• Five Things To Know For A Destination Wedding

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Just because wedding season is over doesn’t mean people aren’t getting married!

For this reason, in the “off season” you’ll see a lot of destination weddings, where couples travel to far more tropical/scenic locations with filmmakers (you!) in tow.

Now, if you’re a frequent reader of this blog you know that Stillmotion swears by the importance of pre-production (we even have this Vimeo Video School Series!)…

Destination weddings are no exception to our rigorous pre-production, but there are a few steps of preparation that we take extra time to focus on when traveling to film a wedding in a faraway place.

Specifically, there are 5 things we always want to know ahead of time…

1. Know Your Environment

What’s the weather like where you’re going? Is it dusty, sandy, humid?

Many destination weddings are in tropical locations, meaning you’ll need to keep a few things in mind when it comes to climate.

Lens condensation: In a humid environment you’ll find that lens condensation can become an issue if you don’t acclimate your lenses. The reason it happens is because your camera/lens is colder than the environment you’re in (because you’ve had it sitting in your air conditioned hotel room).

Our advice: Be sure to bring out your camera and lenses about 20 minutes before your shoot so that they can get used to the air and you won’t have to deal with lens condensation!

Dirty lens/sensor: Much like a long drive can lead to an increased level of dead bugs on your windshield, a weekend in Aruba can lead to dirtier-than-usual lenses and sensor issues. This is an obvious problem because it can destroy your image, and you’re really going to be screwed if you realize that in the middle of the wedding.

Our advice: Bring extra lens and sensor cleaners and prepare to use them!

2. Know What You Don’t Need To Bring.

Ok, seriously — do not pack any gear that you won’t actually use!

That might seem obvious, but when you’re focused on being prepared the impulse is often to bring something “just in case.” But if you’re really prepared to tell this story, you will know everything you need — and don’t need — to bring with you.

Some tools are just better for traveling and shooting with. A monopod, for example, is so versatile, light, and durable. Spray a little WD-40 on the ball joint after a sandy day at the beach and you’re good to go.

You still want to be using the right tools for the right job — and the thing to think about with a destination wedding is if there are lightweight and travel-friendly tools that fit the bill. Also, look into what you can source from a local grip house and assess if that’s a better decision financially.

3. Know The Schedule.

This is a step of pre-production that you should never ignore regardless of where your shoot is, but with destination weddings it’s extra important because (depending on story) you might want to do some shooting in the days that lead up to the wedding.

The only way to know is to ask the couple what they’re planning to do during their stay, and get as much detail as possible! They’ll probably have a schedule of some kind that you can request a copy of.

Here’s an example of a wedding we shot in Paris that would have been a seriously different story had we not inquired about their travel plans…

Ask yourself: what are these people doing BESIDES getting married?

Knowing this information is huge, and it’s something the filmmaker needs to inquire about because the couple isn’t going to think to themselves “hey, maybe we should let the filmmakers know that we’re going on a tour of Paris with the whole family.”

4. Know Your Power Options.

As you’re preparing for your shoot, spend some time making sure you cover all your bases when it comes to power. Make sure you know what kind of adapters you’ll need to bring — and make sure they’re not going to cause light flicker.

Additionally, think about the space you’ll be using power in and what it can handle — sometimes you’ll need a power converter.

Once when we did a shoot in a castle in Hungary (omg). What we didn’t think about was that running HMIs with power adapters in a super old castle might be more than it can handle. We accidentally killed power on the whole floor… yikes!

If you know your power options ahead of time and come prepared with the proper equipment, you can avoid a power crisis and have one less thing to worry about!

5. Know The Meaning

This is, of course, the most important of all!

Destination weddings can happen for a few reasons — one might be that it’s winter/crappy weather and they just want to go somewhere nice for their wedding.

The other reason is that the place they’re in really means something to them or really says something about who they are.

As you’re doing discovery and identifying the story for the couple, ask yourself and ask the client:

Why are we here?

Is it just to be somewhere beautiful, or is this a place that is important to the couple in some way?

Sometimes the destination is really a big part of the story, in which case it deserves to serve as a sort of character in the wedding film.

A great example is Jess and Brian’s wedding we shot in Ireland. We asked them why they were having their wedding in Ireland, and the answer to that question told us a whole lot about who they are as people: adventurous, fun, spontaneous, and family-oriented.

Their wedding film focuses on their connection to the country and why they chose to go there, because that really was the story that needed to be told — and it said so much about them as people!

Read our full blog post about Jess and Brian’s wedding and the amount of pre-production that went into filming it… it was a doozie!

Now prepare for your next destination…

Ok, to review our top 5 things to know before shooting a destination wedding…

  • The environment.
  • What NOT to bring along.
  • The schedule.
  • Power options.
  • Meaning: where does the location fit into the story?

And there you have it.  Staying on top of these 5 things is what helps us prepare and stay ready for anything when we set foot on a sandy beach or vast countryside to shoot a wedding.

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What do you do differently to prepare for a destination wedding?

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10 Thoughts on “Five Things To Know
For A Destination Wedding

  1. I like what Ross T said about having people on hire as support staff. As I can imagine it can be very hectic while traveling and trying to stick to pre-production plans.

  2. I did my first destination wedding a year ago and I have two coming up this winter. These tips are very good. If I am in the US I try to rent some gear and have it shipped to the location when I arrive (esp if the hotel can sign for it).

  3. I was hoping to read about what you can expect in terms of legal requirements? Would you expect to have to get a work permit and stuff like that?

    • Great question. Every country has their own requirements for permits and such so we would suggest adding that research to your pre-production. Requirements will change based on the party that is hiring you, where you’re flying from, and individual legal requirements (if any).

    • Great question and exactly what I was wondering. Speaking of Paris, could you mention if there were any specific work permits you needed to obtain to film a wedding there? Just curious!

  4. I would also add, know your local options! In some countries where your dollar goes far, you can hire support staff : drivers, someone to move equipment, etc. for a small amount of money.

    • +1

      Having someone local who can act as your guide/fixer will go a long way if you find the need to scout locations, sourcing gear, ect.

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