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How to Book Destination Weddings

How to Book Destination Weddings

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Have you always had an interest in booking destination weddings? Or maybe you’ve booked them, but want to book more? Then this episode is for you! I’m guiding you through everything you need to know about the question of how to book destination weddings. 

Now, if you’re sitting here wondering why you should learn this from me, then I just want to share with you that I have booked destination weddings in ways that other educators do not teach about, and I wouldn’t have known that had it not happened to me, but since I did, I’m here to share all of my tips and tricks around book destination weddings, even if you’ve never been to the location before. 

I don’t know about you, but what I have heard time and time again is that you need to travel to a location first in order to be able to book that location, and while there are so many benefits to doing that, it’s not a necessity. 

I’m here to share other ways for you to book more destination weddings and how to even book your first destination wedding, and how to make the most of your travel whenever you are traveling either for personal pleasure or for business. 

Why I Won’t Discourage You From Booking Destination Weddings

Before we dive into talking about how to book destination weddings, I want to bring up something that is on my heart with this topic, and that is talking about destination weddings in some kind of negative way. As an educator, I’ll definitely touch on how to know if destination weddings are right for you, but at the beginning of my business whenever I started trying to figure out how to be a destination wedding or elopement photographer, it seemed like all of the education around it was more so encouraging you NOT to do it. 

I heard that it’s more work, you have to serve your clients even more, you have to show up earlier, a lot of the time what you get paid is not enough for the travel, you could have booked more weddings in your home location. I want you to know that this episode is not going to be about that. I want to encourage you to be a destination wedding or elopement photographer if traveling is something you enjoy or if you would love to see more of the world and get paid for it. 

I know for me that whenever I started wedding photography, I knew I wanted to be a destination wedding photographer. I love travel in my personal life and I thought it would be so cool to travel around the world and get paid to go to these different locations where my couples feel the most at home, and while all that was true, I still do destination weddings, but I realized the more I did them, the more I actually desire to be home or to go to that location with my husband, and it would be for personal pleasure rather than the goal of scouting out the locations or knowing the area really well. 

It’s so different to travel for personal reasons versus business reasons, and I have also found that I was just really sad going to these beautiful places without my husband and experiencing that away from him, so that’s kind of where I’m at now. However, I still do enjoy destination weddings and I still shoot them, but I have a max of 5 that I will take per year so I can really enjoy it every single time that I am going to shoot a couple in a different place. 

So, I wanted to give that little disclaimer before starting to let you know that I am not going to be discouraging you from trying it out because what you may really enjoy is going to be so different from what another educator or even myself may enjoy. 

Now, onto the 5 tips on how to become a destination wedding photographer! 

Book Couples and Engagement Sessions 

This may sound a little funny, but the reason for this is because I cannot tell you how many times it’s happened in both Nashville and Denver, I’ve had couples who will book me for their engagement session because they want to take photos in that city, and then they end up loving their experience so much with me that they end up hiring me for their wedding day as well, but they don’t live in Nashville or Denver, so I’m traveling to wherever their destination wedding is going to be. 

This is actually how I booked my very first destination wedding. I had a couple who was visiting from Ohio and Miami, and they were coming to Nashville because they enjoy vacationing in the Smoky Mountains. They knew they were going to be visiting, so they reached out to me, we shot their engagement session, and after their session with me, they reached out because they wanted to have me photograph their wedding. Their wedding was in Miami, and I had never been there before, but because of the experience I gave and how much they trusted me, it was a no brainer for them. 

So, I encourage you that if you are niched down into weddings and elopements, don’t sleep on offering couples and engagement sessions, especially if you live in an area where people enjoy visiting and could find you and hire you locally to then decide they want to have you after for their wedding day. 

And this hasn’t just happened once for me. It’s happened many times. I had a couple book me for their wedding in New York that’s actually happening this year! I also just photographed a couple’s engagement session who originally thought they only wanted me for their engagement session, then afterward, they asked me if I could shoot their wedding in Florida. And while I’m not available for their wedding weekend, it’s just proof that this tip of booking couples and engagement sessions can really work. 

Another thing I want to add is to not sleep on proposal sessions either. I had one couple who stuck with me from their proposal session, to their engagement session, to their wedding, which was in Texas. So again, it’s just more proof for you that offering engagement sessions can be so powerful to connect with a couple prior to them booking you for their wedding day. 

I do want to pivot and tell you that this tip is not going to work if the couple doesn’t love their photos they receive from you, if they didn’t get them on time, or if you didn’t give them a great luxury client experience that really helped them along the way. 

So, if that’s not you today, and if you’re struggling with up-leveling your client experience, then I want to invite you to check out my mentorship program Book It, where I teach you how to attract, book, and serve your dream couples. 

Your client experience is truly so pivotal in order to have these repeat clients, and I want to share a quick stat wit you as well. It is 6 to 7 times more likely you will book a repeat client than you will a brand new client because there’s already that trust there. So, just keep that in mind with offering proposal, couple, and engagement sessions. 

Niche Down Your Locations 

The next tip I have for you is to niche down into a few locations, actually visit those locations, and create intentional content around that. This is more of an advanced approach to booking destination weddings, and it’s actually what I’m going to be teaching in-depth inside of my new program Scale It, which is coming out at the end of this year and I am SO excited to share more about it in the upcoming months with you. 

