Destination weddings have been popular for a while now. But honestly? There isn’t a ton of information out there on what to do when you want to bring certain vendors with you for your wedding. Last fall I traveled to both the Dominican Republic and New Orleans for weddings and there was a learning curve I went through when planning for both trips! So if you are getting married in a fun location and want to bring your photographer with you, then here are some great tips on what to expect when bringing them with on your destination wedding.
1) Paying for travel fees/accommodations
You need to budget for paying their photography fee in addition to their travel fee and accommodations for your destination wedding. If you truly want this specific photographer to capture your wedding because you love their style and personality, you will need to add onto your budget those costs. Most photographers I know will book their flight and accommodations on their own and will add the fees as part of their invoice to the client. I can tell you I worked closely with my DR couple regarding the flights. They rented a huge property in the DR, so booking a room wasn’t something I had to do. I was lucky! But this is not always the case!
** I will add that some photographers will waive certain fees or offer a discount if you are going to a place they have never been to and want to capture a wedding at. But that isn’t the industry norm and should not be expected. As for my policy, if it is a destination that is high on my list, I will usually only charge accommodation and travel fees. In fact, one of my next blog posts will be locations I would love to travel to for a wedding. But Hawaii is number 1 on my list #justsayin!
2) Have them close to the action
When discussing accommodations, it is in the best interest of the photographer to stay in the same resort, hotel, rental situation as the couple. I say this for a few reasons. First, the photographer is close to the action. From personal experience, being able to capture the place the couple is staying at, documenting all the little things was a big deal. In the DR I was able to capture the grounds, the rooms, and more! It’s also something we, as photographers, don’t have time for on a typical wedding day. Second, if you hire the photographer to capture your rehearsal dinner and maybe some more moments the day after the wedding, they aren’t having to navigate local transportation to get to you frequently. It makes it so that everything is just easier for everyone.And easy is best for your destination wedding!
3) Do not put them in a sketchy hotel
Say the resort or rental house is booked solid. Huzzah! Your family and friends can all make it! But, you need to put the photographer up at a different spot. Please put them in a hotel that is safe. That you would feel comfortable staying at with your family jewels. Photographers travel with expensive gear!! I am talking thousands of dollars worth of gear. They need to stay at a place where their gear will be safe. So please understand when discussing hotels, why the photographer is picking a place that has higher stars or is a bit more expensive. A slightly higher price = better security = safer gear! When I do quotes for destination weddings, I usually have a few choices for hotels so we can discuss options.
4) Determine your resort’s photography policy before booking
A few years ago my cousin got married in Cancun and they booked an all-inclusive wedding that came with a photographer. When I talked to her after the wedding, I came to find out they had no wiggle room to bring another photographer. So if it is important for you to bring the photographer you love, get the resorts policies in advance. That way you can pivot to a different resort if they are inflexible about their photography policy. I mean, it makes sense. The more they can wrap into a package, the more money they make. Just see if there are loopholes you can wiggle with.
5) Check the country’s government policies on outside vendors
Certain countries will not allow you to bring an outside photographer with you to your destination wedding. You know which country has some of the strictest laws about this? Canada! Your photographer will need to obtain a work Visa for your wedding and if they don’t get one, they could be prevented from entering the country when traveling to your wedding. Also, the likelihood of them being approved is slim, as you would have to prove that there is no one in Canada who can do the same job exactly like the photographer you want. I know of other countries where this is the same. So please make sure to check all the rules before putting a non-refundable retainer down on a photographer. As well, if there is a fee for the work Visa, be prepared to cover that cost for the photographer.
6) Understand they need buffer time
When traveling there is always the chance that things will awry with flights. When I was working with my couple for the DR trip, we had me flying out two days before the wedding just in case. Thankfully nothing went wrong with the flights and we had an extra day to enjoy the pool, the weather, island time!! But you just never know! So anticipate your photographer requesting to arrive two days or more before the wedding. As well, I know from experience, the day after a wedding is sore and you’re exhausted, so traveling is a struggle. Although I did this for both destination weddings last year, I recommend staying an extra day to rest.
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