same area over and over. WAH WAH WAAAHHH. If you’re a wedding photographer and your passion is to book your first destination wedding, you have come to the right place! We have photographed weddings and elopements across the globe – Montana, California, Utah, Mexico, Iceland, Netherlands, France and Spain just to name a few! Here’s our outline on how exactly to do this.
1. Marketing to book your first destination wedding
It all starts with marketing. Have you ever heard of the phrase, fake it ‘till you make it? It is SO TRUE! Show the weddings you want to book on your Instagram and website. Take part or even lead styled shoots to create this content! Psst, don’t know where to begin on curating styled shoots. We got you, Plan a Styled Shoot.
In addition to styled shoots, add your personal travel photos. Even if you haven’t photographed a wedding there you have BEEN there and that has value!
Write a blog about destination weddings, show potential couples that you are a RESOURCE for them. All this content needs to be SEEN to work though!
If you haven’t downloaded our nifty SEO WORKBOOK, you need to stop, drop, and download. This is a blog template that will help you breeze through how to get on the first page of Google. We use this form on the daily. We are known for our Montana wedding photography, but we have also branded ourselves as worldwide elopement and wedding photographers. Using this template, we get booked in locations we have never even been! So, go download.
Fun fact – I made this Italy elopement mood board before Italy was even on the table. I knew I wanted to go there and that it would be a GREAT adventure for a couple. After the mood board, enter Sarah & Angelo on their vespas summer 2023. IT WORKS! Don’t wait for the couple, BRING them to you!
2. Announcing that you are a destination wedding photographer
It is essential to get recognition with photographing destination weddings. Start at locations close to you and expand outward. In order to build your reputation, start with people who you know, or you are only a few degrees of separation away from. These couples will already have a layer of trust with you and from there you can start building up your reviews. Once you get the ball rolling, let everyone know that you are the one they should go to!
Offer a discount to the first few inquiries in order to book your first destination wedding. This can be in an email to prospective couples that reach out to you.
How to write an intro e-mail to book your first destination wedding
- Start with an introductory paragraph about who you are and your power pitch.
- Link to the blog post you’ve written from step one.
- Share the discount details and build out your elopement inquiry email funnel.
When offering a discount, be sure to set your price first and then let them know how much they are receiving as a discount. We have done this as both a set amount off and a percentage off before. Use what feels best to you. DON’T only specify the discounted amount, let them know the true value of your services and what they are getting! Excite your couples!
3. The client’s experience when you book your first destination wedding
You and your clients will get tight through this experience, we’re talking Selena Gomez and T-Swift close. Help them envision what a destination wedding looks like. Getting to really know your clients will help you tailor their day to them. Do they care about star shots? Grand hikes? Brunch on the beach? Go to them with ideas to jump start them thinking about their dream destination wedding.
In addition to photographing when you book your first destination wedding, you also have the important job of being their guide. Think of yourself as the Geanie to their Aladdin. You are helping couples on their journey to their perfect wedding day with ideas and guides and as their sounding board. Make sure they feel taken care of and build trust!
Here are five easy ways to provide a great client experience:
- Make your client feel taken care of. Be responsive and sincere.
- Location scouting – google earth, alltrails, google maps, location research. Let them know they have options and if they bring up an area you aren’t familiar with- FIND OUT!
- Helpful guides delivered to their inbox. Tips on how to plan a destination wedding, best destination wedding locations, and once you get started share wedding destinations you have photographed!
- Again, you’re the expert! Let them know you are there to be their resource and you can personalize anything.
- Fun activities – our motto is we help them plan their wedding like their dream vacation! If the whole family is coming out, think about a welcome bonfire. If there are lots of kids what kind of games can be rented to entertain them. Destination weddings require more planning.
4. How to photograph for destination weddings
You need to be selective about images and choose the ones that represent destination weddings. The intimate shots, the majestic shots, the jaw-on-the-floor look at this couple and that background shot! When potential clients are scouting you out, the photos are what they go to first. They want to know if they can see themselves in the photos. Less is also more; many clients will not be digging through thirty photos of your work. Make sure you put the best 7-10 in their face, and then they can deep dive your insta if they like what they are seeing.
