Why a destination wedding?
Brides ask us all the time if they should plan their wedding at a local venue or make it a destination wedding. Our answer is always the same, we would plan a destination wedding!
Destination weddings really aren't about the destination, but rather the experience. The experience of gathering your favorite people together and having a party without the stress of being home. If you find the majority of your guests are traveling from out of town to attend your event t a destination wedding is perfect for you. Why have everyone travel to Dallas when they can travel to the Caribbean instead. I recommend suggesting to your guests to make a family vacation out of your wedding. Have your guests fly in a few days or even a week before the ceremony. That way, everyone has time to enjoy a few excursions, play in the pool, snorkel, and relax before the event. This helps encourage people to disconnect from normal life and truly enjoy the event. Not to mention, gives everyone time to sort out any travel or resort complications that may arise.
Ok, so hopefully, I have convinced you that a destination wedding is a good idea. Now onto the meat.
How to plan a destination wedding:
A planner is a must. Even for local weddings, planners are a must. But for a destination wedding, where you are unfamiliar with the area, a planner is crucial. Finding a good planner that fits into your budget can be tricky, but in most cases, the more you spend on a wedding planner, the more you can save on your wedding. A good planner has connections with resorts and venues and knows how to get you discounts and incentives. They also will make sure your guests are taken care of as well. Anytime travel is involved, the more prepared you are the better the experience will be for everyone involved.
Who pays for travel? Traditionally, guests pay for their own travel expenses. Now this isn't to say that you can't help out. Helping can be done in several ways -- you can be creative. Try asking your planner about a group discount with the resort and airfare. The earlier you start this process, the better the discounts are likely to be. You could also opt to contribute to everyone’s expenses either by paying for part of their room or giving them a stateroom credit to pay for things at the resort like drinks and activities.
Does it have to be exotic? Absolutely not! Most destination weddings occur within the United States for several reasons. Travel within the U.S. is generally cheaper than international locations. Staying within the U.S. is generally safer. But most importantly, we have some great domestic wedding locations! Check out Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Miami, and Portland. Don't forget the cold locations either: the Grand Tetons, Colorado, New York City, and the list goes on and on! Oh and don't write off Vegas, it can be done with luxurious class.
Do I fly in my photographer? So, as a wedding photographer who specializes in destination weddings, my answer is a little biased but I will try to be objective. The biggest question is "do I use a local photographer or fly-in a destination wedding photographer?" It really depends on the resort. Some resorts have absolutely terrible photographers. They are paid by the hour by the resort and they show up, shoot your ceremony like they have shot every other ceremony with zero creativity or emotion. This is who you need to avoid at all costs. They don't care about you or your wedding. These situations are extremely sad to me. To me, your wedding is the ultimate celebration in your life and that requires my best work and all of my focus. Sometimes, finding a local photographer is a viable option, ask your planner. Your planner should have some photographers they have worked with that they trust. I know this is cliche, but you have to remember, when it’s all said and done, the only thing you have are your photos and memories.
If I may give a small plug to my services, I have to say that I take a very different approach to destination wedding photography. For me, I prefer to show up to your festivities a day or two before the ceremony. I like to mingle with your group and to get to know everyone as much as possible. If time permits, I like to take my couples on an excursion, maybe a four wheeling trip to a waterfall or a Catamaran trip across a reef, something where I can get to know you and your spouse-to-be and take some once in a lifetime breathtaking images of the two of you. This extra day also allows me to take part in your rehearsal dinner, your cocktail parties, and your pre-wedding day brunches by the water. All-in-all, I want to photograph your friends and family having fun. I promise you, it’s so worth it!