7 top tips for a great destination engagement shoot

Apr 13, 2023 | Engagements

Destination engagement shoots are more popular than ever and a great way to celebrate your relationship by capturing special moments on film. If you have always dreamed of documenting time traveling together, such as exploring the Tuscan countryside, Tuscany, meandering through the cobblestone streets of Paris, or exploring your favorite seaside town, a destination engagement session can capture these unique moments where the two of you are enjoying effortless time together.

So what do you need to consider when planning a great destination engagement shoot? We asked Virginia wedding photographer and Fine Art Curation member David Abel Photography, who has captured many international love stories, to share seven top tips for planning a seamless destination engagement session experience.

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1. Choose a location that fits your vision and style:

Do you dream of exploring a century-old village in Tuscany as you stroll down the narrow streets looking for the perfect cafe, or taking in the views atop the cliffs of the Amalfi coast? Perhaps you'd like to relax with cocktails on the pebble beach in Nice, or drive a vintage MG through the rolling hills of Bordeaux as you tour vineyards? Maybe hiking through the Redwood forests is more your thing, or enjoying a sunset sail in the Caribbean?

When choosing the location for your destination engagement session, don't be afraid to dream big and plan for something that excites you as a couple. If you lean into fashion, plan for a session that brings out a chic editorial vibe, whereas if you lean into adventure, plan for a session where you are exploring or enjoying an activity together. Whatever you choose, just be sure to choose a location that brings meaning to your story.

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2. Consider the climate of the destination

Good weather is key to a successful shoot so always have a backup plan in case it isn't what you'd hoped for. If you are dreaming of an Italian destination, keep in mind that it can be pretty cool in the early spring and late fall months in northern destinations such as Venice and Lake Como. On the other side, the temperature can get pretty warm in central and southern Italy during the summer months, so be sure to keep temperature in mind when choosing a destination. Also have a back up plan in case of inclement weather such as an alternative location nearby or an extra day set aside. Additionally, bring along a couple of umbrellas incase of an unexpected rain shower.

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3. Plan your session with your wedding photographer

Whenever possible, we suggest doing your engagement session with the photographer who will be photographing your wedding. This way you not only get to know one another in front of the camera, but you will have more consistency in style for your engagement and wedding photos. Many photographers are willing to travel, so don't be afraid to ask your wedding photographer to capture your destination engagement session as well.

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4. Choose wardrobe options that match the location and vision

Your photographer will have an eye for matching wardrobe to the location you have chosen. Colors, textures, and patterns all play a role in how your final images will look. Work together to find wardrobe options where you feel effortlessly chic.

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5. Check local requirements and secure necessary permits

If you are hoping to do your engagement session at a particular venue like a Tuscan villa, French chateau, vineyard, museum, or national park to name a few, you will need to contact the location in advance to secure any necessary permits. Securing a permit ensures that you are aware of any requirements or rules of the property. A permit may also grant you priority access to locations that may otherwise be off-limits to the general public. Be sure to secure any permits as far in advance as possible to reserve your preferred date.

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6. Arrive early to the location to settle in and recover from jet lag

To look and feel your best, allow yourself at least a day to acclimate to the destination (especially if you are traveling over multiple timezones). Take some time for yourselves and settle into the culture, enjoy a leisurely meal, or head to the spa for some relaxation before your session.

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7. Opt for a sunrise session for highly crowded location

For popular destinations in large cities, opt for a sunrise session to beat crowds. Arrive to your starting location just before sunrise to have the best chance of having places like the Piazza del Duomo in Florence, or Piazza San Marco in Venice, or the Arc de Triomphe in Paris with limited distractions.

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