As a photographer and someone who loves to travel, what part of a destination wedding should you start planning first? Flights, accommodation, racetracks within easy driving distance? I can’t quite remember what was second, however, I do remember that flights to France were the first thing I wrote down and started to work on. Over the years I have been fortunate to fly predominantly with Singapore Airlines, both professionally and for family holidays, so that was an easy first tick on the ever growing checklist, the only hard part on picking flights was to either go via Singapore or possibly Dubai. Singapore would be the quick get to France option, Dubai would be to visit friends in Abu Dhabi for a couple of days if possible. Time dictated Singapore so that was an easy decision made. For accommodation I went with Air BnB, both to save a little on costs and also to have more space and features. It is nice to be able to pack light and do laundry and to be able to cook the odd meal rather than eating out every time.
One thing I learned early on is that weddings in France are done a little bit different to what we typically do here in Australia, there has to be a State accepted ceremony which takes place in the Bride’s parent’s home town. This tends to be a small affair in the local town hall with only a few close friends and family present. After that, anything goes. My couple was married in Richemont, which sounds exactly as you think it does, as long as you know not to pronounce the T, and then they had a more formal ceremony and reception at a Chateau in Basse-Rentgen. Yes, the names just roll off my uncultured Aussie tongue.
As I obviously speak no passable French, regardless of implied accent on English words, watching and shooting a ceremony is a little bit difficult, to say the least. My game plan was to carefully watch expressions and listen to crowd reactions, and I figured that if people start laughing, take photos. Also, if people start crying, take more photos. I also made sure to take more photos in between. Just to be sure, after all, there are no retakes for something like this!
So what were the real lessons learned?
Firstly, regardless of country or culture, being asked to photograph a wedding is quite an honour, probably even more so when the clients like your work and ask that you consider flying several time zones away to show up for their big day.
Secondly, always be nice to the clerk at the airline check-in counter, because your carry on bag filled to the seams with cameras and lenses and the odd Speedlite is going to be far heavier than what is usually allowed in the cabin. This is another area where Singapore Airlines always shines.
Thirdly, enjoy the day and try not to cry too much when the really emotional moments during a wedding occur, and there will be many, even when you have no clue what anyone is saying.
Oh, and as for that racetrack, I did consider Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, it was less than 2hrs away, but realistically it had to be the Nurburgring in Germany.