I believe that our early experiences in life shape us. When you have a good “first” experience with something, it’s easy to get hooked.
Since I was a young boy, I’ve always gotten a thrill out of packing my bags, and traveling to new locations. Similarly, early on in my wedding photography career, I had the opportunity to photograph a beautiful beach resort destination wedding in Hilton Head – and since that day, I’ve been hooked!
This last year alone, I did some more destination weddings in some of my favorites cities across the Southeast corridor, in towns such as Asheville, NC, and Charleston, SC, two cities I've written about extensively, due to their charming tourist appeal, and nostalgic personal experiences I’ve had there.
And let's be honest: who doesn't enjoy nice weather, being able to photograph stunningly beautiful wedding ceremonies, enjoying a few drinks on the beach, or strolling through a fun eclectic hipster town browsing through a few local the following afternoon? To me, the idea is just as romantic as the wedding itself.
Why Destination Weddings for Me?
Many photographers have the goal of shooting destination weddings as they continue to grow their skill set and experience. Similarly, as I’ve I grow as a photographer, my desires and goals have expanded the same way, to further, more renowned towns, and more “epic” venues. When you're capable of shooting weddings right in your own backyard for dozens of brides and grooms each year, you eventually hope that your work speaks for itself, and prospective couples outside of your own city consider bringing you in for their big day, to do the same thing for them. And exactly that has happened for me.
After all, when you really think about it, there isn't much that's different from a ‘regular’ local wedding where you live, and one in a far away destination. The premise of why you’re there is still exactly the same. It’s still two people, surrounded by friends and family, saying their vows, declaring an undying love for each other and a lifelong commitment to each other, sealing the deal with symbols of their love, kissing for the first time in front of everyone they know, and finally, walking down the aisle together.
This is the story time, and it doesn't change.
If you're able to photograph that for someone around the corner from you, more times than not you're able to do the same thing for people far away. Really, at that point, there are a few considerations that couples who have destination weddings consider, such as “would you travel to shoot my wedding?”, and “how much would it cost me to have you shoot my wedding?”.
And usually, once there’s an affirmative answer to the former, and a reasonable answer to the latter, it’s not that hard for either the couple or the photographer to arrange travel accommodations either with the photographer. That’s the way it worked for my past destination weddings (read more about how destination weddings work at this blog post).
So that's a little bit on how they work. Now on to the main topic of this post: 25 amazing locations that I'd love to shoot a destination wedding in!
As a lifelong Traveler, I I realized very early on that there are a million places on this planet that are utterly gorgeous, with a rich history that people should enjoy. Some people don't enjoy traveling very much; not enjoying having to pack their belongings up, drive or fly for hours, or just be in new locales. Me, on the other hand, I started traveling at a very young age, and by my teenage years, I'd seen good amount of the world already, so I’m used to it, and enjoy traveling. I lived up and down the East Coast (grew up in Philadelphia, went to college in Georgia, currently live in Charlotte), and I love the fact that cities in different regions of a country can be so wildly different from each other.
How I Approach Destination Weddings
When I travel for destination weddings, I try to make a full experience of it. I love arriving a day or two early to check out the local scene, learn a little bit about the city, and get a feel for the wedding venue. This last item is incredibly important: In my experience, many photographers don't do this, often waiting until just one hour before the wedding to see the venue for the first time – I think this is a huge mistake, and many brides don't realize that their selected photographers have never seen their venue, and have no idea how to photograph it beautifully.
So I’m there early to get a feel for the town, and your wedding venue. This way, the next day, on your wedding, I have a great deal of insight as to how your venue will photograph, and I’m already made a mental list of the best places and backdrops to take you on your day to make sure the pictures look amazing. Because I’ve done just an hour or two of basic prep work, the wedding goes super smoothly, and I don’t spend time scratching my head wondering what to do.
The day following your wedding (often the same night, around midnight!), I immediately begin backing up each of the 1,000 – 2,000 photos I took at your wedding, narrowing them down to the the strongest images, and the editing process. It's a very fun process, and by sticking around, I'm able to edit your photos much, much faster, then if I tried to travel back home and then begin editing. It’s also ‘safer’ from the aspect of file protection. Right after your wedding, I immediately back up your files price on separate hard drives that I own, and also put a third backup of your raw files into the cloud, where I can sleep peacefully knowing that no matter what, your photos are protected. The very next day following your destination wedding, I begin editing, to show you some peaks, right after your big day, which keeps you excited, and in the momentum of the day as well as gives you peace in knowing that photos are protected with someone you can trust.
