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December 6, 2017

How To Photograph A Destination Wedding

Over the past four years,  we’ve traveled to North Carolina, New Jersey, Missouri, and soon Georgia to photograph weddings and sessions. Being based in the middle of Virginia, this requires a bit more planning on our part to make sure our couples get THE best experience. We take extra precautions and make sure to have plans placed ahead of time to photograph destination weddings.


If we have weddings within the States, we always pick the option to drive if we can. The main reason is to keep our equipment safe. We have seen one too many videos of airport staff throwing bags against walls and onto trucks that would shatter any delicate item in it. While our cameras are sturdy and we pack them in padding, any brunt force can effect the way a camera works. We make sure to rent a newer rental car that has the space and can handle long distance. Enterprise Rental has been our go to for renting and they have always been amazing! They make the process quick and painless with their online reservation process. Plus you can accumulate points to use towards additional rentals. They have everything from coverage on the vehicles to coverage for others. We love them!

Renting a car also allows us to move from ceremony, reception, and portrait locations quickly. This leaves the burden off our brides and grooms from having to stuff us into their cars, rentals, or bus. We can get to locations ahead of time for first looks or bridal portraits to plan for lighting and compositions. And we have extra space to help carry anything for our bride and grooms.

 While we have yet to fly with equipment, if you plan to fly, pack gear onto your carry on to prevent damage to your most essential equipment.

Back-Up Equipment

As a husband and wife team, we have always needed to have more than one of everything. We recommend you always having a backup camera body. It’s essential when you’re shooting weddings with higher volume of images. Used gear from authorized retailers could even work if buying new is not an option.

Make sure the products you purchase are not grey market. Nikon and most repair shops will not cover equipment that are not from authorized dealers. If you are unsure if a product is a grey market, ask for model numbers and use the Nikon website to check if the model numbers are valid. Don’t forget to ask when the last time the equipment was calibrated, cleaned and serviced. The last thing you want is purchasing used equipment that fails on you!

If you can’t purchase additional equipment, try renting them. Borrowed Lenses offers rentals for a few days to a week for equipment when traveling. Keep in mind during Winter months, shipment can be slow due to snowstorms or inclement weather. You will need to plan well ahead of time for gear to arrive on time.

Additional equipment avoids having the couple losing out on images due to a malfunction during the wedding day.


When you are traveling with gear, especially in a different state, make sure to track all of your gear. We have a checklist of all the equipment we take and use check-boxes to track everything. Often times, pack-up happens at the end of the night for weddings — when it’s dark. Our bags and equipment also happen to be dark, it’s easy to miss a lens or card.

The checklist will keep you on track to avoid having to repurchase or travel back to retrieve it. It’s also a good idea to tag your gear in case it is found by a wedding vendor or family member. This way they know who to return it to.


Depending on the distance and location, we always plan to leave a day or two ahead of time. This helps in case we run into traffic, major accidents, road closures  or inclement weather. The last thing we want is showing up late to the wedding.
Always plan to be there a day or two prior and then build in extra time on top of that for travel. If you are using a rental car, add in extra days to pick up and drop off.
We photographed a wedding in Missouri that luckily we had no issues getting there. On our way back home, we ran into a snowstorm. Fortunately, we had already added in an extra day to drop the car off to avoid issues with the rental office.

Prepare ahead of time as much as you can!

When we arrive early, we use that time to walk through the ceremony and reception spaces to prepare our lighting and equipment. We can plan for possible portrait locations and double check travel times to and from locations to stay on track on the wedding day.

Things To Think About

When you’re packing, be sure to include extra batteries, chargers, a laptop, and a hardrive. Once the wedding is finished, it’s a good idea to immediately back up all the images, just as a precaution. It will put your mind more at easy having images in more than one location.

Try not to keep your equipment in parked cars for extended periods of time. One for safety, and two to avoid equipment from getting damaged due to weather conditions. Most cameras are built to be sturdy and withstand the elements. Even still, cars heat up much quicker on hot days and colder on freezing days. It’s not a good idea to keep equipment in extreme temperatures for extended period of times.

We always pack snacks and drinks for our drive up, the stay, the wedding day, and for the drive back. This prevents us from having to stop often and if we do stop, we make it quick and use drive-thrus to avoid leaving our equipment unattended.

We also pack extra clothes and shoes just in case. Photographing in rain or snow can seep through clothing, so being prepared helps. It’s no fun photographing in wet clothes or catching a cold!

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