I got my first dose of destination wedding photography when MY wedding photographer Terra brought me to Aruba with her as a second shooter. Five days of shooting in one of the most gorgeous places in the world, with that crystal clear unreal blue water as our backdrop, and I was officially diagnosed with Destination Wedding Fever. Don’t get me wrong- I love Virginia, and I love exploring all that my gorgeous state has to offer. But there is something so exhilarating about the chance to shoot somewhere I’ve never photographed before, with completely different landscapes as my set. I love traveling for weddings! And it doesn’t have to be to somewhere tropical- this year I have weddings in Kansas City and England, and I’m just as stoked (actually, probably even moreso) for those as I was about Aruba! The change of scenery is like water to my soul- it pushes me and feeds my creativity. I LOVE IT.
Why plan a destination wedding? Part of it probably has to do with the stress- it’s likely a lot easier to plan for a small group of 20 close friends and family on a Caribbean island resort than it is to plan for 175 close to home. And I’m thinking the that the stunning backdrop of wherever said wedding is being planned probably has something to do with it, too. Virginia is beautiful, but there’s something so breathtakingly incredible about Tuscany, Italy. Something that may not occur to brides when planning their destination wedding is that bringing a photographer from home with them might actually help alleviate even more stress! Why is that? Let’s look into it:
#1. Connection! I’ve preached time and time again about how important it is for my couples and I to have a relationship, so that by the time I step into the bridal suite on the wedding day, I’m not just some hired vendor, I’m a friend. That relationship allows me to do my job BETTER than if my first introduction to the bride is on the biggest day of her life. Finding a photographer you love in the States means you have an opportunity to get to know them here during your engagement session and throughout the wedding planning process, so when you meet up overseas for the wedding, it’s just the continuation of a relationship the began months ago. One less this you have to stress over :).
#2. Language barriers! While it’s true that most resorts are staffed with employees fluent in English, if you’re going somewhere that isn’t an all-inclusive vacation, it may be a tad more difficult to find someone accustomed to working with destination, English-speaking couples. Bringing a photographer from home will ensure that you’re not struggling to communicate with elementary, improvised sign language.
#3. Quality photography! While Matt and I were honeymooning in St. Lucia, I watched the resort photographers at work around the grounds. We also went into the photo shop while we were there and looked through their samples of albums and such, being the nosy photographer that I am. Nothing against the photographers at the resort, I’m sure they’re very lovely people, but the photos I saw left me really disappointed. Much of it was typical, cheesy posing, too much flash in the faces of the couples, and a generic “one size fits all” approach- each wedding, each couple looked exactly the same. And for couples who don’t really care about their wedding images, that’s fine- that’s why those resort photographers are there. But in my opinion, every bride, every groom, every love story and every wedding is different, unique, incredibly special, which is why I never approach weddings with cookie cutter mindset. And if your wedding is taking place somewhere beautiful enough to warrant a wedding, I believe your images ought to do your wedding day justice.
*Side note- there are some seriously amazing wedding photographers who reside in destination wedding territory who don’t fall into the “resort photographer” category. #3 doesn’t apply to them at all!*
#4. More shooting opportunities! When you bring a photographer from home, you may be able to find time to fit in something like a love shoot before the wedding, or a trash the dress session afterwards. We actually shot TWO trash the dress sessions in Aruba- one beforehand (don’t worry, the bride brought an extra dress) and then one after the wedding in her actual wedding dress. When I shoot James & Deanna‘s wedding in England in June, we’re doing a “Part Deux” engagement session in London two days before they say “I do.” That way, when the wedding day is over, they also have more “every day” images to hang around the house in addition to their wedding photographs.
If there’s a photographer in the States that you really love but didn’t think about bringing with you for your destination wedding, at least talk about it with your betrothed! To me, there’s nothing more disappointing about a destination wedding than when the images are lackluster and poor in quality because they couple didn’t realize that bringing a photographer with them was a possibility. I LOVE to travel and positively jump at the chance to shoot outside my normal stomping ground, so… if any of y’all are thinking you may want to get married in Italy? You should definitely, DEFINITELY call meAlso on my bucket list are England (soon to be crossed off!), Rome, Santorini [Greece], Shannon [Ireland], Paris, New York City, and the Caribbean again!
What about you all? If you could get married anywhere in the world, or shooting a wedding anywhere in the world, where would it be?