You already know I’ll use any excuse to travel internationally. So when my childhood friend Sarah asked if I’d join her and her fiancé Yasser for an intimate destination wedding in the Austrian Alps, I just couldn’t resist!
Enjoy Sarah and Yasser’s gorgeous Austrian wedding complete with unforgettable views, family fun, and more rosé than I’ve drank in the rest of my life combined.
MULTI-DAY DESTINATION WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
Sarah is from the US, Yasser is a Syrian refugee, and they now live together in Vienna. Safe to say, an international elopement just made sense!
While Yasser’s family sadly couldn’t make it to the wedding, about 20 members of Sarah’s family and some of the couple’s friends were able to make the trip. With international weddings, it’s usually best to invite fewer people and have them stay for multiple days. That way, you can save money on food and accommodations and your guests get their money’s worth (and their vacation days’ worth!).
As an international destination wedding photographer, I always suggest my couples book my weekend coverage package. This includes up to four days of photography coverage for your wedding (at home or away). I’ll get to capture all the big wedding moments – from the welcome dinner to the rehearsal through the ceremony and reception. Shooting weddings in this way feels almost like documentary photography. Instead of just getting the key moments, you get a complete album that focuses on your love, the human connection between your guests, and the stunning location you’ve chosen to share with them. It’s my favorite kind of wedding to shoot!
A WEDDING WEEKEND IN THE AUSTRIAN ALPS
Sarah and Yasser planned a four-day getaway for their friends and family in the Austrian Alps. They reserved rooms at a small resort on a lake, and they got to spend their days paddle boarding, kayaking, and lounging in the sun.
The days were fun, but the evenings were amazing. Sarah and Yasser planned a dinner for each night of the trip, and we all got to enjoy gourmet food among the most gorgeous landscape I’ve ever seen. Plus, the sparking rosé was flowing all weekend. I don’t think I’ve ever drank that much rosé in my life!
We spent the day before the wedding at a local shop picking Sarah’s flowers, and then we enjoyed an amazing rehearsal dinner on July 4. Yasser even wore a USA polo for the occasion! It was tons of fun sitting with their family, laughing and chatting the evening away.
GETTING READY FOR A DESTINATION WEDDING IN THE AUSTRIAN ALPS
The next morning, we jumped right into wedding prep! As I do with most of my international brides, I offered to do Sarah’s hair and arrange her florals on the morning of her wedding. These are things I love to do (and am pretty good at, if I do say so myself!). They’re also the things I’ve seen get most messed up during destination weddings. Between the language barriers and differences in local styles, it’s just best to have a trusted friend, family member, or your photographer help with the hair, makeup, and flowers.
While I helped Sarah with her hair, Yasser got ready with Sarah’s dad. Since his family couldn’t be there for the wedding, it was important to the couple that Yasser have someone by his side during the day. Sarah’s dad stepped up and supported his son-in-law through it all.
Sarah and Yasser both went super simple and elegant with their wedding attire. She had this silk shift dress, and we spiced it up with a flower crown and silk waist tie. Yasser went with a classic blue suit and a small boutonnière. After an emotional first look between the bride and her dad and a few bridal portraits on the balcony, we headed over to the courthouse for the ceremony.
BLENDING TRADITION AND PERSONALITY AT THEIR DESTINATION WEDDING CEREMONY
With an American bride, a Syrian groom, and an Austrian wedding venue, I knew this wedding ceremony would be unique. And it was! Sarah and Yasser met in this stunning all-white room in the local courthouse, and they had a pretty traditional Austrian ceremony. Unlike in American ceremonies, the bride and groom sit at a small table in the front of the chapel where they listen to the service. Then, they stand, exchange vows, and share their first kiss as husband and wife.
One small detail I absolutely loved: Sarah and Yasser signed their marriage documents as part of the ceremony. After their kiss, they sat back down to sign the certificate together. (I even got to sign as a witness!) This is actually really common in most of the world, and I vote we start doing it in American ceremonies!
BRIDE & GROOM PORTRAITS ON THE LAKE
After the ceremony, everyone popped down to a tiny restaurant nearby for a quick cocktail hour. I let the newlyweds grab a bite and a drink, and then I swept them away for some photos alone.
This part of the wedding day is so important to me. I always try to get my couple alone for a few minutes after the ceremony, even if they’ve already done the first look and couples’ portraits. Not only does this give them time to unwind after their ceremony, but it also creates a space for me to capture their genuine joy at being newly married. I love the images we create in the happy haze right after they say “I do.”
And since Sarah and Yasser were about to load onto a bus with all their family and friends, I think they were grateful for a moment alone! We snapped a few photos along the lake, took in the stunning mountain view, and met up with the guests for an hour-long trip up the mountain.
AN INTIMATE RECEPTION IN THE AUSTRIAN ALPS
For their reception, Sarah and Yasser booked a private meal at a tiny, family-owned restaurant up in the mountains called Gourmet Atelier. It was about an hour from the resort, so they chartered a vintage, glass-top Mercedes bus to take us there. The driver even gave us a history tour on the way up. (I mean, come on. Can this weekend get any better?!) The couple spent the ride up chatting with family, calling friends back home, and enjoying the post-wedding glow.
On the way up the mountain, we stopped alongside the road for even more couple’s portraits in the alpine fields and flowers. We passed through a rainstorm, marveled at the landscape, and laughed our way to the reception. I’m always a fan of group transportation for international weddings, but these two really knocked it out of the park.
Once we reached the restaurant, everyone gathered for a private dinner prepared by a local chef couple. I was blown away by this meal and the care that went into it. The chef and his partner make their own bread, distill their own gin, and butcher their own meat. Every detail of the meal is hand-crafted and absolutely delicious. And of course there was plenty of booze to go around!
We spent the night chowing down and chatting. Sarah and Yasser popped away for a minute to Facetime his parents in Syria, and I was so grateful to witness that moment. Even though they couldn’t be there to celebrate, I could feel their joy through the phone.
We went back inside, drank more gin, and relaxed well into the evening. By the time we headed back down the mountain, Sarah had picked up a leather jacket, Yasser was wearing his wife’s flower crown, and everyone was a little tipsy. What better way to end the night?
LOOKING FOR AN INTERNATIONAL DESTINATION WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER WHO’S AS ADVENTUROUS AS YOU ARE?
Look no further! I absolutely adore shooting these multi-day destination weddings and getting to know my couples on a deeper, more personal level. I’ve shot in Austria, Greece, Ireland, the Dominican Republic, and beyond!
Head over to my contact page, shoot me a message, and let’s plan the perfect getaway for you and your partner.
For more international wedding inspiration, check out the blog!