ALL, Wedding Planning: 101

July 26, 2018

Everything You Need to Know About Bringing Your Own Photographer to Your All-Inclusive Destination Wedding | Destination Wedding Photographers | All-Inclusive Resort Weddings

In this post, Hannah Bjorndal outlines everything you need to know about bringing your own photographer to your all-inclusive destination wedding. Hannah is a destination wedding photographer who has traveled to destination wedding locations like Cancun, Mexico, Montego Bay, Jamaica, Tamarindo, Costa Rica, La Romana, Dominican Republic, and more!

Everything You Need to Know About Bringing Your Own Photographer to Your All-Inclusive Destination Wedding | Destination Wedding Photographers

Having now been in the destination wedding business for a few years, I’ve learned about all kinds of hurdles that engaged couples face when planning a destination wedding. Particularly, I’ve learned recently about the challenges of bringing in an American photographer to an all-inclusive resort. All-inclusive resorts in Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Aruba, Saint Lucia (the list goes on) generally have strict guidelines when it comes to hiring photographers who aren’t on the resort’s staff.

But let’s be honest: most of us don’t want one of those resort photographers for wedding! Cheesy and old-fashioned, resort photographers often whack the refine style that elegant, modern and tasteful couples dream of. Yes, they are budget-friendly, and for couples who don’t prioritize beautifully & artistically refined photographs on their wedding day, this might be a good fit. But the fact that you were here reading this blog post makes me believe that you are NOT one of those couples. So let’s talk about how you can hire your dream photographer to come and shoot your destination wedding at an all-inclusive resort.

Everything You Need to Know About Bringing Your Own Photographer to Your All-Inclusive Destination Wedding | Destination Wedding Photographers

#1. Determine your resort’s photography policy (BEFORE you book your wedding there!): The first step in hiring your ideal photographer for your destination wedding is to do a little research with your all-inclusive resort’s wedding photography policy. After doing extensive research on a variety of resorts wedding photography policies, I’ve come to find a couple trends. First, all inclusive resorts do not like having outside photographers at their weddings. It makes sense. All inclusive resorts make more money from weddings that book all vendors through them. A photographer, even on staff at a resort, is going to make a lot of money for that resort. So, resorts like to make it difficult (in various ways) for couples bring their own photographer. Determine what your ideal all-inclusive resorts policy is first, before you book your wedding there. If you don’t like the policy, keep looking at resorts. If the policy has some wiggle room, then it might be a winner! If you’ve already booked your destination wedding at an all-inclusive resort, don’t fret. There is still a good chance that you can bring your own photographer to your wedding. Keep reading!

PS: I know A LOT about all-inclusive wedding resorts, and am working on another post about several resorts’ policies. Check back soon to read more, or shoot me an email if you have questions at!

#2. Understand the cost & details: In any situation with destination wedding photography, the pricing is going to be different in a lot of ways than a wedding at home. But this does not necessarily mean that you’re going to have to pay tons more for your dream photographer than you would if you were getting married locally! However, understanding what it is going to cost and why to have your favorite wedding photographer come along to your destination wedding is super important!

Every wedding photographer has a different policy when it comes to travel for weddings. For many photographers, travel unfortunately isn’t even an option – they only shoot locally. But for many other photographers, the chance to shoot a wedding in a beautiful, exotic location is a dream! Some photographers will charge full price for their wedding photography package and all additional travel costs. You can image that those travel costs will potentially double (or more!) the cost of the wedding package. As a wedding photographer, I found the BEST way to work with couples for their destination wedding is pretty simple: call it a free vacation and charge couples JUST for the price of travel!

What does this mean? It means that my destination wedding couples don’t pay a dime for the actual wedding photography package – we simply add up the cost of travel, and that’s the total! This usually means that couples planning a destination wedding pay less for their photography than many of my local Washington, D.C. couples. Am I crazy? Maybe. But I love doing it this way! Is this a shameless plug to hire me as your destination wedding photographer? Absolutely! (Want to learn more? Click here!)

Another detail you need to understand about your wedding photographer is what their expectations are from you. Do they expect you to book them a flight and a room at the resort? Or will they take care of these details for themselves? This is super important because it can be SUCH a hassle to make these plans for your vendors! Again, I have found that the BEST way to serve my couples is to take care of all the details for them. I book my stay at the resort where they will be getting married and make all travel arrangements myself. Before a couple even books me, I have calculated the cost and sent them a custom quote so they know exactly what to expect!

Lastly, and potentially MOST important detail to learn about your potential destination wedding photographer is: does she know what she’s doing? It might sound simple and silly, but many photographers are simply not knowledgeable about shooting destination weddings. They’ve never done it before, and they have no idea of any of the potential problems or risks associated with it. The LAST thing you want on your wedding day is to be worrying about your wedding photographer following through, but this can easily happen when you choose a photog that is not a pro at the travel side of things! Ask good questions, and make sure your photographer knows what she’s doing!

As you narrow down your options, you probably have a couple different photographers you really love. It can be hard to decide who to go with. Asking these questions will help you narrow down who fits your needs best!

Everything You Need to Know About Bringing Your Own Photographer to Your All-Inclusive Destination Wedding | Destination Wedding Photographers

#3. Keep the resort informed. If you’ve started the planning process, you already know that there can sometimes be confusion around the details of a destination wedding. Planning something in a foreign country requires overcoming cultural and language differences, and occasionally, things are lost in translation. As you plan and book a photographer, be sure to keep your wedding coordinator informed of your decision. Be sure he or she knows your photographer’s name, where she’s staying, and contact info. When you’re photographer begins shooting on the wedding day, there will be no surprises!

So, do you want to bring your own photographer to your destination wedding? Do you have that dream photographer in mind? Now you have the tools to make it happen!


Interested in having me as your destination wedding photographer? Get in touch here!

  1. Kim Leary

    July 26th, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    Such a helpful post! 🙂  My husband and I hired Hannah as our wedding photographer for our intimate destination wedding in Jamaica last month and it ended up being one of the BEST decisions we made throughout the planning process. Long before the wedding, I had my heart set on having a photographer who would be able to capture the day with more artistry, beauty, and elegance than the resort photographers could offer, but I was worried about being able to make that happen financially and logistically.  I came across Hannah on Instagram and I fell in love with her style and her eye for detail and light.  We didn’t actually get a chance to meet in person until the day of the wedding since we lived a ways apart, but Hannah was fabulous to work with throughout the process!!  Not only was hiring Hannah well worth the money spent (I know we will treasure those absolutely gorgeous photos forever!), but Hannah made the process (both leading up to the wedding and the day of the wedding) SO easy.  For any bride or groom who might be feeling torn, bringing your own photographer to your all-inclusive resort destination wedding is well worth the investment! 

    Thanks again, Hannah!! 🙂

  2. Hannah Bjorndal

    July 31st, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    Thank you so much, Kim!!! Your wedding day was SO much fun and I was so happy that we worked everything out with your resort!!!! 🙂 I’m so grateful that you chose me as your wedding photographer!!!! 🙂

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