It's easy to dream of immortalising your love story in the endless sand dunes of Abu Dhabi, or under a blanket of cherry blossom trees in Tokyo, but what really goes into preparing for a destination pre-wedding shoot?

Sebastian Teh from Loveinstills shares his tips and experiences to achieve the pre-wedding shoot of your dreams.

Book ahead

Like all vacations and trips abroad, it always helps to book early and plan ahead. In the case of your destination wedding shoot, deciding on your theme allows you narrow down the dates of your photoshoot, such as Japan’s sakura season in April, or the aurora borealis in the Nordics from September to April.

Once you have your dates and locations set, purchase your flights for better seats and to avoid fare hikes. You'll also need ample luggage allowance for your gowns and suits. 

“Destination photo shoots—or even local shoots for that matter—require careful planning, especially with regards to logistics and even calculating the travelling distance from one location to another,” Sebastian says.

“Tourist attractions or popular locations may also require photography permits, so be sure to write in for permission and find out the fees or restrictions involved.”

Also, book your photographer early so they can plan ahead.

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Choose the right photographer

Wedding photographers are aplenty, but that doesn’t mean that all of them will be a great fit for you. Read reviews and take a look at their portfolios to see if their photography style resonates with the concept that you want. Most importantly, two-way communication is key to determine if you can work well together.

“Look for a photographer who wants to hear your ideas and expectations, and is willing to give you an honest feedback instead of saying yes to everything. A passionate photographer will be happy to share ideas, tips, and trick to make the photoshoot experience better, and do his/her own research to find the best possible time and condition to achieve the photos you want.”

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Plan your time wisely

Time is of the essence during a photo shoot, especially when you are overseas, so plan your schedule effectively.

“Don’t be overly ambitious—just because you have three days to shoot doesn’t mean you should squeeze in six to ten locations or have up to ten outfit changes. More locations does not equate to more usable photos, and if the distance between each location is great, you will end up spending most of your time in the car instead,” he advises.

Travelling time aside, make sure you have ample time for your prep team to do your makeup and hair, as well as for the photographer to set up lighting and equipment.

“Discuss with your photographer and seek their input on how much time is required per location, so there is sufficient buffer time for him/her to set up. If there is someone to assist the photographer, that will certainly be a plus.”

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Look your best

Travelling can take a toll on your appearance, so don’t forget to eat well, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. A facial mask always helps, but remember to stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.

If you are travelling to a drastically different timezone, allow yourself time to rest and adjust your body clock to avoid looking jet-lagged.

“Try to engage a local minivan or seven-seater with a driver, so that you can catch up on much needed rest between locations. The vehicle will also afford ample space for your props and attire and serve as a back-up changing room in the event that there is none,” Sebastian shares.

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Just have fun

There may be a lot of work and preparation that goes into a destination wedding shoot, but once you’re there, enjoy your time! Furrowed brows or forced smiles definitely don’t show up well in photos. And while you may have your expectations on the type of photos you’d like to take, don’t be afraid to try something new. Communicate to your photographer the "must-have" photos that you want, then allow them free play to work their magic.

“Trust your photographer and allow him some creative freedom to explore and produce better quality images, instead of cookie-cutter wedding photos. Also, don’t be afraid to try new poses. Sometimes, a couple may be asked to stand or pose in a precarious manner, but a responsible photographer will not push them beyond their comfort zone or risk their safety.”

This story originally appeared on Singapore Tatler.