5 mistakes to avoid when hiring your destination wedding photographer

5 mistakes to avoid when hiring your destination wedding photographer

March 23, 2023

I’m Dana.
I take destination wedding photography seriously. If I’m going to book a flight and travel across the ocean for you, I should probably show you that I know what I’m talking about.

If you are looking to plan a destination wedding in 2023 and 2024, here are 5 mistakes to avoid when hiring your destination wedding photographer.

Destinations with Dana

Hey, there! My name is Dana and I am a destination wedding photographer based out of Japan. I am so excited you are here because blogging is something I love to do. It allows me to educate brides, share my work, and tell the stories of my couples. Plus sharing weddings and tips helps brides who are planning their destination wedding.

When I am not photographing weddings, I am enjoying life in Japan with my husband Steven and our dog, Karma. We love trying new places to eat, playing gotcha games at the arcade (I have so many plushies), and watching our anime!

5 mistakes to avoid when hiring your destination wedding photographer

This post is about the 5 mistakes you should avoid when you are looking for your destination wedding photographer. Avoiding these will only allow the process of planning to me more enjoying. Plus, this will help you hire the right photographer for you and your wedding!

Hiring a photographer for their work and not their personality

I know that there are a lot of factors when it comes to choosing your wedding photographer. One of the main important ones is to avoid hiring a photographer you don’t get along with. I know it sounds obvious, but some couples to hire a photographer because they really love their photos. Then are surprised with their personality along the process.

So, when searching, try to find someone who not only takes amazing photos but also is someone you get along with so well.

Forgetting to ask for specific photos

Every photographer has their own style when it comes to a set list of photos to take. There are routine shots like the bride getting zipped up, the first kiss, and first dance. However, there are also shots that the bride may want and will only assume it’s common sense. Not every photographer will know what you want to get, so avoid not sharing a shot list.

The week of the wedding, finalize the shot list with your photographer. Make sure personable shots are on there that you want. This could be you with a certain guest, the memorial from a family member, a shot of all the cocktails in a line, etc. This way, having an exact list will ensure a timeline that the photographer will get the shot.


Let’s be honest, when you go to Target or Ikea, do you bargain with the staff when you check out? Or when you go to LV to get a new bag, do you ask for $500 off just because? No, you don’t. When you go to retail stores, unless there is a sale, you do not ask for discounts. So, do not make the mistake and ask your photographer for a cheaper rate. If they are out of your budget, it’s best you move on and find someone within your price range.

Waiting for the last minute to book them

Many brides who are having 2024 weddings are starting to reach out now. This is great because this allows you time to connect with your photographer and plan out the best photo list and timeline. However, do not make the mistake in finding the right photographer and then waiting months to book them.

Respectfully you feel you have time. However, these days, photographers can be booked up quickly. Sometimes 18 months in advance. And, if I am being honest, we do not wait around. We love you and want to serve you. But, if you leave us dragging for a long time with no contract signed, and someone else reaches out that week, we will book who signs first. It’s nothing personal, just business. To many times we are told we will be booked but then they change their mind. So, we want to avoid this for the sake of our business and mental health.

Relying on a friend with a nice camera

Listen, I have been that person. I myself was hired as a friend. However, weddings are my specialty. I have insurance and years of experience. If your friend with a nice camera who has never done this and photographed the family dog once, please reconsider this offer. Not only is it because they are not prepared, but imagine if you get into a fight with this friend. Or, what if they get sick the day of the wedding? Because they are a friend, they probably don’t know a professional photographer to take their place. Then you are left stranded trying to find someone. So, please avoid the uncle or the friend with the nice camera, and let us capture your day professionally and deliver beautiful images you deserve.

BONUS: Asking for a free package in return for exposure.

Please, do not do this. This is more so a request from influencers who want to get free stuff for exposure. The thing is, this does not pay the bills. Owning this business as a wedding photographer is costly. Especially for destinations. To add in coverage for this day, our time, etc. It’s not worth a few followers who might hire us in the future. Plus, if we did it for one person, then others would expect it as well.

There is also the chance that others will not take us seriously because we are desperate enough to get follows/traction, we do this for free. In general, it degrades our value and our business as a wedding photographer.

5 mistakes to avoid when hiring your destination wedding photographer

Thank you for reading this blog about things to avoid when you hire your wedding photographer for your destination wedding. We want you to have the best experience just like you want that for us. So, it’s important to keep these factors in mind when searching! To get more tips and resources about your destination wedding, check out Destination I do!

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Follow along on my journey as a international wedding photographer, traveler, and military wife