How To Be A Destination Wedding Photographer In 2013

Think people are skimping on their wedding plans just because the economy has been down the past few years? Think again.

How To Be A Destination Wedding Photographer In 2013Statistics show wedding budgets are still at an all time high, with the average wedding costing around $27,000.

You might be saying “not in my backyard”. And that very well may be true. Because statistics also show that almost one in four couples today don’t get married in their own backyard … they plan a destination wedding.

So if you are trying to be a wedding photographer right there in your home town, and you aren’t having much luck, maybe you need to change the way you approach your clients … and your business.

Destination weddings are on the rise because of a variety of things:

  • People are busy, planning a destination wedding is a way to escape more than the daily grind.
  • Families come from all over the world, so it may as well be a fun vacation for everyone.
  • It’s a great way to keep the guest list in check, and invite only the people closest to you.
  • It’s a way to spend money on what’s truly important – spending time with your loved ones instead of feeding 200+ people.


Every bride will come up with her own reasons for planning something far from home. Yet in every case its probably to have a more perfect event with those closest to her.

And that’s where a destination wedding photographer can do well.

A bride and groom don’t plan a destination for the sole reason of keeping the budget down; instead they plan it to spend money on the people that matter most to them. Which means those closest to them will all be in one location – one GREAT location – looking their best and being their happiest. Which means it’s a perfect opportunity for the best portraits possible. Portraits they want and are willing to buy.

Good news for wedding photographers. But how do you go about building your business around destination wedding photography?

Think like a destination wedding photographer.

Yes, it is slightly different than thinking like a wedding photographer.

A wedding photographer thinks about the photographs, the weddings, the packages, and the final products. They write about weddings on their sites and post images from the latest weddings. They create packages for people in their local area.

Then as an after thought, they throw up a one line phrase at the bottom of the service page:

Available for destination weddings.

And they sit back and wait for it to happen.

Very rarely will it happen if this is your strategy.

Instead, a destination wedding photographer thinks about weddings AND where she is willing to photograph.

The concept of being a destination wedding photographer fills people with awe – “oh, what a great life, traveling around the world photographing the best parties in the world”. And the daydreams begin.

But that isn’t the reality of it all. Instead, being a great destination wedding photographer means you are also great at marketing. Its very difficult marketing to everyone around the world. Its hard to gather enough attention to make it work. Which is why it rarely does.

Instead, to be a successful destination wedding photographer, they know the only way to succeed is to focus in on where you want to go.

Maybe you live in the Midwest and are tired of the long winters. You yearn for the opportunity to spend several months of the year in a tropical location. By choosing one location and putting your focus there, you can grow your wedding business by  networking and marketing with the wedding venues popular within your chosen area.

Statistics show that the top US wedding location for destination weddings include:

  • Florida – 18%
  • California – 13%
  • Nevada – 9%
  • North Carolina – 5%
  • South Carolina 4%

Statistics show that the top International locations for destination weddings include:

  • Caribbean – 39%
  • Mexico – 24%
  • Hawaii – 20%
  • Central/South America – 7%
  • Europe – 6%

Out of all those locations, where would you like to be?

Maybe you’ve always desired to go back to your roots. You would love to have a second home in the Tuscany hillside of Italy. Why not promote yourself back here in the states as the premier American wedding photographer for people wanting a destination wedding in Italy? They could rely on you for much more than great photography (although that’s what they’ll get). They can ask questions about marriage licenses, get tips on where to stay, ideas for intimate venues that they would never hear of – and have the advantage of working with someone who understands the language and lives and works out of the US too.

I use this as an example, but it can work in any way. If you live in Spain, why not become the premier Spanish destination wedding photographer who knows and understands the best locations in southern United States?

There is something comfortable about “using someone from home”. You have a distinct advantage because you can relate to your customers on a different level.

And it gives you a marketing advantage over all other photographers who are either residents of the location you are traveling to, or simply state “available for destinations” on their websites.

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