The Rise of the Multi-Day Wedding
For many of us, the landscape of our business has changed immensely over the past few years due to the impacts of COVID-19. Many of us have couples choosing to change their Wedding or Elopement plans…or being forced to, due to border restrictions. This all just bought to the fore what some of us have known for years (and maybe not acted upon yet)…that not all Weddings are created equal and we need to provide services to suit both the client, our style and our goals. This differs for each of us, but it’s always good to keep an open mind and have a look and listen to what others find to be working for their business and lifestyle.
Cat Ekkelboom-White originates from the UK, but now resides in Austria, surrounded by the stunning Alps where she operates her photography business Wild Connections Photography. Looking at the photo essay below, photographed by Cat, we can certainly see the appeal for the couples choosing this experience as the way they’d like to celebrate their connection, not to mention the smorgasbord of visual deliciousness this multi-day wedding provides the photographer!
Now over to Cat for more of an insight…
The Rise of the Multi-Day Wedding by Cat Ekkelboom-White
Multi-day weddings aren’t a new invention. They have been around for quite some time. Centuries actually. In many Asian cultures it’s very common for a wedding celebration to last three or four days, depending on which traditions are being observed.
Getting married isn’t always a simple process, and depending on where you live in the world, where you want to get married and who you are marrying, that process can vary dramatically. For some it’s a wonderfully simple process, while for others it can be complicated and drawn out.
Then there’s the matter of the beliefs of the couple. Some couples believe the day they get married is when they have their civil marriage ceremony and sign their marriage license. But there are other couples who don’t feel like they are truly married until they have had a ceremony or blessing as part of their religious beliefs or said their personal marriage vows to one another. So what happens when the civil wedding and the religious or spiritual wedding ceremony cannot take place on the same day? Which day was the real wedding day? And how do you decide which one you hire a photographer for?
Multi-Day Wedding Coverage
In Austria where I live, it’s quite normal for the civil ceremony to take place on a different day from the church or symbolic ceremony. I’ve also seen it happen a lot with destination weddings, where couples have a small civil ceremony at home with close family and then have a destination wedding with a symbolic ceremony. This way of doing things has been happening long before I started shooting weddings in 2015.
But even though multi-day weddings aren’t a new thing, I’m definitely noticing that they are growing and evolving. Not only are more couples choosing to spread out the celebrations, but they are also choosing to document more of them too, which is great for us as photographers.
Even before Covid, I was seeing an increase in the number of couples who were interested in capturing multiple days around their wedding. Couples who were planning destination weddings often had a whole schedule of activities planned, and they wanted them all captured.
Since Covid came into the world, many couples were forced to consider a multi-day celebration, simply because their original plans were no longer possible. As weddings around the world were cancelled or heavily restricted in many countries, lots of couples were forced to confront the difficult decision of whether to keep their original wedding date and get legally married now (in many cases with no guests and no reception) and celebrate again later or cancel everything and wait. And as we’ve seen, many of those that have chosen to go ahead have got wonderfully creative with how they have chosen to celebrate. Many of these couples still wanted their small civil weddings documented, and they still wanted to make the day something special. But many will celebrate again at a later date with a symbolic ceremony and a larger guest list when it is finally safe to do so again.
No more choosing between a Wedding & Eloping
Covid weddings and elopements aren’t the only reason to have your wedding over multiple days though. They can also be the perfect compromise for couples who want to elope but also want to celebrate with family and friends.
Not every couple who dreams of eloping knows for certain that it’s the right decision for them. Some couples are genuinely torn between an elopement and a wedding celebration with their closest family and friends. They don’t want to get married without the most important people in their lives with them, but they also want to have some time that’s just for the two of them. That’s where multi-day celebrations can be the perfect solution. On one day everyone comes together and on the other day the couple has a day that’s just for them.
I introduced a two day coverage option into my packages in 2020 and for 2022 it is becoming my most popular package. When I talk to couples during the initial consultation about their options, they often thank me for introducing them to the idea of having a two-day celebration and taking a day for themselves where they can do their vows privately and enjoy an intimate experience that’s just for the two of them.
It’s not just weddings that I cover for multiple days. It’s also elopements where it’s just the couple. If you’ve only ever shot an elopement where it was just a couple of hours of coverage before, you might be wondering what on earth a multi-day elopement is!
There is no standard format to a multi-day elopement, and that’s the beauty of them. But they are truly wonderful. I’ve had one where the first morning started with the civil ceremony and then we went on a three-day adventure hiking and climbing, sleeping in mountain refuges at night and getting up in the morning for a sunrise vow ceremony. I’ve had another where a multi-day trek across the Dolomites ended with the final day being the day they exchanged wedding vows, and I documented the highs and lows of the whole adventure.
With multi-day elopements, many couples are choosing to make their elopement a once in a lifetime experience lasting multiple days, often combined with a honeymoon, and since they aren’t having a big wedding celebration, they value having this once in a lifetime experience documented by a photographer. As the photographer, it’s not like a 3-day long portrait shoot. You really are there like a journalist or an adventure photographer to capture their story and the experience they are having. It’s a huge honour and a lot of fun, but it can also be pretty intense because often it’s just the three of you for two or three days together.
How can Photographers get more multi-day bookings?
Couples are unlikely to book something that they don’t know is an option, so start sewing the seeds of possibility to your couples that a multi-day wedding is something they can do. Talk about the benefits of them on social media or write a blog post about them. Add a 2-day option to your price list or have an up-sell for additional days. Plant those seeds of possibility in your couple’s minds and watch them grow into multi-day bookings.
HUGE thanks to Cat, for writing this informative piece for us, and for sharing these stunning images from Emma & Martin’s Mutli-day Wedding Elopement in the stunning Dolomites. Bucket List right there. Be sure to check out more of Cat’s beautiful work and the adventures she’s led with her clients, via the links below.
Cat Ekkelboom-White is the woman behind the multiple-award-winning wedding photography brand Wild Connections Photography and the Adventure Wedding Academy, an education platform for elopement photographers.
A British expat, Cat has built a life and business in the Austrian Alps, where she’s an industry leader in adventurous weddings and elopements. She works with couples from all over the world to capture their unique wedding day, empowering couples to create a wedding experience that’s unique to them.