Couples planning a destination wedding have two options for their photography – bringing a photographer with them or going with a local wedding photographer.

There are definitely pros and cons to both and I’m going to outline a few of them for you! I’ll start with the idea of bringing a photographer with you.  I have shot several destination weddings over the past few years and it’s a wonderful experience for the photographer as well as the couple, in my opinion.  As a non-local, working in a new environment, I found myself hyper-aware of my surroundings, viewing locations with fresh, excited eyes!  I was enthusiastic about the locations I was fortunate to be in – snapping almost nonstop and using our environment in a unique and fun way!

When you bring a photographer from your area, you have the advantage of meeting with them in person first, doing an engagement shoot with them and even having them as the photographer for a reception at home, if you throw one.  Knowing who you’re bringing with you can ease some of the stress that I have heard all of my destination couples talk about at length – the anxiety that comes with planning something so big remotely, not knowing how everything will turn out or what it will look like until you arrive in your destination location!

Of course bringing a photographer comes with a price – travel expenses. Couples should plan on paying complete travel expenses on top of the wedding photography package chosen. This would include airfare, taxis to and from airport, hotel stay and often a per diem. Expect to pay for two nights minimum stay and three to four if you plan to have them shoot a welcome party or day after session. It’s important to be upfront with your photographer, discussing the terms and travel expenses in detail – this could differ greatly from photographer to photographer.

If you’re considering going with a local wedding photographer, you will likely incur minimal to no travel expenses, which is an obvious money saver.  In addition, a local photographer could act as a tour guide or translator and also might know hidden photography gems a non-local wouldn’t.  They may also have experience working at your venue, which can help with the flow of your day.

An obvious con, however, is not meeting your photographer before the day.  I believe that one of the most important elements of selecting a wedding photographer (after loving their work, of course!) is the way you connect with them upon meeting.  Keep in mind that they play a huge role in your wedding day and you will be spending a significant amount of time with them.  If you do not have the opportunity to travel to your location during planning, I highly recommend asking them to have a Skype meeting with you.

Lastly, while your resort might have a photographer on staff, don’t be afraid to explore your options within the area.  There are many fantastic local photographers whose talent far exceeds those hired to take snapshots at a local resort.  Do your research, viewing portfolios, blogs and reading reviews for photographers outside of what your venue has offered you.

My last piece of advice – opt for a trash the dress/day after shoot! With every destination wedding I shoot, I throw one into the package because, in my opinion, they’re totally invaluable. Having an additional photo session will give you the time to explore the areas outside of your resort without the pressure and time constraints of your wedding day.  You will be able to capture stunning memories of a truly once-in-a-lifetime event!  I thought I’d share a few of my favorite day after/trash the dress shots with you.