Question from a reader. Kansas, USA

My sister is having a wedding destination in either July 2013 or December 2013/January 2014 in Los Cabos, Mexico (if not, Cancun) AND she and her fiance are house hunting so they’re in a bit of a budget. She is aware that hiring a photographer for a local wedding vary from $1000-5000 depending on preference and of course, photographer but I am having a tough time trying to persuade her that it’s worth it. Her main issue is, “well, we can probably just find someone else to do it,” meaning a non-professional’ish person so she and her fiance woudln’t have to pay as much. I am aware the whole, ‘you get what you paid for’ scenario but for some reason, she’s not completely getting it. Not only that, it is a wedding destination in Mexico and we’re not quite sure how to pay for the photographer–or what’s fair. Is offering to pay for their flight and all-inclusive for four days and three nights fa ir enough? By the way,
But the main question is, do you have any further tips for me to persuade my sister (and potentially her fiance) that hiring a photographer for her wedding (and one that she loves) is worth it in the long run? Her big issue is, we’re planning a destination wedding (with 25-40 attending the wedding at their own expense) AND buying a house. We’re already (planning on) spending so much as it is do we really need to hire a wedding photographer? (sigh)

Please any word of advise for my sister and her fiancé?

Thank you,

– April




Hello April,

This is a great question, one which we get asked frequently in various forms from  many of our readers.

Here is my thought and something for you and others who have asked the same type of question, to ponder..
First off I would like to point you to a few articles on WeddingPhotography411 that address your questions. Have your sister and her fiance read these posts as well.
Everyone has different priorities when it comes to what’s important in their lives especially when it comes to weddings and how they spend their money. However most people do agree that your wedding pictures are the only thing you have left once the wedding day is over. After just a short time nobody remembers the food, the flowers are gone and the memories start to fade. Without photographs that help bring you right back to the moment, the memories will continue to disappear. I think the answer to yours and others who might feel the same way is simple. Since they just have to ask themselves this one question…… When our wedding day has passed can we live with the fact that we are underwhelmed by our wedding pictures, or even severely disappointed (we must assume worse case scenario)  Based on their answer, this should determine how they want to proceed or allocate money towards the wedding. If wedding photography is important or as I like to say a “priority” to them, then they need to invest in photography. If not, can they live with the worst case scenario should it happen, Could they move on without regrets.
We canot change the past but we can effect the future by the actions we take today as we advance forward.
“Not only that, it is a wedding destination in Mexico and we’re not quite sure how to pay for the photographer–or what’s fair. Is offering to pay for their flight and all-inclusive for four days and three nights fair enough?”   

The first link above talks more in depth about bringing your photographer along to your destination wedding and should answer your question more in depth. I personally feel the answer to the above question is no, it’s not enough to just pay their way. Yes there may be some new photographers out there who are willing to trade a vacation for photography, but is it really a vacation for them? No not really, they’ll be working hard. The motivation to shoot a destination wedding for just expenses might be for experience alone or to be able show images from a destination wedding in hopes to get more destination weddings in the future. With that said you are gambling if you bring along a friend with a camera or an inexperienced destination wedding photographer to capture one of the most important days in your life. 

Traveling to and from the wedding sometimes can be the hardest part. Remember this even if your wedding is one day only, but in Mexico, it’s a minimum of three to four days of the photographers time including travel days plus all the post processing.  (Also read about post processing The Back End.)  Can you think of anybody who is willing to work for free for four days?  Someone who is a good at their profession usually wants to get paid for their work. A good photographer will be no different. Depending on the photographers experience will determine what they charge for their time. Again, you get what you pay for, either you pay now or pay later. The best part is you have a choice, either way you do have to live with your decision once it’s made.
Pay now, means spending more than you had planed but investing in the fact that you will always have a great photographic history of the beginning of your new family and pictures of those that will someday pass on so you can share with your children. Pay later, the thought or feeling of disappointment and regret you are reminded of once a year on your wedding anniversary or when your children ask to see your wedding photos. For me personally, my parents album is a gift as it is one of the only memories I have of left to remind me of them, as both my parents died when I was a young child.
One more thing to consider is the personality of the photographer. They are part of your day and can actually make or break your wedding. Do you trust that experience to someone you don’t know and haven’t met with in person?
We all walk a different path but pictures are an important part of holding on to past emotions and people who have been in our lives. If you think about what the most treasured possessions people take in a disaster such as a flood or fire, it’s always their pictures…

I hope this helps April.

All my best,

Robert Evans
**Robert Evans and Ryan Phillips together have over 40 years of combined experience photographing weddings and have photographed some of the most well known peoples weddings throughout the world!