March 3, 2011

Pancake Session: Destination Weddings

Welcome back for another heaping helping of good old fashioned, wholesome pancakes!!

Today, since Justin & I are busy at work tying up some loose ends before flying out tomorrow for our next wedding in Miami, we thought this would be the perfect time to answer some of the questions we’ve been getting a lot about shooting destination weddings. This email from Krystal at Krystal Blu Photography summed up the main questions we want to answer today perfectly!

Hey guys!

Your work is beautiful and fun as I’m sure you’ve heard close to a million times! :) I’m just starting out in this crazy business and was wondering how did you make destination weddings your main work. What’s your advice to make destination weddings my main work. And how do you get clients to book without meeting them since they live so far away?

Thanks for any advice!!

So the first thing I would say is that even though Justin & I do consider ourselves destination photographers and destination weddings do make up a good chunk of our work, it’s definitely not our main work. We like to say that our weddings are broken out by 40/40/20: Forty percent of our weddings take place right here in our own argyle clad state of Connecticut :), another forty percent are somewhere in the Northeast running the whole gauntlet between Maine and DC, and a final twenty percent involve us actually getting on a plane to go somewhere like the one we leave for tomorrow. And for us, that breakdown is pretty ideal. So much so that we intentionally try to keep it that way from year to year. We really love traveling for weddings, but all that travel does take a toll and it takes us away from home which we happen to love. So we try to save between 5-8 spots each year for the best destination inquiries that we get. And then with the rest of our dates, we’re pretty happy if they break down about half and half between CT and the other New England states (which do still involve quite a bit of travel). That division gives us the best balance (for us and the goals we have for our business) between shooting in new & exciting places and being able to have a home base. So I guess my first point is, don’t feel like you have to spend every weekend hopping on a plane somewhere or have them be your “main” gig in order to break into destination weddings.

The second part of the question is really about how you get out of town clients to find you in the first place. And I think mostly the answer is just rocking out the experience you create for your local brides first. Because here’s the thing: those brides will have bridesmaids and guests that are coming from out of town who are getting married too. And the great thing about word of mouth is that it doesn’t just stay within state boundary lines. So in the beginning, we were getting all of our out of town work from friends of our CT brides. People who came to the wedding and saw the work and asked if we traveled (yep, yep!) and then hired us too. After that, we started getting brides who were local, but were planning destination weddings. So they booked us here and brought us in to wherever the wedding was going to be. One of the first BIG destination weddings we ever got was our bride Irena, who lives in Massachusetts but was planning a Miami wedding. And so she booked us and brought us in. Ironically enough, she actually booked us over the phone while we were out in Las Vegas, but you get the point!

From there, we just started trying to build up word of mouth about us on the ground in those locations. Once we started getting those jobs, we made sure that we were taking really good care of those planners, florists, caterers etc so that we had people in that market saying our name to their brides too. And it just took off from there. In addition to all that, we’ve also been able to reach a much wider audience of brides nationally just with posting on facebook, being featured on wedding blogs like Style Me Pretty, and to be honest because of this blog if you can believe it. Which brings me to my final point.

Blogging and putting your personality and story out there on the web for people to see allows them to feel like they already know you. To connect with you. To trust that you are the one that they want with them on the wedding day even if they’ve never actually met you before. And since we got really serious about sharing ourselves, our lives and our story on the Internet, the number of people who are willing to book us over the phone and sight unseen has gone through the roof. One of my favorite examples recently is a couple who just booked us for their Maine wedding, over the phone from Argentina. And then the next day they were leaving to go climb Machu Picchu.

Talk about destination!

I hope this helped! Even if just a little bit. Sometimes it does just take time….but also making the most of the opportunities once you do get them. Tune in next week when we’ll be digging into more about how we travel & actually prepare for a destination job!

In the mean time, thanks for being here and sharing your lives & stories with us. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment box!

  1. Lydia

    Awesome advice! Thanks J&M!

  2. Jessica Fike

    Thank you soooo much for this session! I cannot wait to shoot my first destination wedding and your suggestions really help and inspire. The pancake sessions make me really hungry for pancakes…everytime…by the way. :)

  3. Isaac Stott

    Karen and I had our first destination wedding in maui last summer and LOVED it! I really like your comment on how you balance local and destination. Thanks again! Oh, I would also like to thank you for what you shared about regrets at your platform class, I wasn’t there but my wife Karen was and it has been life changing. Thank you

  4. Alison

    Love the pancake sessions, as usual and thrilled to hear you will be shooting a wedding here in Maine. Cannot wait to see it through your eyes!

  5. Columbus GA Photographer

    Very valuable information! Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Brooke

    Thank you for the information, it makes a lot of sense. :)

  7. Rupa

    Thanks for all of the good information! My biggest struggle (and this might be a totally separate area) is how to price them when it comes to traveling, whether it be national or international. So many details to take care of and to add to a contract as well. Is there a resource that you would recommend to find out how to handle that side of it or would you guys be willing to talk about it at some point!? : )

  8. Lesley

    Perfect timing! We’re starting up our business here in the Netherlands but want to be able to shoot in bordering countries as well! So much work to do! :)

  9. Destination Wedding Photographer

    You made a great point. For a healthy photography business to flourish you need not only satisfy the wedding couple, but also the wedding vendors. Great article! A cheers from Toronto

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