- Landscape images – with and without humans. An allure to a destination wedding is, you guessed it, THE DESTINATION! Practice taking photos of the areas and get comfortable with the outside elements.
- Tell the story of the place AND the people.
- FEELING/emotion in imagery – get posing strategies down in advance.
Case Study: Vi and Bryan
Vi and Bryan’s Iceland Elopement at Reynisfjara was not a traditional wedding, and we were in on that plan for the start. Vi and Bryan originally were interested in Glacier National Park. There are so many wedding ceremony locations in glacier national park and that it’s one of our faves to adventure to! Buttttt, Vi and Bryan decided to up their wedding up a notch. They took us up on our idea to take them to Iceland! We solemnly swear by location matchmaking being the first really important mission.
We use this as our case study because we HAD NEVER BEEN TO ICELAND! NOPE! It would have been easier, even more comfortable, to have shown Vi and Bryan a great time in the great Glacier National Park (where they initially inquired). But after getting to know them, hearing their story, it just felt right to go balls to the salt cave walls and make magic happen in Iceland together. A simple “heeeey I think I know the perfect spot for you” line in your inquiry email and a link to a helpful guide for them did the trick.
How to Plan for Your First Destination Wedding
So, we got down and dirty in the details. We provided probably 50 pages of information to start, we researched where to stay, what to see, How to Elope in Iceland! We found the BEST hair and makeup team, Pink Iceland, whose values as a loud and proud partner of the LGBTQ+ community resonated with us. If you are ready to plan your first destination wedding, get ready to put in the work! You are the guide, you are the resource, and you are a photography wizard, Harry!
Vi and Bryan’s destination wedding was an epic success. We explored the salt columns, the black sand, and the legendary rocks. Vi and Bryan found the perfect secluded cave to exchange vows. Everyone we passed waited outside the cave and gave Vi and Bryan their privacy. The waves crashed behind them and the wind blew around them. Vi shared that she felt like everything else around just faded away and they could be together. When they finished their exchange and exited the cave, a group of tourists outside cheered for their moment. We explored waterfalls, including the legendary Skogafoss. Their perfect day came to a close out on the lupin field. With the mountains in the background, Vi and Bryan enjoyed their cheesecake and ended their wedding day with the most romantic moment. THIS ALL HAPPENED WITHOUT US EVER STEPPING FOOT IN ICELAND PRIOR!
Styled shoots work in many ways!
Back to the point. We didn’t start booking destination weddings randomly. We put in the work and you will need to, to book your first destination wedding. One of the ways we got started in the destination arena was with a styled shoot in Moab! Our couple for this shoot was Maggie and Arlyn! Getting to know them and practicing with a styled shoot created content and that was HUGE in booking them and other prospective couples!
Honeybee Wedding Programs for YOU
Looking for more TLC on how to book your first destination wedding? Join Adventure with Us!
Adventure with Us
Adventure with Us is our 1:1 mentorship program, where you have the unique opportunity to step into the shoes of a six figure business. We design a personalized experience tailored specifically to your needs. We guide you to boost your portfolio and your business.
How to know if adventure with us is right for you
- You feel stuck with mediocre weddings
- Your photos are killer, but the business side is killing you
- The workload and long hours make you want to rip your hair out
- Your couples care more about your price than your art
You can do all this- go on more adventures, and be part of more love stories that’ll last a lifetime. Call us, and we will show you the ropes like George of the Jungle, just watch out for that tree! Mention this blog post for 25%!
What Adventure with Us includes:
- Customized content map
- REAL wedding/elopement with us
- Pricing pool party
- Branding Boost
- Image critique
- Website critique
If you aren’t ready for a one on one, maybe a group date is more your thing. Our BOSS UP group coaching is a structured four week program. It is a coaching program to build habits and a kick ass business to get you on top. Elevate your business and your SOUL!
Not only will you build good business habits, you will also foster relationships that are based on trust and a shared experience. I have been part of group coaching sessions and the knowledge and legit FRIENDSHIPS that have come out of it still bring the best out of me and my work today. This beautiful group of human beings (and meee!) are here to help you. To support you and hear your wins. To hear your fuckin ROARS! Get yourself on my calendar for a coaching inquiry call to get started.