8 Tips to Book Your First Destination Wedding

Jan 5, 2024

Today’s article is all about the exciting world of destination weddings!

Combining photography with travel is a dream come true for many photographers, including our instructor Matt Tyler.

It comes with a whole new set of challenges, opportunities and, more often than not, decent weather.

Matt often gets asked how to make the leap from UK-based to overseas weddings. It’s not right for everyone, but we thought we’d share with you how he did it and our top tips if it’s something you’re considering.

Matt's first destination wedding

In his second year as a full time photographer, Matt exhibited at The Modern Bride Wedding Show at Excel, in London, to promote himself.

He was approached by a wedding planner who had seen his work and loved the fact that his photographic style was far more natural and unposed than other wedding photographers. She asked if he did destination weddings.

Matt had never done a destination wedding at this point, but having spent the previous year travelling full time with his cameras, he felt confident he could deliver and jumped at the opportunity.

A short while after the wedding show the planner got in touch and said she had a couple who loved his work and wanted to meet. Matt headed into London to meet the couple for lunch and chat through everything. Next thing you know he’s got a signed contract and a wedding in France!

Matt charged his normal rate, plus an additional £500 for travel expenses.

As soon as he had shot the wedding, he blogged about it on his website - and new enquiries started to come through. He was also contacted over Facebook by an old teacher who had been following his career, loved his work and just so happened to be getting married in the USA.

Before Matt knew it, he had a handful of destination weddings under his belt and he could now confidently market himself as a destination wedding photographer.

Our tips for booking your first destination wedding

Destination wedding photography has become increasingly popular over the years, and so you may have to work hard to get those first few opportunities.

But first, make sure you’re ready. Destinations are not a place to learn, and you will want your photography skills to be second nature so that you are able to tackle the new challenges you will face.

Once you’re ready, we hope these eight tips help you secure your first job:

  1. Shoot a range of weddings in the UK - in different locations and in different seasons - to improve and evidence your range as a photographer.

  2. Find opportunities in the UK to shoot photos that could be destination photos. For example, suggest doing an engagement shoot on a beach or by a lake during golden hour.

  3. Reach out to previous clients and let them know you are looking to shoot destination weddings if they know anyone getting married abroad. It can be easier to pitch through people who already love your work - so get them recommending you!

  4. Reach out to any friends and family who are planning to get married abroad.

  5. If you can afford it, take a trip or two with your camera and equipment. Learn what it's like to travel with your equipment and shoot in different climates.

  6. Blog about any shoots you do overseas, even if it’s just a trip you booked by yourself. That way, you can show what you’re up to without explicitly marketing yourself as a destination wedding photographer too early.

  7. Consider dropping your rate slightly, or not charging for travel costs, on your first booking. Securing that crucial first job may be worth taking a short term financial hit.

  8. Consider booking a styled destination photo shoot. Whilst we prefer authenticity, this is an option photographers can look at if all else fails. You can always choose to blog about the shoot rather than include it in your portfolio, if you want to be clear it was a staged shoot but highlight the real experience you gained.

In short, there are a lot of additional things to consider with destination wedding photography!

Our Visual Storytelling Masterclass will also teach you to use advanced compositional techniques as second nature, so that you are better equipped to take on new photographic challenges and capture incredible stories anywhere.

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