How to Find a Photographer for your Destination Wedding

Choosing a photographer for your destination wedding is one of the most important decisions you’ll make while wedding planning! Not only am I a destination wedding photographer, but I am also planning my own destination wedding! So I’ve had a LOT of experience on both sides! Here is my guide to finding a photographer for your destination wedding!

Choose a Destination Wedding Location

Usually, the first step in choosing a wedding photographer is deciding on your destination first. You should definitely narrow in on a couple of dates and locations if you have a specific spot in mind. If you’re flexible on location, then your photographer might be able to help you find one! Many destination wedding photographers travel in their free time and know about some incredible locations, so they might be able to offer suggestions based on what you’re looking for! I recommend using Instagram hashtags to find a photographer that you love, then reaching out to see what their process is like! Most destination wedding photographers will be thrilled to help you pick a beautiful spot to have your wedding. Also, many photographers, including myself, offer discounted travel rates if you book around their upcoming travel schedule. So if you’re really flexible on dates & locations, this might be worthwhile to ask about so you can save some cash to use towards something else, like an adventure shoot! 

wedding ceremony in Big Sur California
Wind & Sea Estate – Big Sur, California

What is An Adventure Shoot and Why Do I Need One!?

Choosing to have a destination wedding is not the easiest route to take when it comes to wedding planning. If you decided to do one, then that probably means that you want a unique setting for your wedding, or you want to have a multi-day celebration to spend more quality time with your partner and your guests! Both of these are reasons why you should plan an adventure photoshoot with your photographer for your destination wedding. An adventure shoot is when you and your partner go out with your photographer to explore the location that you’re getting married in and document it with your photographer. An adventure shoot can take place before your wedding, maybe in the form of a “first look” with an intimate vow reading, or it can be after the wedding! In addition, you can wear more casual clothes, like if you’re having a boat day with your wedding party, or you can put on your wedding attire again! I know most brides will take any excuse to get a second wear out of their wedding dress 😉 Not only will an adventure shoot allow you to have more beautiful pictures in the special place that you chose to get married in, but it also will free up more time on your actual wedding day to spend with your guests instead of off taking pictures! 

Sanctuary Cap Cana – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

How to Find a Photographer for your Destination Wedding in Mexico

Your destination wedding location can play a huge role in finding your photographer. Luxury, oceanside resorts, like The Cape in Cabo, Mexico, are perfect for hosting wedding weekends, because there’s so much for your guests to do, and it all happens at one location! When researching resorts, you will want to ask if they require you to use their on-site photographer for your destination wedding. If they do and the style doesn’t match what you’re looking for though, oftentimes, they will allow you to pay a fee to waive this requirement. My recommendation would be to have your photographer stay on the property anyways, as a paying guest. This usually waives the outside vendor fee and works out in your favor since your photographer will be on-site to more easily capture all of the beauty of the place that you are getting married at! 

ocean view of Cabo Mexico
Los Cabos, Mexico

How to Find A Photographer for your Destination Wedding in Europe

If you are looking for destination wedding photographers for Italy, for example, then you most likely won’t have any vendor restrictions to consider. Most venues are private villas and estates, not all-inclusive resorts. While some venues do require that you use a specific caterer, most locations have a pretty open vendor policy. La Pescaia Resort is one of my favorite venues in Tuscany, and they don’t have any outside photography or videography restrictions! 

Tuscany, Italy

US Wedding Venues with Accommodations

A destination wedding doesn’t always have to mean going international! It might just mean picking a cool place that most of your guests aren’t local too and renting out a big house for the weekend! There’s a TON of amazing destination wedding locations all throughout the US. I recently wrote a blog post all about my top 3 Texas wedding venues. They all have on-site accommodations, allowing you to have the wedding weekend experience of your dreams! Definitely check it out if you’re looking for some state-side destination wedding inspo!

Ask the Right Questions 

Once you have narrowed in on the style of photography you’re looking for and have found a few top contenders, it’s time to reach out to them! When planning a destination wedding, it is so important to get on the phone with ALL of the vendors that you are considering booking, and especially so for your photographer! Here are some main topics to make sure you cover:

What experience do they have?

Are they well-traveled themselves? Traveling can be stressful enough on its own, and is even more so with a bunch of camera equipment! So it’s important that your photographer is confident in handling all travel aspects on their own. Also, make sure to ask if they bring back-up gear. It’s not like you can run to Best Buy and buy a new memory card if you’re on an island in Greece

What is included in their wedding packages?

All photographers include different things in their destination wedding packages, so it’s important to ask what is included, and what will be an add-on. Personally, I offer different destination wedding packages depending on the type of celebration the couple is having; whether it’s an elopement just the two of them, an intimate wedding, or an entire wedding weekend! 

Travel Costs

I absolutely LOVE shooting destination weddings, but it’s also a lot of work! While it might seem like shooting a destination wedding is a vacation for the photographer, it is actually more work than a traditional wedding day. Not only are they photographing the wedding day, but oftentimes, your photographer will be working way longer hours than normal. This is due to multiple long shooting days in a row and editing sneak peek images in between, not to mention all of the preparation it takes to get there and the time actually spent traveling to your destination. With that being said, you should expect to pay a photographer’s normal rates in addition to covering their travel expenses. While it may seem like a large cost up-front, you’ll see the return on your investment from choosing your favorite photographer when you get your photos back and relive your once-in-a-lifetime celebration! 

couple kissing in Sedona Arizona
Sedona, Arizona

Ponder These 3 Important Things Before Booking

After you’ve decided on a location and have talked to a couple of different photographers, there are three more things you should ask yourself before booking one. 

Are there any red flags?

When it comes to this once-in-a-lifetime day, you don’t want to ignore any red flags. Especially when you’re planning everything from afar! You want to put together an all-star team that you can 100% trust no matter what situations may pop up. Some red flags to look out for are extremely slow or inconsistent email response times, not answering all of your questions, not being upfront about travel costs, or not being willing to send you full galleries from past weddings to view. Your destination wedding photographer should be just as excited about your wedding day as you are! 

Does their portfolio match what I’m looking for? 

When comparing different photographers, closely study their portfolios. Are their photos consistent across their website and social media pages? Do they showcase a wide variety of different lighting scenarios? When planning a destination wedding, you will probably end up hiring a photographer that has never shot at your wedding venue before. That’s totally okay! A true professional will know how to shoot in unfamiliar locations and will do the homework beforehand to make sure they are properly prepared for your wedding. 

Do I vibe with this person?

Lastly, it is key to find someone that you vibe with. You will be spending your entire wedding day with them, and then some! Most destination wedding photographers will photograph the welcome party, rehearsal dinner, and an adventure shoot in addition to the wedding day, so it’s super important that you can envision yourself having fun with them and hanging out with you and your guests! I end up leaving every destination wedding I shoot with a ton of new friends, and you can really feel that camaraderie in the images! 

The Peninsula Room – Traverse City, Michigan

You’re probably wondering if bringing a wedding photographer to your destination is worth it. In short, you’re spending so much time and money on creating the celebration of your dreams, so you want to ensure that it’s captured in an authentic and beautiful way. Your photos will be what you look back on to remember all of the feelings and fun from this special time, so they should accurately reflect all of the same emotions that you felt! You will never regret investing in the right person to capture these memories! 

My name is Cassie Howard and I’m a destination wedding photographer on a mission to capture those living life to the fullest. To inquire about your own destination wedding, contact me here!