On this snowy day, I can't think of a better topic to discuss then beach weddings. I'm picturing the speedos and sunburns as I type...let's get to it shall we!
Destination weddings are work. A lot of work. For both the bride and groom and the photographer. That's the opposite of what most people think, but ask a bride who's had to coordinate 40 people's vacation times and budgets to get to one spot in a safe and sane manner, she may tell you it's more work then you're lead to believe! Though the rewards are many and the tans are glorious...
I'm not an expert, but I do have a fountain of knowledge in this area from which you should draw from. Your destination wedding isn't an excuse for a photographer to sip drinks by the pool for 7 days or to hit on the cabana boys (something I'm not guilty of *shifty eyes*). You need a concise contract signed on booking so you know what to expect: what days your photographer is working, what events they're covering, when they're arriving, when they're leaving, and what you're getting after the wedding day is over and your gorgeous tan is pealing like stain off my deck in the spring. When I'm shooting a destination wedding I stick to the agreement plus add in candids throughout the week to document little events here and there, even if it's just volleyball on the beach. In between this, if I want to do some reading by the pool then I do that without guilt, but I do my best to let people know where I'll be. And I rarely have a drink: if I get sick from travel or the food that's one thing, but being hungover is something else uncool entirely.
Why so complicated? Because weddings are complicated, because travel is complicated, because life is complicated! A bit of organization and communication goes a very long way in making sure everyone has an awesome and relaxed time while away and is still smiling long after you're home and back to wearing wool socks!
What the bride should do:
- make sure your resort (if applicable) allows outside photographers.
- get specifics from your photographer as mentioned above and make sure it's in your contract.
- schedule your ceremony long before sunset, unless you're prepared to have the majority of your wedding day images taken before you're actually married. Sunset ceremonies are beautiful but then the light is gone and you're standing around in darkness. Not conducive of good photographs.
- If getting married on a resort, see if you can save money by having your photographer stay for 5 days instead of the usual 7. My personal minimum requirement is 5 days to allow time for delays in travel, pre-wedding planning/scouting/shoots, and for day after sessions that are all part of my destination wedding package. However, many countries don't have options for flying out in under 7 days and if they do, many times the cost is the same.
- When you arrive at the resort, write down everyone's room numbers and make sure you let your photographer know which room YOU'LL be in. This is super important, without this tidbit of knowledge, it's nearly impossible to find people on some of those huge resorts!
What the photographer should do:
- check on #1 above.
- Have a candid and detailed discussion with your bride and groom about when you need to arrive, when you'll be shooting, and how many images they'll be receiving. Then sign a contract with all those specifics included.
- Make sure you have appropriate travel bags for securely packing your gear (I love my Airport International by ThinkTank that comes with locks and chains, she ain't goin' nowhere without me!).
- Get piles of sunblock and start hydrating!
- Plan lots of photos in the shade on the wedding day...no one wants their photo taken in midday sun on the beach in Mexico when it's 40 degrees out and everyone is burning and squinting.
- Have an awesome time and make tons of new friends! P.S. the majority of destination resort countries such as Cuba, Mexico, etc do not require you to have a work permit. Don't let any money change hands in said country and you should be fine. Read up on the specifics of whatever country you're traveling to: be prepared and then some. Leave copies of your travel info and passport with someone back home.
- If you're not flying with the bride and groom, pre-arrange a rendezvous time in the front lobby. Start solidifying wedding plans ASAP and get their room number and make sure they have yours.
Bon voyage and happy travels!
That's my two cents (looks more like $10) on that topic, I hope it helps you if you're planning a destination wedding, or looking to photograph one. Best of luck and remember, be organized and have an awesome time!
About the Author:
Lori Moss is a wedding and portrait photographer based in St. John's, Newfoundland. She also operates the BoomBooth photo booth.