Should I do a destination wedding?

When you start planning your wedding, the choices you have to make can be overwhelming. Should you get married in your hometown or a fancy vacation location? Maybe you always secretly dreamed about having a wedding ceremony on the beach. Or in a beautiful forest that just doesn’t exist close to where you live? A destination wedding can be anything from a resort in another country to a just a lake that is a couple hours away.

We have covered weddings all over the world, in Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and in a lot of states in the US like New York, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Last season one of my two favorite weddings were at Lake Placid and the one below in the Hudson Valley. While it is of course fun for us to cover your wedding at a more exotic location here are some pros and cons about wether you should opt for a destination wedding.

Wedding Photography below at Meadow Ridge Farm in Hudson, NY

The best part about traveling somewhere for you wedding is that anyone who follows you there, really cares for you. For example in Mexico there were about 40 people who all spend a short vacation with the couple. That means they had the chance to see their most important people in life for multiple days instead of just a couple of hours. That aspect is the best part about having a destination wedding besides having incredible sceneries that you didn't have in your backyard.

So why even bother getting married where you live? First of all it makes things a lot easier. No packing your bags worrying about the weight because you don’t need to bring them on a plane. You can also talk to most of your vendors in person which will make it easier to work together on the big day. And choosing your hometown for your wedding also means you can proudly present it to out of town guests. Nothing better than giving them new, fantastic memories about Buffalo, NY to make them appreciate this amazing area in the future.

So, of course I can’t really answer the questions for you, I just wanted to share my experience with you. The wedding in the Hudson Valley you can see below, is the perfect in between. The couple lived in NYC at the time, so the drive to Hudson, NY wasn't too long. It still feels completely different and more relaxed than any wedding in New York City could have been. So maybe that is the answer to the question, just pick a destination that is close enough that not all your guests need to fly there.

Should I do a first look on my wedding day? YES!

What a first look is

Usually the couple sees each other the first time (on the wedding day) at the ceremony. Wedding photographers usually prefer to move this moment before the ceremony. They set up one of you at a beautiful spot and in good lighting. Typically the other one walks up from behind and taps you on the shoulder. The goal is to capture the emotional reaction and to create a very unique moment.

Why you absolutely should do a 1st look

Short answer: To have more time with your guests. Ask anyone about the one thing they struggled with on their own wedding day. Usually the answer will be that they couldn’t talk to everyone enough. There are so many very important people, some of them you can't even see that often and you want to maximize the time you spend with them.

Long answer: You will have more and better photos of the two of you. The first look allows you to move the couple shoot before the ceremony. Not only will it feel more relaxed and you could go to more locations. The rule is simple: The longer I have to create photos with the two of you, the better they will be. Yes, we could do beautiful photos within ten minutes. But there won’t be a lot of variation and we might not even go to different spots. If you are planning to do your couple photos within cocktail hour, please note that you will never have a full hour to shoot. You might spend 15-20 minutes to do group photos. Then you might need to get in line for the introductions a little before as well. That means, you might only spend 15 minutes with your photographer.

When I am okay with NOT doing the first look

Every rule has an exception. In this case, it is pretty simple. If the structure of your wedding day has a gap between the ceremony and the reception of about two hours or more, you have enough time to do the couple shoot in between. Also, if one of you doesn’t like the idea of the first look or always wanted to wait for that moment until the ceremony, we will definitely find a way to work around that! For example splitting the couple shoot between within cocktail hour and around sunset.

Bonus Tipp

You could even do most of the group photos beforehand as well. Definitely try to get the wedding party together to do some with them, just a couple of group variations and then individually you with each member of the wedding party. Family photos could be done as well, but you know best if your family will actually show up early enough to do that. I personally think it is easier to do family photos right after the ceremony most of the time.

Just take a look at this crazy beautiful first look in a field below. Maybe that convinces you more than all my words.

Wedding Venue: The Gallagher Barn

Makeup: Tricia Murphy

DJ: Moving Music

Frozen Yoghurt Truck: The Yoghurt Shack