But for now, I still want to teach you this topic of niching down into a few locations and why you should consider doing so. The reason for this is to actually make destination weddings and elopements easier for you because you will be specialized in these areas. 

I’m specialized in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and California. These are the 4 states I would love to continue going to over and over again because I’ve been there multiple times, I have all the location recommendations, I understand the environment and weather, as well as backup spots. 

What does this mean for you? It means your work becomes easier because you are an expert in those locations, and when you’re niching down in these locations, it probably means you need to visit them. You need to know more about the airport, how to get around, the traffic, tide schedules, or when the sun is going to get behind the mountain. So, in visiting those locations, I would make sure you make the most of it. Get out there and explore, see things with your own eyes, and take notes. 

My husband and I went on a trip with a couple of friends to southern Oregon and northern California, and we went to the Redwoods. We were on this short, cute little trail and I thought it would be a perfect spot for an elopement. I didn’t have my fancy camera, so I simply just took notes on my phone. This way I could remember that there was a bathroom at the trailhead, or what the trail was like, or the spot I found that would be a gorgeous spot for a ceremony. 

And if you don’t have your camera, go ahead and take some good photos or videos with your phone. You could post them to your story or to Tik Tok and ask if anyone would ever want to elope in this area. There is so much intentional content you can create around visiting a location without having to photograph a couple. 

I will say, there is so much benefit to actually traveling somewhere for a content shoot or even if you can find a couple who is happy to let you photograph them in exchange for photos. It’s so powerful to build your portfolio from these locations, but it’s not necessary. 

Write Blogs and Cornerstone Content 

After you have visited the spots and after you have some content, you have information to share and a very helpful blog for anyone who would be considering getting married there. I would definitely recommend taking those notes you wrote whenever you visited the location and even have some ideas for your elopement couple on how to make their elopement destination their honeymoon as well. 

Writing blogs and cornerstone content around these locations that you are niched down into, and even the shoots that you have photographed there will be very powerful for your marketing to get you seen on Google and for simply booking more destination weddings in those locations because writing these blogs will start growing your SEO toward the keywords that you’re using for these locations. 

One of the things I feel trips us up is feeling like we have to share our photography of couples on blogs or cornerstone content. Even if you share a couple of iPhone photos or videos of the location, you can still rank on page 1 on Google by using those images. I want to encourage you that done is better than perfect. You can always go back and revisit your blogs, and Google actually rewards you for revisiting your blogs and editing them. 

Talk About and Share Your Travel 

Share your travel schedule on your website, share it on your stories, and explain to couples what your process is with booking destination weddings. One of the things I do want to say is that just because you are niched down into a few locations, that doesn’t mean that’s the only place you can book destination weddings. It just means that’s where you’re more specialized and you do travel there.

I have booked many weddings without ever having gone there before. I booked a wedding in Arizona for this year and I’ve never been to Arizona. I haven’t even met the couple yet. They decided to book me because they loved my photography style so much and found me through other travel content. 

So again, you don’t only have to book in your niche locations. If you talk about your travel, or even share your personal travel in your stories, Tik Tok, or reels, that is going to enable couples to trust you more and to want to hire you regardless of where their day is because they simply know you’re trustworthy. 

Optimize Your Packages for Booking in Travel Locations 

One of the biggest mistakes I see in mentoring other photographers who want to book more destination weddings and in auditing their pricing guide is that their pricing is not optimized for travel. It’s also not specific to the couple who is inquiring. What I mean by this is if you have a package guide right now that shows all of your pricing for everything under the sun that you offer, then I want to encourage you to break it up into different guides, and then send the specific guide to the specific inquiring couple. 

As an example, if I have a couple who’s inquiring about a destination wedding in California, I will not send them a guide that has any of my Colorado pricing in it. I’m only sending them the guide that is my travel guide so they know I’ve made it very easy for them to see what their pricing is going to be and there are no surprise fees. Every package says travel is included, so it’s clear. 

Another thing to consider with optimizing your packages for booking and travel locations is for your website when a couple hasn’t even inquired with you yet. You want to make sure you differentiate between what is your starting pricing for your local packages and what is your starting price for your travel packages. This will avoid you from being ghosted whenever you do have dream couples inquire in a location you would like to shoot in. 

More From This Episode 

I could go on and on about how to book more destination weddings and even just how to market yourself in an advanced way or utilize your email list to book more of these destination weddings. 

This is why I’m so excited to teach very in-depth on this topic in my program Scale It which is coming out in Q4. If any of this interests you to dive deeper on, you really want to scale your photography business and add more advanced strategies as far as SEO goes, or marketing, blogging, or running ads, or utilizing your email list well, or adding prints and albums and being able to consistently upsell them, or build a team, then I want to welcome you to join the waitlist. 

As always, no pressure to join, but it truly will be the place where I’m offering exclusive discounts, exclusive offerings, and exclusive bonus things that only the waitlist will see. You will also have the opportunity to pour into the program and let me know what would actually serve you whenever it comes to scaling your business, so you’ll have insider details. I would love to see you there and connect with you in that way as well.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Get on the waitlist for Scale It 

Follow Claire: 

Claire’s Instagram


Notion Template 

Email Templates

Book It Mentorship Program

1:1 Mentoring

The Shop

The Amazon Storefront


Attract and Book Dream Couples Free Workshop

Hook Inquiries – Email Templates

Top 10 Resources You Need


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