This is a glimpse into how it works with me for Destination weddings. I enjoy them greatly, but as you can see, I take them very seriously, just like I would any other wedding. There are some destination wedding photographers that give others a bad name, giving the impression that all they want to do is travel.
I absolutely love traveling, but like anything else on your big day, I understand the weight and responsibilities that I have to use you as a professional – I do not take these lightly. Make no mistake: I have a great time, before the wedding, during, and after, but I'm there to provide you with professional, top-notch quality service, and at the end of the day, beautiful images.
So, with a little bit of background into why I do destination weddings, and how I do them, I love to share with you a list of my top destination wedding locations that I’d love to visit to photograph your wedding. Some of these cities are stateside, some outside of the country. But whether international or domestic, there are many places out there I believe would make for for absolutely stunning wedding photos, and I'd love the chance to shoot a wedding there:
1. Orlando Florida.
I've been to Disney World three times; twice as a child, once as young adult – but never to shoot a wedding. I believe that a ‘Walt Disney wedding’ would be magical, and the idea alone brings out the little kid in me again. Some places you can't help but get excited about, and Orlando’s one of those. But it’s not just Disney, though. See, I'm the type of traveler that would actually take advantage of everything the city has to offer (not just the theme park and wild rides), after the wedding. What I really enjoy about traveling is getting a ‘taste of the town’, from the enjoying local cuisine, to sampling some of the music of the area, to binging on history. There are a lot of things there in Orlando that could keep me interested, and add to the flare of a Walt Disney World wedding.
2. Asheville, North Carolina
Okay, with this one I cheated a bit, since I've already shot a few weddings there. But this is one of my three favorite cities in the U.S. for me, hands-down, so you can understand it’s always going to be on my list. Here in the South, Asheville is the ultimate hub for eclectic. The city’s full of young, vibrant, stylish and artistic folk who live here and now. Not quite a big city, but not a small town either. There’s a healthy dose of life and zest there, and it’s situated right in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The topography of the mountainous NC towns thrills me, but so does the charm of the city. And so Asheville appeals to me. And I think that's why so many love birds choose this city, then – it's so easy to fall in love with.
3. Tucson, Arizona
Who gets married in the desert? …Easy answer.
Those who have seen the epic wedding photo candy that is created only with cities like Tucson, Arizona as your backdrop. City weddings are beautiful, country weddings are Charming, and beach weddings are all the rage, but if you want unique: you need a cactus backdrop for your wedding.
What intrigues me about weddings in general, is how they're all about personalization to the couple's identity. Weddings are not for everyone, for those who loves the Southwest, there’s no better place than Tucson.
4. London, England
How amazing would it be to get married in London? Even if I could have spent a month here when I visited, wouldn't have been enough. In the three short days I was there back in 2015, I did as much as I could humanly possibly do, and still never ran out of things to do. The sheer variety of this city is undeniably appealing for a couple, like a New York. It's easy to see why hundreds of thousands of people marry here ever.
At one point, my mom considered moving here for retirement one day to experience life at a different pace. Upon my visit, I understood what she meant by that an absolutely love to shoot a wedding in London.
5. Barcelona, Spain
This is a city that has it all, including a central-ness to just about everything. Barcelona has incredible architecture, lush greenery, when you get away from the cityscape, and even a reputation for absolutely stunning beaches. I haven't been there before, but what I've seen and heard has me wanting to go so bad. I love a city with true history that has survived for hundreds of years, with artifacts from centuries ago surviving today. That's what enthralls me about Philadelphia, PA (my hometown!), or other stateside favorite cities such as St Louis, MO, and even cities outside the country, like Barcelona!
This historic city’s journey dates back to Roman times, and you can see it in the architecture and feel it in the culture. So let's take a journey to Barcelona for your wedding!
And Ed Sheeran's festive anthem “Barcelona” only makes me want to go 10-million times more. Every city needs an ‘anthem,’ right? It's almost like the perfect marketing song for Destination weddings, in my book.
