We sat down with destination wedding photographer (and past destination wedding bride!) Andrea Dobbs and asked her a ton of questions about what she does, how things work, and we got a whole lot of tips and tricks along the way. Sit back, grab your favorite hot beverage and settle in for everything you need to know about destination wedding photography!
What’s the #1 question couples ask you?
Honestly, it is a tie between two questions…
Q1: How many hours/pictures will you photograph and how many will we get back?
A1: I take pictures the day before by the pool and before the groom’s dinner & the entire wedding day. I give back between 500-700 edited images in the gallery and the couple have all the printing rights.
Q2: How much time do we need for pictures?
A2: To figure out your timeline, we work backwards from your ceremony time.
Generally, it has been the most efficient to time things in 30 minute increments. It builds in good buffers in case a few things take longer than expected. I take pride in adjusting and making things work out on the fly. Every resort and day is different, so I try to utilize parts of the resort that are shaded during group pictures. I look for places that are beautiful but will also keep everyone semi cool and fresh for the ceremony. Again, it’s a go with the flow decision making process but I always have options ready to go and make the most of every situation.
The timeline below is where the main wedding photos start if you want all the good stuff! I usually show up or go back and forth from the girls’ room to the guys’ room and get a few getting ready candids of each.
12:30: Bride Detail shots / Getting in Dress
1:30: First Look
2:00: Bride / Bridesmaids
2:30: Groom / Groomsmen
3:00: Entire Wedding Party
4:00: Chill Cool Down
5:00: Group Picture of Everyone by Beach/Ceremony site.
5:15: Usually the best lighting by the beach also less wind. I prioritize a few more group wedding party photos and then send everyone off to enjoy the cocktail hour with the other guests.
6:00: Just the Bride and Groom. Best sunset glow and a fun time to be alone with the couple at the beach. It’s fun showing up to the cocktail hour with them and snapping candids with the newly married couple and all of the guests before the dinner.
If a bride really loves pictures and likes a strict timeline, I suggest starting all of this an hour before what’s above! So instead of chill time 30 minutes before, allow an hour of chill time. Occasionally resorts run behind and if you’re a planner and want to stay on track without being stressed, start earlier. That way if you’ll have more time before the ceremony where you can hangout, have a cocktail with your friends and be super relaxed! It’s also generally very warm so a longer cool down before you walk down the aisle is always amazing. You can touch up your hair and makeup too.
Q3: When do you fly in and depart?
A3: I fly in two days before the wedding and leave the day after. In my package I charge $2,600 + 3 nights stay. The flight is already factored into the $2,600, along with the two days of shooting and edited images. The reason I charge separately for the 3 nights stay is because each resort has different pricing. I like to fly in two days before the wedding to ensure I’m there the day before to scout out the resort, plan where to take the best photos and assess lighting. I’m taking photos from the minute I show up and until I leave to return home.
Q4: Where are the best places to take pictures?
A4: Circling back to the above question, typically during the day the beach and ocean are windy and very sunny areas. These spots are best during twilight and sunset! Carve out an hour after your ceremony to use the beach and the pictures are always stunning! During the day after getting ready I like using the shadier parts of the resort where the flowers are lush and landscaping is generally pristine. These are perfect areas to keep us cool and avoiding squinting.
Q5: Do you see any trends with destination weddings happening?
A5: Oh yes!
- Boho Aesthetic
- Lighter Blush Neutral Tones
- Hairstyles: Low fishtails brides, beachy wavy hair
- Groom/Groomsmen Linen suits
- Fun pool wear / funny suits / matching
Q6: What are your top 3 pieces of advice about choosing to have a destination wedding?
A6: First, do what you want as a couple and stand your ground. Family can get really get weird about their opinions right away and that can be sad and discouraging. Talk about your plan together first, be excited about what you really want and let comments slide if people need to express their “not so nice” opinions. Remember that this is your wedding and keep what you both love as your #1 priority when deciding things.
Next, use communication apps! Whats App is amazing. Make different chat groups for your guests in addition to one big chat group for the entire guest list. This is fun so everyone can meet up during the day either at the same pool or bar. It’s a great tool to see if anyone wants to make a dinner reservation or meet up anywhere at night if something fun is going on. Make another chat for the wedding day. I like being in chat groups with the Bride/ Bridesmaids - Grooms / Groomsmen / & entire Wedding Party / Family. This way we can communicate where to be for pictures and if anything is running behind. Make these chat groups before you fly out. It’s also a nice communication tool for anyone flying alone. You can meet people at the airport or possibly know if they are on your shuttle to the resort.
Lastly, kind of a loaded answer in general about the resort. When you’re picking a resort think about the size of the resort. Are you ok with a big resort? Do you like the idea of everyone being closer together? Do you like nightlife and entertainment. These were big factors when we chose our spot. We wanted fun entertainment and atmosphere at night and liked the idea of the resort not being super massive so we could gather together easier. Your travel agent will be a huge help with all this!
Q7: Are there things couples can do to help make the most of their time with their photographer?
A7: Talk and plan as much as you can before getting to the resort! Once you arrive at the resort you will be busy! You’ll be checking in with your wedding coordinator, finding your way around and greeting your guests for a day or two. The last thing you want to worry about is your photographer. Trust that when I arrive my first mission is to check out the resort and plan where pictures will be taking place. The day before I will have the details ready for you and a plan sent to the wedding chat groups.
Q8: Do you have a signature shot or pose?
A8: I have my go-to candid shots that I love doing with my couples and wedding party! Right away I like to be a jokester and joyful. I love keeping things exciting and try not to do any “posey” stuff right away. If you get people laughing and genuinely having fun, it’s easier to keep the morale of the group going. Spirits are usually up especially for the guys if you can incorporate some drinks, cigars, cheers and fun stuff like that. Transitioning into the more typical poses towards the end is a breeze if things start out fun and not so ordinary. If a bride has a veil I love being creative with that. A destination wedding is unlike any other. People are honestly having such a fun time it’s hard not to love every minute of it. The mood of the wedding party is typically cheery and the best kind of relaxed, at least with all of the awesome people I’ve met so far.
Q9: What is the best time of day for a ceremony?
A9: I would say an hour or hour and a half before sunset. We need good natural lighting!
Q10: Why do you love shooting destination weddings?
A10: I love traveling, the outdoors, and variety. I feel most creative in new spaces and environments. It’s the most refreshing burst of creativity walking into a resort and thinking “how can I show off this beauty”. I want to capture the candid moments from everyone engulfed in it. I love meeting new people and can call a handful of them my friends after each wedding. When the couple looks at their wedding album, I want them to instantly remember how fun it was and let the flood of emotions bring them back to one of the best vacations ever.
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