How To Plan An Adventure Wedding

Getting hitched next year? It's high time to start planning. Photographer Jesse Pafundi has a few tricks to help you get the most adventure out of your big day
August 20, 2016Words by Liv CombePhotos by Jesse Pafundi

We know what you’re thinking: wedding season is almost over, right? Wrong. This year's wedding season might be over for those of us who have spent the last four months capitalizing on the open bar, but for the people behind the scenes, planning for next year has already begun.

Our intrepid photographer headed to Iceland for his fifth wedding anniversary – and snapped a few photos while he was there

If you connect with a photographer's work, get in touch early and lock him or her down if you can.

You've seen those tireless folks in all black carrying around 25-pound camera bags well past the time when the cake has been cut: those are wedding photographers, every wedding’s official memory-makers. And they're particularly busy making memories this time of year, since late summer and early fall is prime time to get next year's weddings on the books. So if you're planning on getting hitched in 2017, it's high time you reach out to photographers and do a little matchmaking of your own.

“Don't drag your feet,” says Jesse Pafundi, owner of the New York-based Golden Hour Studios. "The biggest certainty is the uncertainty of when specific dates will be snatched up. If you connect with a photographer's work, get in touch early and lock him or her down if you can.” Yes – that means a-year-out-or-more kind of early.

Luckily for you, booking a wedding photographer isn’t all about to-do lists and logistics; if you choose the right person, it can actually be pretty damn cool (kinda like marriage, yeah?). Jesse specializes in helping couples find the adventure in their wedding days, and if these photos he took of him and his wife in Iceland for their five-year wedding anniversary don’t prove it to you, we don’t know what will.

So here are a few tips and tricks from Jesse for you to keep in mind as you’re thinking about how you might want your own wedding – and the photographs – to turn out, whether you're standing in your backyard or on top of a mountain.

Throw Traditions Out the Window

"I see little reason to stick to traditions for the sake of sticking to traditions. You are marrying your best friend and everything else is secondary. You don’t want to do a cake cutting? Don’t. You want to get married in a legendary field of pine trees while the birds serenade you? Do it. This is the biggest hurdle for most people, but once you realize you can control every aspect of your wedding and make it fit to your personalities, everything can – and will – fall into place."

Keep It Outdoors

"If you think about the entire theme of your wedding as one cohesive event and not a sum of different parts (getting ready, ceremony, reception), doing as much outdoors as you can truly ties that adventurous theme together. Some of the most beautiful weddings I have captured have come together in totality. Getting ready at a mountaintop house, an outdoor ceremony surrounded by nature, and banquet style dinner tables under the stars. When all parts of your day come together in unison, it’s a beautiful thing."

Consider Your Mode of Transportation

How does flying in a helicopter to the top of a mountain sound for panoramic views?

"I don’t mean limos. Do you love to kayak? Do you love to bike? How does flying in a helicopter to the top of a mountain sound for panoramic views? Just because this is a wedding doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate what you love in life. I strongly believe you should do that very thing. Do you know how excited I get when a couple tells me they want to set aside plenty of 'adventuring time' on their wedding day? The answer is very excited – and their photos instantly go next level. So don’t let a wedding dress or suit stop you from paddling around a lake."

Just Elope

"Now, I understand that it may be difficult to not be surrounded by dozens of close friends and family, but eloping gives you the ultimate marriage flexibility. You can literally get married wherever or whenever you choose. (Bonus: elope on a weekday, and many photographers have a special reduced rate for you since our schedules are much more flexible.) I hiked a mountain with a couple and their little girls because they wanted to get married on a ledge overlooking the Catskills. They are the ultimate outdoor enthusiasts, so this was the most meaningful way for them to tie the knot. Not to mention, we captured some pretty incredible images. Believe me when I say that your imagination is your only limitation." [H]

Jesse Pafundi is a New York-based wedding and travel photographer who married his high school sweetheart.
Contact him with inquiries here.


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