Planning Your Destination Wedding: Tips From Your Photographer
1. Hire a professional wedding coordinator. Planning a wedding is difficult enough, but compounded by distance and “island time”, it’s enough to ruin anyone’s good time! Having a professional on your side to deal with venue complications, caterer details and other organizational issues will make everything run smoothly. You want to be able to enjoy your day, not worry about the small - or sometimes HUGE - stuff.
2. Wear a bathing suit that matches the neckline of your wedding gown during those sunny beach days before your wedding. And pass this on the moms and bridesmaids, along with advise to guys about “raccoon eyes” from their sunglasses on the back nine or on the dive boat. Removing and blending unwanted tan lines in your wedding images can incur additional art work fees, something that can be avoided with some planning.
3. SPF 30 is a must! The Caribbean sun is very strong and can sneak up on you, especially if you don’t have a base tan. Burnt, red skin just isn’t pretty in your wedding photography. You can get as much sun as you want after your big day, but please be cautious beforehand.
4. Bug spray is mandatory - before, DURING & after your celebration. Our biting insects are vicious and they prey on fresh blood. Not to mention the bites leave ugly, red, itchy welts all over your body. They will drive you and your guests crazy, especially during sunrise and sunset hours. My cologne . . . Ode de Deep Woods Off! I know, Deet may irritate your skin, but it’s the only thing that works. Our bugs are immune to all that other sissy stuff.
5. When choosing your wedding date, be aware of our peak travel season as well as hurricane season. The most expensive time to come to the islands is December through April. Of course, that’s also the nicest time of year, with afternoon temperatures in the low-80s and evening temperatures comfortably in the 70s. Hurricane season is June 1st through November 30th, the worst months being August and September. This is also our rainy season, so rain plans can become more necessary during those months.
6. Check the time for sunset for your wedding day. The sun sets very quickly so close to the equator. If you’re planning a sunset wedding, please check what time the sunset will actually hit the water and plan at least an hour to 90 minutes before that to allow for photography afterward. Available daylight photography is much more natural and flattering than artificial flash photography, so plan your events with as much daylight as you can handle. We can always sneak off to the beach for a beautiful sunset during your reception. Sunset can be anywhere from 5:40AST in December to 7PM AST at the end of June and early July.
7. Speaking of AST . . . we’re on Atlantic Standard Time. We don’t observe Daylight Savings, so we are one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the winter months when you “fall back” but the same as EST during the spring and summer once you have “sprung forward.” This little wrinkle can cause confusion during your planning months as well as with travel from the mainland.
8. Getting your marriage license is easy, as long as you know the protocol. Proper attire is required at the courts - you must cover your shoulders and not wear flip-flops or anything that could be considered “beachwear.” And the court isn’t the easiest place to find. Your wedding coordinator will help you complete all the paperwork, get safely to and from the courthouse and generally make sure everything is legal.
9. In the end, don’t forget to have fun! That’s why you’re coming to the islands for your wedding . . . relax and enjoy yourself. If the flowers aren’t exactly what you were expecting, or the cake isn’t just like the picture you emailed the baker, or every candle isn’t lit on the guest table - don’t worry. You’ll still have an amazing destination wedding that your guests will talk about for years. And don’t forget . . . you’ll have tons of amazing photography to help remember the day! ;P
Advise from our brides:
The absolutely BEAUTIFUL bride from the images above, Samantha, gave us advice for those of you planning your destination wedding.
"My biggest advice for future couples planning their destination wedding is to remember that the wedding planners, resort, etc are all probably on 'island time', but that doesn't mean they don't know what their doing. I stressed a little when 90 days prior to the wedding, I hadn't communicated much with the coordinator. However, when it came down to the weeks before the wedding, she had everything in line (most of which she did herself without worrying me). The flowers were ordered (and exactly what I wanted), videographer arranged, DJ booked with all our song selections, food and beverages communicated to the chef and the cake design sent off to the caterer. Talk about taking stress off the bride! Day of, everything went off without a hitch with a 'no worries' feel that you should have anyways when on a tropical island."
"To us this was not a traditional destination wedding to a place we have never been before, but for many this is the case. My advice to brides in this position is to find a reputable wedding planner like Nichole Reed (Events by Nichole). This person will advocate for you, negotiate with vendors, and make everything during your stay as easy and memorable as possible! Regardless of my extensive knowledge of STX, Nichole was a lifesaver and I could not have done it without her!"