What You Need to Know About Hiring a Destination Wedding Photographer

Finding your venue and selecting a wedding photographer are the first two things you should do after you get engaged. They’re the wedding vendors that book the fastest and farthest in advance. Though many brides select their venue before their photographer, there are brides that choose their date based on their wedding photographer. Why? Because your wedding photographer is the person you’re trusting to capture your wedding day and you want to absolutely love your photos.

Doing a destination wedding adds a layer of logistics to your wedding planning process. A wedding planner can help you coordinate the logistics, but you want to make sure your wedding vendors are prepared as well. Your wedding photographer is an important part of your day and you want things go as smoothly as possible.

10 things you need to know about hiring and working with a destination wedding photographer

Tips for Hiring a Destination Wedding Photographer

I’m thrilled to have Grace from Right Start Photography on the blog. She and her husband, Matt, are destination wedding photographers that travel the world capturing authentic moments for adventurous couples. As an experienced destination wedding photographer, she’s familiar with how to shoot a wedding no matter where her couple’s tie the knot. Today, she’s dishing up 10 things every bride should know about hiring a photographer for their destination wedding.

Right Start Photography - Matt and Grace

01. Have them arrive early!

This is something many photographers overlook when preparing for a destination wedding. Have your photographer arrive early to acclimate to the climate. Places like Mexico and the Caribbean are popular for destination weddings. The air is hot and humid which can make shooting challenging. This also applies to cold destinations like Iceland. You want to make sure your destination wedding photographer is used to having cold fingers and toes while shooting.

Brides Tip: Ask your destination photographer to spend some time exploring the area to find those hidden, picture perfect spots. That way don’t have to waste time on your wedding day looking for them.

10 expert tips about destination wedding photography from an expert

02. Make sure they account for potential travel delays.

Things happen when you travel, whether it’s delayed flights, flat tires, or incorrect hotel reservations. If the photographer hasn’t allowed for extra time it can affect the schedule and their ability to work. For a Saturday wedding, I recommend having your photographer arrive the Thursday before. Or if they’re traveling more than four hours to your wedding destination, I would have them arrive on Wednesday before.

Before you hire a destination wedding photographer, check out these 10 expert tips.

03. Let them jump right in!

Oftentimes, when we shoot destination weddings, we’re meeting the couple for the first time. We love to do either the rehearsal dinner or a portrait session before the wedding. This helps us can get to know the couple, their family, and their guests – usually it’s small intimate group. Shooting the rehearsal dinner is special to us because we get to know the most important people in the couples’ lives. That makes our job much more rewarding!

Thinking about hiring a destination wedding photographer? Here's what you should know.

04. Their fee will include travel expenses.

One thing couples forget to account for in their wedding photography budget is travel fees. A destination wedding requires extra arrangements and transportation that the client is responsible for. These travel fees are in addition to the photographer’s normal fee. They can include things like:

  • Airfare

  • Extra baggage fees

  • Ground transportation

  • Lodging

  • Meals

  • Resort fees

  • Working permits

Brides Tip: When you’re determining your budget for your wedding photographer, make sure you add additional money to cover the travel fees.

From planning to fees, here are the 10 things a bride should know about destination wedding photographers.

05. Make sure they won’t be checking their camera equipment.

The luggage compartment on a place is not a safe place for a destination wedding photographer’s equipment. Things could get lost, stolen, or broken and finding replacement equipment at your destination isn’t guaranteed. After doing a fair share of destination weddings, I know things happen beyond the photographers control. But hopefully, they’ll be prepared with an extra outfit and enough equipment that they can manage if something happens.

Working with a destination wedding photographer is different. Find out the 10 things you need to know.

06. Encourage them to get TSA Pre Check.

TSA Pre-Check is definitely something I recommend all my couples (and their guests) get if they don’t have it. With Pre-Check, you don’t have to take anything out of your bags when you go through security. Plus, you can keep your shoes and jackets on. It gives me the peace of mind to know I’ll fly through security in case I’m running late! If you’re doing an international destination wedding, consider getting Global Entry. It expedites the process of you getting through security and customs.

Here are 10 expert tips to make your wedding day go smoothly with your destination wedding photographer.

07. Use packing cubes.

This isn’t exactly photographer related, but I don’t go anywhere without them! I’m not the most organized packer. Having everything organized, sorted, and in a cube helps me to make sure I’m not forgetting anything.

Hiring a destination wedding photographer? Here are the 10 things you need to know.

08. Let your photographer book their own travel.

This might be my most important tip, as I’m speaking from personal experience. Our first destination wedding we shot, Matt ended up sharing a bed with the groom the night before the wedding! Creating an awkward situation like that for your wedding vendors isn’t a good thing. Your destination wedding photographer is one of the people you spend the most time with. You don’t want there to be anything that affects how you interact with each other.

Check out this post about the 10 tips brides need to know about a destination wedding photographer.

09. Make a checklist for everything you need.

Check, recheck, and recheck again! There are lots of things happening in the days leading up to your wedding. It’s easy to leave those little things at home by accident. Double check you have things like your earrings, the belt for your dress, your wedding bands, and your wedding invitation suite. You want to make sure you have all those things for the photographer to photograph!

10. Ask them if they have a valid passport.

This applies to the bride and groom as well. Many countries require you to have six months of validity on your passport to enter the country! Unfortunately, this is something that’s often overlooked. I’ve heard tons of horror stories about destination wedding photographers not being able to board and having to get expedited passports. Make sure you check the requirements for entry with the country you’re visiting.

Here's what you should know about hiring a photographer for your destination wedding.

Hiring a Destination Wedding Photographer

Thank you, Grace for sharing your tips about hiring a photographer for your destination wedding. Working with a destination wedding photographer is different then if you’re having your wedding locally. Preparing and understanding the logistics both you and your photographer have to figure out will ensure your day goes smoothly.

What You Should Know About Hiring a Destination Wedding Photographer - 10 Tips

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10 Tips - What You Should Know About Hiring a Destination Wedding Photographer
What You Should Know About Hiring a Destination Wedding Photographer

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Hello, I’m Jenna!


Welcome to the JTE blog, where I share my favorite weddings and insider tips to make your wedding day simply swoon-worthy. Grab a cup of coffee (cream and sugar for me, please) and enjoy a virtual peek into my color-coded planning binder.

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