6. San Francisco, California
What I love about this place, even though I haven't been before, is that it’s more than just another ‘concrete jungle.’ I’ve been to several California cities, but not yet San Francisco.
It would be amazing to see the Northern side of the state, to get a more-rounded perspective of what the West Coast flair is all about, photograph a couple in those hills, and, who wouldn't want to marry with the stunning backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge? This is the stuff that photographers get truly excited about!
7. Amalfi Coast, Italy
I've had the privilege and pleasure of visiting Italy before, but not the coast.
When I went to Rome, I enjoyed my time there, however, I stayed only relatively briefly. When I return next time, I’d love to see some new sights. The Amalfi Coast would be high on the list for me as far as destination weddings go, because not only the topography is jaw-dropping, with orderly Scenic stretches of Italian Coastline that give dramatic views of the sea, but also because I felt a major sense of culture in this country when I visited. Being surrounded by local Italians who live there their whole lives, speaking their beautiful language, would be dream-like; picturesque. And I think it’s an easy sell, as far as wedding destinations and potential honeymoon locations go.
There’s just so much going on there, from Naples to Pompeii. It would be amazing, and a major privilege to photograph an Amalfi Coast wedding for a fun couple.
8. Edinburgh, Scotland
Believe it or not, I have family here. Additionally, I have always been enthralled by the beautiful scenery on the mountainsides of Scotland. This country is beautifully portrayed in movies, most notably for me, some of the Harry Potter films. It would be awesome to visit Scotland for a destination wedding.
I can only imagine walking the historic blocks of Edinburgh, dowsing myself in the culture and history, as as me and the couple take in the astounding architecture of this storied city. One day I’ll do so.
9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Now, I promise not to get mad at you if you read this name and thought, “ahh, the city of Brotherly Love.” But in case you didn't know, this is where I grew up, and spent 20 years of my life, before moving to the South. I still haven't had the chance to do a wedding here, but I know this opportunity is just around the corner. There is so much rich history and legacy here, as one of America’s earliest colonial cities.
For any couples planning to get married in Philadelphia, and considering local photography options, I'd hope they add me to that list. For one, I have family there. Secondly and more importantly, I truly know the city like the back of my hand.
One thing that all Philadelphians know is that there’s way more than just Center City, or South Street, for a wedding. There's way more than just the Philadelphia Art Museum, which, is undoubtedly one of the most amazing museums I have ever seen in life, second to the Louvre in Paris, France, personally speaking. I definitely took it for granted (just a tad!) when I lived there, but I’ve been there many times.
And no that if you brought me for your wedding, I’d take you to experience a ‘real’ Philly cheesesteak.
10. Maui, Hawaii
Many people feel like this is the most hawaiian island, and it's a bit obvious, but there are so many things that I would love to photographs here, that would be specific to the couple. Of course, you'll have your blue skies, and blue water, but mention many times on this blog before, it's what is individual to you too as a couple. Are you Interested in trying snorkeling? Or, are you likely to go on a exotic post-wedding hike? Things that I look forward to in capturing for someone's wedding day an exotic location like Maui hawaii. In other words colon I seek to take part in the non-obvious on a wedding day.
11. Tokyo, Japan
I've had the astoundingly privileged opportunity to visit japan once before, but it was only in the airport, briefly, a layover 2 china. However, that small taste, a big tease, really was enough to inspire a lifelong goal getting back to the Orient. I can imagine being fully engulfed in Japanese culture, from the rich music, to local food to the incredible fashion steepled in both tradition style. I have been obsessed aspects of Japanese culture since I was in elementary School dating all the way back to anime and japanese role-playing games parentheses I told you I was a nerd! Parentheses. For me as an adult, anywhere having to do with the country of Japan be a dream come true, for both me, and likely for my client, given how important it would be to tell that wedding story within the context of such a rich backdrop.
About the Author
Bonjour! I’m Robert, a wedding and fashion photographer based in Charlotte, NC. I’m also a recently-engaged, Game of Thrones nerd, jalapeño pepper lover, semi-fluent French enthusiast, space documentary geek, accomplished traveler, and conversationalist. For over a decade, I’ve loved photography and writing equally, so I figured, why not mix the two? Now I blog to share helpful wedding planning tips, document my couples’ sessions, and share a piece of who I am with you.
Interested in booking a session? Reach out here.