All the Details You Need to Know to Find Your Perfect Match
Congratulations — you are engaged and are now planning your dream destination wedding! It’s an exciting time and I’m glad you ended up here, on my little corner of the internet.
Finding a photographer is one of the biggest and most important steps of your wedding planning journey.
It sounds cliché but, truly, besides your marriage, your pictures really are the only thing you take with you from your wedding day. And, past that, you spend more time with your photographer than anyone else that day of your wedding. You want to make sure your photographer is someone you enjoy being around.
I created this guide in hope that it would help you navigate the world of wedding photography with ease and confidence.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Finding a Photographer for Your Destination Wedding
Let’s look at the steps you should take in finding a photographer for your destination wedding.
1 – Decide on Your Location and Planner
Before you can even think about searching for your perfect wedding photographer, you need to decide where you want to get married. You don’t need to know an exact venue (although this can be helpful) but you do need to have an idea of where you want to have your wedding. (Think French Riviera, Amalfi Coast — just general areas).
The other aspect of planning that usually comes before finding your photographer is deciding on your planner. Having a planner is highly recommended when hosting a destination wedding as your planner can help you with all of the little details that you might now even know to consider when planning from afar.
Your planner can also help you find, amongst other vendors, a photographer for your destination wedding (I will touch on this later).
2 – Consider Your Budget
The next step in finding a photographer for your destination wedding is to consider your budget.
Maybe you are not on a budget and you can just skip this part. Great. But if you do have a budget to work within, then now is the time to sit down and look at what you can spend on a photographer.
I’ll be honest — you’ll find photographers at almost every budget point. You’ll find ones that start at $200 and ones that start at $20,000.
Something I have discovered is that you will almost always end up spending more on photography than you intended. Good photography is an investment — and you should approach your decisions as such.
The other aspect of the budget that you will want to consider is where you are getting married. There is a vast difference between costs in some areas. Getting an idea of your budget before you dive into planning will be helpful.
3 – Figure Out What Style You Like
After you have your location and budget figured out, the next step is figuring out what style you like.
For as many budgets as there are, there are that many styles.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you try and pinpoint what sort of style you want for your wedding photography.
Do you like more of a candid (journalistic/editorial) look or a more formal, posed look?
Do you like natural editing? Light and airy? Or maybe you are partial to the brown/golden editing that is trending?
Are you more concerned with being trendy or having images that will look “in style” in 20 years?
Do you like more black and white images or more in color?
Do you want a photographer that captures the moments naturally or one that takes over and directs the moments?
Do you want someone who photographs in digital or film?
4 – Find Photographers
Here is where the work really begins. You need to start looking for photographers that service the area that you are getting married in and who match your stylistic preferences.
There are several places you can find potential photographers but here are my favorites:
Planner recommendations are great. You have an assurance that they know the photographer and can vouch for their work. Always ask your planner for a vendor list when you enlist their services.
Saying Google searches seems pretty obvious but let me give you some advice on how to search for the exact photographer you want.
Try searching in these ways:
Search the venue + wedding photographer (example: Villa Ephrussi wedding photographer).
Search the area + wedding photographer (example: French Riviera wedding photographer).
Search the area + type of wedding photographer (example: French Riviera film wedding photographer).
General searches such as “photographer” or “destination photographer” rarely do much good as they are too broad and will give you results all over the place. Do specific searches and you will have much better luck.
Ask Other Photographers
Don’t be afraid to ask other photographers for their recommendations if they are already booked or out of your budget. Most photographers will have a community of other professionals that they would love to recommend.
5 – Start Narrowing It Down
Once you start finding photographers that you like, start reaching out to get pricing and availability. Make sure you don’t contact too many. Start with no more than 7-10 to make sure you are really loving the ones you do contact.
Get pricing and availability and, then, start scheduling calls with those that are in your budget.
A call is a great way to make sure you like the photographer and can see yourself working well with them.
And don’t forget to look at reviews and testimonials from previous clients at this point too. Make sure there are not consistently bad reviews and frequent criticisms.
6 – Sign a Contract and Pop Some Champagne
Once you find that photographer that you MUST hire, it’s time to sign the contract, pay the retainer (always necessary to hold the date), and pop some champagne to celebrate! One of the most difficult decisions of wedding planning has been finished!
What Should You Look For in a Photographer For Your Destination Wedding
One of the biggest things to consider when booking a photographer is not just their style (although that is important). Equally important is making sure you are working with a professional who takes their job — and your wedding — seriously.
Never book a photographer without a contract or without paying a retainer.
Also, make sure you pay attention to your photographer’s communication skills. Are they responsive and do they care about your questions and concerns?
When Should You Book Your Wedding Photographer
The final point I’d like to talk about is when you should book your photographer.
There is no absolute rule for this but my suggestion is to book as early as possible. Wedding photographers tend to book out 6-9 months in advance so early planning is key.
Best Advice for Finding a Photographer For Your Destination Wedding
In conclusion, here are my top pieces of advice for hiring a wedding photographer:
1 – Hire a planner to help you.
2 – Try to make at least one trip.
3 – Schedule an engagement session with your photographer while you are out there on the trip to get to know your photographer better (and so they can know you).
Looking for more planning advice? Follow along on my blog!