Destination weddings have such a great appeal to them, the sand, sun, and water. Paradise with close friends and family, why would anyone not want this, right? From Jamaica through the Caribbean to Mexico there are a lot of great resorts with great wedding packages that include the photographer. After talking to a couple who had a bad experience with their dream wedding, and being hired to photograph a wedding in Jamaica myself, I want to give you all of the information so you can make an informed decision.
I was talking to a friend over the summer who's sister was married Mexico. During the conversation she was telling me about what happened with the photography, and how her sister would have done things differently. It all started when they booked the resort and planned everything for the wedding, they saw many different online albums of wedding that they photographed and everything looked wonderful. Despite lots of pictures and being reassured from the resort everything was great, the couple didn't get a chance to talk to the photographer before arriving. When they explained what they wanted upon arrival everything was said to be just fine and it will all get taken care of. The wedding went off beautifully and everyone enjoyed it, they ate, danced and drank. Fast forward a few days and time to check out, they are handed a DVD of the wedding and have to run to the airport. On the trip home everyone is so excite to see the pictures the laptop is pulled out and the DVD is put in, as the pictures are loaded they start to notice that many of them are slightly out of focus. More load and they see that some are so bright you can't make out the details of her dress, some of them the grass looks more yellow then green. Once they get back and settle into everyday life she email the resort and brings up the problems, the response was not as friendly as the planning emails. Long story short they were not able to get unedited files and were basically told the albums she saw before are the best of work and everything doesn't turn out that way. Almost a year later they for a fraction of their money back and don't have any pictures they really like other than what the family took.
I was hired to photograph Derrik and Alica's wedding in Jamaica earlier this year. The couple wanted everything about their week captures and didn't want to bother friends and family to have to do this for them. So they flew me out to Jamaica for a week, accommodations at their resort and included in all the activities for the week. Since they are from Sacramento we had many meeting planning everything, they got to see many complete weddings and they knew what to expect. The week was great, we got there on Sunday night, the wedding was Wednesday and we left Saturday. Once back Derrik and Alica came over with their friends and got to see their pictures on the TV, everyone enjoyed the experience even her cousin who didn't go with them. We were able to plan their album and the whole experience was super easy for them
I understand that not everyone will have a bad experience or have problems on a destination wedding. The advantages to bringing your photographer with you can out way the additional cost that is involved. First off you get peace of mind, you get to sit and talk with them ahead of time. You can plan everything, see complete weddings and become very comfortable with your decision. Second if you get to know the photographer you will be a little more comfortable with them and that will show in the pictures. Third and one of the most important for you is, if you have a problem you are now dealing with a local company. With the couple earlier if they never got a response back and basically got a Fu** You from the resort, do you think they would have gotten on a plane and flew back to Mexico to start a legal process, or even how many times it might take to resolve this. Now worse case you just have to do this with your local county.
There are pros and cons to taking a photographer with you and that is something you have to work out for your self. My personal feeling is that a destination wedding is a wonderful time in paradise with fiends and family, let your friends enjoy the time and have someone else capture the moments. If you choose to save a little money and use the person since they are already there, what is the true cost if something goes wrong, emotional and financial.
Here is one of my favorite shots from Derrik and Alica's wedding.