Destination weddings can be a lot of work for everyone involved if the planning isn’t up to snuff. When someone has taken the pains to bring me and my gear clear across the country to cover their wedding, I make sure that we do a lot of talking about the timing. It’s a good idea to bring your photographers in a couple of days ahead for a few reasons. The most obvious one being that it’s a way to get past the aggravations of weather and delayed flights. It is a also good way to ensure that your photographers are rested and ready to give you the best coverage possible, and, if any gear gets messed up in transit, your photographer has a chance to get it replaced in time for your wedding. All of that seems like a no brainer to me.
What I offer my clients in a destination situation is a chance to spend a couple of hours outside of the wedding day… most often it’s a rehearsal dinner sort of coverage. It helps all of us to get comfortable before the big day. Jen and Chris had a tea for their families at the hotel the day before the wedding. I took some time with the tea service but when they were done, they asked if I would go with them to get the rings cleaned. You bet! Old Town Alexandria has a free trolly that runs up and down King Street… all we had to do was hop on and go a couple of stops to the jewelry designer. Basically, we got to treat it as an engagement session… it gave us lots of opportunities to do sweet pictures of just the two of them in various places before we took our frozen noses back to the hotel.
Once upon a time, there was a rehearsal dinner at a beautiful California vineyard in Sutter Creek, right in the foothills of the Sierras. Kenrick and Lindy had everyone fly in for this wonderful weekend. They had hired me completely over the phone… we had some long conversations and many e mails and found that we were a good fit. It was nice to get to know them a little better at the rehearsal and to be made welcome into their good crowd. The wedding went off the next day to great success… astounding food, fancy dancing and, for the end of the night, a local bowling alley complete with disco lights.
Fast forward to this coming January and you will find me in Old Town Alexandria happily covering his brother’s wedding. (Kenrick is the man in the cool hat and Chris is the man receiving a really nice bottle of single malt.) For Jennifer and Chris, all of our planning has been over the phone and in e mails but I’m pretty sure I am going to know some of the crowd a little better at the upcoming rehearsal dinner. I can’t wait!
A bicycle built for two requires a very special teamwork… these two people have that teamwork in spades! Lindy and Kenrick have an anniversary coming up soon and I always think of this image from their rehearsal dinner. This was a true destination wedding with most everyone flying out from the east coast and me flying down from Portland… Sacramento was the airport and then there was a fabulous drive east to the foothills of the Sierras. The destination was the town of Sutter Creek. The rehearsal dinner and the wedding were held at Avio Vineyards just on the edge of town.
Avio is a delightful blend of rustic and classy with peacocks roaming the grounds and views out over the soft hills. Dinner was set with this view in mind and everyone was having a fine time. Before dessert was served, Lindy’s dad took Kenrick for a walk ostensibly to give him some advice… meanwhile, Lindy was pulling this red tandem bike out of the shed, making sure the bow was secure. You can probably imagine the surprise on his face when he came back! They took the bike up to the parking area immediately and took a spin in the fading light… perfect teamwork!
Destination weddings also require teamwork. As a photographer available for travel, I have a few pieces of advice about the process. Plan on bringing in your photographic team a day early at least… it offers some very real insurance that they will be there on time and rested for your wedding day. It will also give them a chance to deal with possible lost or damaged equipment… these days, rental gear can usually be overnighted if necessary. As a perk for bringing me in early, I always offer a couple of hours at the rehearsal to get to know the immediate crowd and to check out the venue as much as possible.
Your professional photographers will no doubt talk to you about all of these things in the planning sessions… if they don’t, you’d better do the asking or risk having things go sideways. ;0)
Destination weddings always get a little extra photography… seems like the least I can do for the extra cost. Since I prefer to arrive a day ahead, I like to spend a couple of hours at the rehearsal dinner getting used to the family and close friends. It also gives me a chance to scout a venue that is new to me and, of course it is a kind of insurance against travel problems… a little buffer just in case.
What’s really cool is to be there when the surprises happen. Lindy had a shiny red tandem bike delivered to Avio Vineyards to give to Kenrick… he was one big smile as they went for a ride in the soft light of the Sierra foothills.
It never hurts to ask about having a trusted professional photographer travel for you… it beats taking a chance.