We often hear of couples doing destination weddings, but did you know that destination engagement sessions are also a thing? They are a fun way for couples to go somewhere different than where they live and still have their wedding around their friends and family. Destination weddings are amazing and fun, but if you don’t want everyone to have to travel for a destination wedding or have your guests travel for a destination wedding, why not do a destination engagement session? All you need is the two of you and your photographer!
I personally love engagement destination locations. I love traveling and I love diversifying my portfolio with fun locations. It’s easy to get into a rut doing the same locations around Atlanta over and over. I am always so excited when I get to travel for an engagement session whether it be my couples traveling with me to the location or me traveling to a location to meet my couple there. I’ve gone up to North Carolina, down to Florida, and Savannah a couple of times for different engagement sessions over the years. I am all for a destination engagement session and love it when my couples do one!
I have some tips below for brides who might be interested in traveling for a destination engagement session. Check them out!
Teresa and Curtis’ recent engagement session in Savannah
1) Discuss with Your Photographer: You need to discuss with your wedding photographer if they are able/willing to travel. If they are, figure out what they charge for driving, transportation, hotels, etc. and how much it will cost you to pay your photographer to join you at your destination location. I always recommend when possible to hire the same wedding and engagement photographer as it allows you to develop a relationship with your photographer. When they take the pictures on your wedding day, they aren’t taking your pictures for the first time. Sometimes it’s not possible to have this, so make sure if your wedding photographer can’t make it to the destination engagement location that you find someone that has a similar style to your wedding photographer for picture cohesion in your home and on social media.
Meghann and Scott had the best engagement session (back in 2012!) in Asheville and the North Carolina mountains
2) Pick Your Destination: I suggest picking a location that is something unique to where you live. In Atlanta we cannot get cool historic buildings like Savannah or Charleston nor can we get city pictures like you might in New York or San Fransisco for example. Pick a location that is different from something you have where you live.
Do you want to go somewhere that’s within driving distance of your home? Most of the time it’s relatively easy to get to somewhere that’s 5 or less hours of driving before it really starts to make more sense to fly. So look at where you live and decide where some good cities/locations are within driving distance if you want to go that route. In my case, living in Atlanta, we have some great options in that time range: Asheville, Charleston, Nashville, Savannah, the beach (GA/FL coasts), Chattanooga, and many more awesome spots! If you choose to fly, then the sky’s the limit (literally).
Jenna and Tanner’s Jacksonville Beach anniversary session
3) Pick a Date: This is a pretty obvious one, but you need to discuss with your photographer date possibilities and line up a weekend that works for both of y’all. I would give your photographer a couple of options to choose from that work for you since your photographer shoots weddings on the weekends and might be booked. Also, check with the city you’re traveling to and make sure they don’t have any huge festival or event going on that would cause traffic or tons of people in all of your pictures. For example, I wouldn’t want to travel to Savannah for engagement pictures on St. Patricks Day weekend as it’s one of the busiest St. Patty’s Day celebrations in the United States; or Charleston has a sailing race week in April that I would want to avoid. Just check around and make sure you’re not walking into the city’s busiest weekend of the year.
4) Book Your Hotel: Make sure you price shop this as it can be something you save money on. If you’re going to be driving more than 5 hours roundtrip in one day, you need to book a hotel for your photographer at least. Your photographer might want to stay if it’s even less than that, but 5 hours in one day is my max I will travel without a hotel stay for an engagement session. I recommend booking a hotel for yourself as well. Make a fun weekend out of it! There are so many hotels out there at cheap prices. If you’re going to a popular destination that has higher rates, look for a hotel maybe 20-30 minutes away as they are cheaper. AirBnB’s are great options as well, especially if they have multiple rooms to rent as your photographer could possibly bunk up at the house with you. I know I wouldn’t have a problem with staying at an AirBnB with my clients. Your photographer might have a different preference, so ask what they would like. As a photographer, if I have friends/family in the destination city, I stay with them vs the couple. It helps my couple save money and I get to see my friends/family!
Tawny and Jacob celebrated their first anniversary with a session in Chattanooga with me one afternoon!
5) Choose Outfits: I provide my couples with a detailed engagement guide when they book me which gives them tips and tricks on what to wear and not to wear. I encourage them to read through this guide in detail as it helps them look awesome for their engagement session. I usually have my couples do 1-2 outfits for their engagement sessions; but at a destination location, we might do up to 3 outfits. I figure we’re traveling far for pictures, so let’s take advantage of it if the client wants. Plus, it gives me more options in my portfolio!
6) Have Your Session: Have fun and enjoy yourselves!
I hope you find this post helpful and one that encourages you to travel for your engagement session possibly! Enjoy planning your session!