I love photographing Queenstown heli-weddings. I mean come on, you’re on top of a mountain-top with incredible lake and mountain views all around you, it’s just you and your loved ones not another soul in sight…what’s not to love?
However, there are two big variables that can make heli-weddings more challenging in some ways than a traditional wedding. Those two variables are;
- The helicopter
- The mountain-top
So, how do you plan and prepare to get the most out of your heli-wedding? Here are my Top 10 Queenstown Heli-Wedding Tips to help you have an even “awesomer” heli-wedding;
DRESS/PREPARE FOR THE MOUNTAIN-TOP
1. Brides, bring flat-soled shoes with you as well if your wedding shoes are high-heeled. Mountain-tops are not well known for being flat and smooth-surfaced. There may also be cliffs near your ceremony/photo location, and chances are your photographer will want to put you near the edge for photos. If your shoes won’t be visible beneath your dress I would recommend wearing your flat-soled shoes before you even get in the chopper as well as during the ceremony and family/bridal party photos. You can always put your real-deal high heel wedding shoes on for one or two photos.
2. Bring a warm jacket or throw. Any weather you experience at valley-floor level will generally be exaggerated at the higher altitude of your moutain-top heli-wedding location. This means that that gentle 5 kmph breeze you felt in Queenstown might be a chilling 30 kmph wind up top.
3. Keep in mind that if it is windy up top, any veils and “hair-down” wedding doos might come off second best. I normally recommend that heli-wedding brides at least consider a “hair-up” doo for this reason but obviously that’s your call. (Even if you’ve got perfect blue skies it can be hard to get beautiful wedding photos when the bride and bridesmaids look like they’re standing in front of a wind machine!).
4. Don’t forget sunscreen! NZ has little enough UV/strong enough sun as it is, it only gets worse at higher altitude where the air is thinner. Make sure you put some sunscreen on or you might be pink as a lobster the next day.
IT’S THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME SO MAKE THE MOST OF IT
5. The various Queenstown helicopter companies offer quite a range of time spent “on the ground”. Some companies will give you an hour “on the ground”, some only half an hour or 45 minutes. This is the total amount of time you will have at your heli location to;
- Have your ceremony
- Be congratulated by friends and family
- Take any family photos
- Take bride & groom photos
- Enjoy a glass of champagne with your wedding guests.
- Spend some time with your new husband/wife actually taking in the scenery, the moment and just “being”
When you take all the above into account you realise that even if you have an hour up on the mountain-top it will race by in no time and can be a real squeeze for your photographer. 30 minutes on the ground is almost no time at all! So, it’s worthwhile going for as much time on the ground as you can, whether that means considering using a different heli company or inquiring about the cost for a little more time on the ground.
6. For the same reasons it’s not a bad idea to consider booking your photographer for an extra hour or two on top of the heli flight/ceremony. That way you can get more variety in your images (by shooting at a totally different type of location, like by the lake-edge or in the forest/a beautiful garden) and it will also take the pressure off both you and your photographer because you know you can fill in any photographic blanks at the non-heli locations if you run out of time on the mountain-top.
WHATEVER THE WEATHER
7. Helicopters can fly in some pretty wild weather. However, you and I might not want to be IN the chopper in said wild weather. And we almost certainly wouldn’t want to be standing on a mountain top for an hour or so in gale-force winds, driving winds or snow. So in short, sometimes a heli-wedding is just not an option due to weather. (Keep in mind though that the helicopter company will do their utmost to make it work by changing to a more sheltered heli-location, changing the flight time or even date if possible).
So it’s important that you and your photographer and celebrant have a bad weather back-up plan in case you aren’t able to fly on your wedding day. If your vendors are experienced locals who have done many heli-weddings before they should be able to recommend some bad weather backup options. Make sure you discuss this well ahead of your wedding day so you’re prepared.
Right, that’s about all for now. Heli-weddings are an amazing way to get some absolutely stunning wedding photos so they are worth it. It just pays to be prepared so you can deal with whatever little bumps in the road mother nature throws at you!
(Don’t forget, sometimes wild weather gives you the most unbelievably beautiful photos).