You've heard of destination weddings, but have you ever considered a destination engagement shoot? For many this may sound daunting in addition to an already lengthy planning to-do list – the verdict is in, it doesn’t have to be! And what better way to kick-start your engagement celebration than to share a bucket list trip with your fiancé and have it professionally captured by your favorite photographer? Two birds, one stone.
Read on to see how Brooklyn based couple, Joni and Brian, jumped on a spontaneous flight to Iceland to have the engagement shoot of a lifetime with destination photographer Anni Graham. Who knows, maybe it'll even inspire you to do the same.
Hi Anni! Tell us a little about getting to know Joni and Brian :)
As soon as Joni found out that I was going to be in Iceland, it was just inevitable that we were going to do their engagement photos there and I couldn’t have been more excited. Once the tickets were booked, it was a slew of text messages back and forth of all the places we wanted to discover, and we did just that. I knew they were the coolest not only because they were so down to come all the way to Iceland, but because it didn’t seem like an impossible thing to do. I think a lot of people are intimidated or overwhelmed by the idea of travelling and doing something spontaneous, but it’s actually not that hard, and Joni + Brian just get it.
Why would you recommend couples choose a destination for their engagement photography?
This is probably a subjective opinion, but being engaged was the best season of my life. I loved it so much. It usually doesn’t last too long and there’s so much anticipation, planning, and transition that is hardly given as much credit as it deserves. I know weddings are a big deal, but celebrating getting engaged in an amazing place and having a totally new experience together just makes it all the better. Especially if you are planning a big wedding that might be a little stressful, it's probably the only time you get to take a trip with just the two of you before your big day. I promise, if you do something that’s just for you two, you won’t regret it.
What was it like shooting in Iceland?
We spent the day together, experiencing these incredible places for the first time together, Brian taking iPhone photos in the middle of each session because it was just that cool. It felt so much more than just an engagement session, it really, truly was an experience. My favorite moment was when we shot at Skogafoss, one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. It was late and most people had left the falls so we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. I tried capturing just how incredibly massive the waterfall was, while the mist soaked my camera and I was wiping it down every 3 seconds. I honestly had no idea if I even got anything, but it ended up being some of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken. Everytime I look at those photos, I can feel that waterfall all over again.
What is your advice for couples considering a destination proposal, engagement or elopement?
Do it, you won’t regret it. And choose a photographer that really understands you. It’s that one time in your life when you get to do everything you’ve dreamed of and no one judges you, so don’t hold back. Remember that it’s all about you two, and the people you choose to surround yourself with. If there was one thing I could tell every bride it’s that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. The more you create the experience to what you value the most, the more meaningful and significant it will be even if everything goes wrong. Take all the opportunities to intentionally celebrate your love because they are much harder to justify when life gets crazy.
From bride-to-be, Joni:
Brian and I had been talking about going to Iceland together basically since the day we met. We live in Brooklyn and direct flights from New York are only about five hours and very reasonably priced. Fast forward a year and a half to our engagement and we still hadn’t made it to Iceland. When I heard our wedding photographer, Anni and her husband, had planned a trip to Iceland, I immediately brought up the idea of us all meeting there to shoot our engagement photos. Why not, right?
From the moment we rented a car and starting driving, this place felt and looked like a different planet. Anni asked if we’d be down for a sunset shoot at 10pm and we jumped on the opportunity! We spent the entire next day exploring while Anni took photos everywhere from the Black Sand Beach in Vik to the insanely beautiful canyon called Fjaðrárgljúfur. It was unbelievable just experiencing Iceland alone, but the fact we had it all documented by my favorite photographer made this the trip or a lifetime! Not only because Anni did an incredible job with the photos, but also because of the unforgettable experience Brain and I shared together.
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