Considering a Destination Engagement Session? Read this!

Feb 2

What’s a Destination Engagement Session?

A “destination engagement session” is exactly what it sounds like: Taking your engagement photos in a special city/state/national park instead of where you live or where you’re getting married. They’re also a way to make your engagement photos even more unique, with spectacular photos and a memorable experience!

Of course, it can be fun to take photos at comfortable places you visit all the time, or even in your own home, but some couples like to go all-out for their engagement photos. It’s a great option for couples who love traveling and adventure!

⬇️Now let’s dig in to the details on how who to hire, where to go, and how to keep it cost efficient! ⬇️

Best Locations: Airports with Amazing Locations Nearby -

Sedona, Arizona

 

Why you should bring your photographer with you

So, you’re thinking about a destination engagement session but are hung up on one of the first steps: Who’s taking the photos?? One option is to hire a photographer local to the place you’re visiting. But, I’m making the argument that bringing the wedding photographer you’ve already hired is super beneficial.

Establishing a relationship with your wedding photographer before your wedding is a crucial part of getting awesome photos. That’s the reason that I include an engagement session complimentary with my wedding packages. I truly believe that it’s an invaluable part of the whole experience. Taking engagement photos is a perfect way to get comfortable in front of the camera (it’s completely normal to be a lil freaked out). You’ll also get to know your photographer on a personal level. From a photographer’s perspective, actually knowing who I’m photographing helps me taking way more personal, fun, and natural photos.

“But won’t a local photographer know the best spots?”

Nope! Not necessarily. Never underestimate a great photographer’s ability to shoot in brand new places. I pride myself on being very good a researching and scouting locations. Don’t let this be a determining factor with hiring a local photographer or bringing your own photographer with you.

In fact, when I’m home in Austin shooting at a location I’ve been to 5, 10, or even 20 times, it can be a real challenge to stay creative and not fall into a pattern of shooting the same way every time. I actively push myself to pretend like I haven’t been to a location before in order to see things in a new light (literally). There are so many benefits to shooting in new places!

Arizona Desert Adventure elopement photos

Phoenix, Arizona

 

Tips for choosing a location

When you could take your photos literally anywhere, choosing a location may suddenly feel daunting! But don’t worry, I have some tips for ya:

  • What are the cities/states/national parks that you’ve always wanted to visit together?
  • Choose a place your photographer suggests, either because they’ve been there before or they have a grand vision for amazing photos at a certain place.
  • Consider the season. If you want to take your photos in January or February, the east coast will look pretty dead, but the southwest will look as beautiful as ever!
  • Consider places that have a similar style to your wedding. What types of photos, colors, landscapes would look great as decorations at your wedding?

 

Diablo Lake North Cascades National Park Engagement Photos

North Cascades National Park, Washington

Best Locations: Airports with Amazing Locations Nearby

My favorite section of this blog!! Let the brainstorming and Google Flight searches begin!

 

Airports with amazing photo locations within 50 miles:

  • Desert: Tucson, Phoenix, Las Vegas

  • Mountains: Salt Lake City, Denver, Asheville

  • PNW: Seattle, Portland

  • Big City: New York, Washington D.C.

  • Cute City: Charleston, San Francisco 

  • Beach: Orlando, Most of California

And speaking of Google searches, use Google Flight Tracker to compare prices over time.

 

National Parks that are easy to get to:

  • Saguaro NP – Fly into Tucson (30 min drive)

  • Olympic NP – Fly into Seattle (2 hour drive)
  • North Cascades NP – Fly into Seattle (2 hour drive)
  • Rocky Mountain NP – Fly into Denver (1.5 hour drive) or Boulder (1 hour drive)

  • Arches NP – Fly into Salt Lake City (3.5 hour drive) or Moab (basically no drive)
  • Great Smoky Mountains NP – Fly into Knoxville (45 min drive)
  • Mount Rainer NP – Fly into Seattle (1.5 hour drive) or Portland  (2.5 hour drive)
  • Death Valley NP – Fly into Las Vegas (1.5 hour drive)

 

duke chapel engagement photos

Durham, North Carolina

 

How to keep costs down

  1. One easy way to reduce expenses is to take your engagement photos on a trip you’ve already planned! Heading to the beach one weekend? Ask your photographer to meet you there. Flying to visit family in a pretty part of the country? That’s perfect.
  2. If you’re flexible with either the location or dates, you’ll be surprised what great deals a little internet digging will turn up.
  3. Limit it to a 1-2 day trip or a long weekend instead of a full-on vacation. Flying into an airport with amazing locations just a short drive away also helps you maximize your time.
  4. Consider sharing a ride with your photographer so you only need one rental car.
  5. Simple ideas like keeping food costs low and finding a budget AirBnB instead of a hotel can help you save a lot.

When comparing the costs of different locations, use this formula: Flight + Hotel + Rental Car = X. Those are the three big factors. Other costs (food, gas, etc.) will be similar no matter the location.

 

Telluride, Colorado Snowy Winter Engagement Photos

Telluride, Colorado

 

Summary: So, should we do it?

You’ll be married for 40, 50, or 60 years. During that time, hopefully you’ll have professional photos taken of you many times, documenting fun times and big changes in your lives. Your engagement photos, however, happen only once.

You’ve probably noticed that this special time goes by fast. It can be so nice to take a couple days to slow down, travel together, and reflect on this unique time in your lives. And doing that on a mountaintop or in your favorite city makes it even more memorable of an experience.

Still have questions about destination engagement sessions? I’m here for you! Let’s talk about creating some magical destination photos of your own.✨

 

Hear from LG bride Lauren on her experience at North Cascades National Park:

“My fiancé and I are still in shock by how much we love our pictures and we find a new favorite every day. Lauren made the entire experience so easy for us – she had each photo location already mapped out and she made us feel so comfortable. We will be living in Washington after we get married and I am so grateful we got to take pictures in the mountains that we love so much.” – Lauren W.

 

Seattle, Washington

 

See a destination engagement session on the blog >

Planning a destination wedding? Eloping? Read this! >

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austin, Texas + ready to travel anywhere