This is a post on how to plan destination weddings during the COVID-19 pandemic. At ShootDotEdit we want to help photographers succeed. But we do not support photographers doing anything that makes them feel unsafe. We also recognize that some photographers want to (and have to) be photographing right now. No judgement should be passed on any choice. We do not believe you should be photographing if you’re not ready to be out there, and if you ARE ready to be photographing (and your couples are ready to be booking) destination weddings, these tips might help! Please stay healthy and stay safe.
The thrill and romance attached to a destination wedding are unmatched. The excitement of getting married at an exotic location and fulfilling the dream of a fairytale wedding is a goal for many couples. Destination weddings have become fairly common over the years, but with the Coronavirus pandemic, everything has changed drastically, including the concept of destination weddings.
With countries across the globe still maintaining shuttered borders and travel curbed to control the spread of the virus, couples who had made bookings for destination weddings this year have had to reschedule or cancel. But as restrictions start to ease, it’s time to start planning destination weddings again! But this time, the planning will be considerably different.
Destination Wedding Tips to Share With Your Clients
As the world slowly starts to return to normal, and your clients start planning their destination weddings, you could try sharing your own tips on how they can plan a destination wedding during the pandemic.
1. Advise Your Couple to Do Thorough Research Before Picking a Destination
The first step in planning a destination wedding is choosing an ideal location for the wedding. Suggest your couples research destinations that are open to hosting weddings during the pandemic. Also, tell them to take a look at the COVID history of the places that they like. They should also keep a check on any new COVID-related developments in that city/country. This research should also include the best time to visit the destination. Some destinations might have extremely wet months and others might get too hot, so it’s best to know the weather everyone would be dealing with.
Once the destination is decided on, you can ask them to check out different venues and confirm if the selected venue is following all safety measures and maintaining hygiene standards. Additionally, you can also suggest that the couple visit the destination before making any bookings or commitments. If it’s feasible, you could also join them on this trip. It will help you to prepare better for the big day.
Alternatively, you could also do some research yourself. After all, this is about your safety, too. Keep an updated list so you don’t have to do the research every time a couple approaches you for a destination wedding in the future.
2. Have a Chat About the Destination Wedding Budget
Destination wedding budgets can get tricky. Let your clients know that while all their calculations may be in order, they might just end up spending more due to certain emergencies or unforeseen circumstances. Advise them to stay flexible with their budget. Also, if they don’t plan well, they might end up spending much more than they expect. You could suggest they plan separate budgets for travel and vendors. Also, remind them about the effect of the conversion rates if applicable.
3. Help your Couple to Pick the Right Wedding Planner and Vendors
When planning a destination wedding, your couples might want to buy a wedding packagewith a local planner (read building wedding planner relationships). If you already know some vendors and planners at the selected destination, you could perhaps refer them to the couple. You should also make an updated list of the same and try to do your own research into it. Ask the venueabout vendors and planners, read online reviews and definitely check out their social media.
To avoid any problems later, you may want to advise them to bring their own hair and makeup artists to the destination wedding. Hiring someone at the destination might not be the same as bringing someone from their hometown.
4. Assist Them With Their Guest List
Since it’s a destination wedding, the guest list might not be that long. . Advise your couple to keep their guest list limited to close family and friends, and consider avoiding inviting the elderly since they are at a greater risk. Those who are unable to attend the wedding can join you via Zoom.
5. Encourage Clients to Send Invitations Early
Destination weddings mean that guests have to alter their schedules to be there, and also be willing (usually) to get on a plane. Advise your client to send out their destination wedding invitations early so that guests have the time to move things around and also prepare to travel during the pandemic. Sending out the invitations early also means that they might get an exact figure on how many people will actually be attending the wedding. This will ultimately help them plan better.
6. Suggest Your Couple Get Familiar with the Laws of the Chosen Destination
Every state/country has their own marriage laws. Suggest your clients research all the wedding-related legal issues at the selected destination. Ideally, they’d want their chosen officiant to legally be able to declare them ‘married’ in their chosen destination. They may also have to file certain paperwork back at home for a marriage to be legal where they reside.
7. When planning a destination wedding, help Them Find a Hotel for Their Guests
Most guests may be paying for their flights and stay.. The couple could offer to find guests a hotel that offers discounts, and you could help the couple in their research for a hotel so that everyone will get to stay and enjoy the wedding together. Suggest a hotel that is near the venue, and if there’s no luck with that, find a shuttle service (or ask the hotel if one is available). If the group is small enough, an Airbnb or vacation home rental could be a better bet..
8. Suggest a Shuttle Service
Moving around in taxis or other forms of public transportation in an unfamiliar location could be difficult for some guests. Also, considering the pandemic, it’s probably not the safest way to travel either. So, advise your couples to hire a shuttle service for their guests, especially if their hotel is far from the venue. It would make life easier for the couple too as they wouldn’t have to spend their time worrying about guests getting lost or not being at the venue on time.
Quick Tips for Destination Wedding Photographers
Now that you know how you can go the extra mile and help your couples plan their destination weddings during COVID, here are some tips that we think might be helpful for you:
- Do your own research about travel restrictions.
- Besides your passport and Visa, prepare any other documents that you may need to carry due to COVID restrictions.
- Not sure about traveling right now? Don’t say yes or no right away, give it some thought.
- If it’s possible to reach a wedding destination by car, then opt for that. It’s may be safer (or at least more comfortable) than being in a plane or train.
- Find out whether the chosen destination is allowing weddings and what the rules are for photography in that city/country.
- Contact the chosen country’s embassy or other tourism bodies to know whether and for how long you need to quarantine after arrival.
- If you book a destination wedding shoot, get your medical kit in order. Besides all the basic medicines, try to carry anti-bacterial wipes and sanitizers.
Let Your Knowledge Guide You
COVID has been tough for most of us, but that doesn’t mean we stop planning our futures. The world is beginning to restart and right now, adapting to these new norms is important for everyone. So, if you do agree to shoot a destination wedding, try to keep yourself up to date with all COVID-related news in that location, and get your medical supplies in order. Let your clients know that you are on board and try to work as a team with them to keep everyone safe.
At ShootDotEdit, we believe in providing services that help to reduce a wedding photographer’s stress. Whether you are shooting a local wedding or heading overseas or to another state, click here to check out how we can help your business.
Meanwhile, if you want to attract more clients your way in these difficult times, read our Top 18 Ways to Book Weddings in the Age of COVID-19.