Destination Wedding: Fly in Your Own Photographer or Hire Locally

1 of 4 Female wedding photographer on Morro Strand State Beach, Morro Bay, CASelecting a photographer is one of the most important decisions you’re going to make when planning your destination wedding.

In making that choice, you will have to decide early on whether to hire someone local or to fly in your own wedding photographer.

The answer to this question depends on where your wedding is and the quality of photographers available locally.

For some couples, a local photographer is the ideal choice based on the quality of their work and the cost. For others, a photographer from their hometown is the only way to go.

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In this article, we are going to go over some of the pros and cons of each choice so you can make a more informed decision for yourself.


Flying in a photographer can be very expensive. You will be expected to pay for the airfare, hotel, and transportation. Many will also charge you a per diem for meals and any additional expenses (such as tips) that they incur.

If your wedding is on a tight budget, then flying in a photographer is not going to be an option. In this case, you’re better off getting referrals for the best local photographer.

Photo Editing

You can count on having to edit several, if not dozens of photographs after the wedding. Having a US based photographer, especially one from your hometown will make this process easier. You can simply hop over to his/her place of business and sort out what you need edited. Compare that to calling a photographer overseas and trying to explain what you don’t like about this or that photo.

If editing your photos is a big deal for you, then consider hiring someone from your hometown. The additional cost of paying for travel and lodging will be well worth it.

Language Barriers

A local photographer may not have the greatest command of English. Being that many weddings occur outside of the US, English may not be the primary language of your local photographer.

Will you be able to explain your needs to this photographer? Will you understand what the packages include? What will be lost in translation? Do you want surprises on the day of your wedding?

Local Recommendations

A local photographer can be a good resource for photos at locations that are off the beaten path. They will know where the best sunsets are, where the least crowds are, and the best times to go to each. In addition, they will be able to recommend other vendors, saving you additional research time.

That is not to say that a photographer you’re flying in will not know the area. Many destination wedding photographers live in the US but work globally. Most specialize in certain locations and already know the lay of the land, and the most scenic backdrops for wedding photos.

Nothing To Lose

If you’re flying in a photographer from the US, they will honor every aspect of the contract with you. Why? Because you can take action against them if the contract is not honored. You can go to court, or complain to the Better Business Bureau and make them own up to their mistakes.

Hiring a photographer at the destination (especially overseas) will offer you no such protection. Between the time that you hire them, and the time they deliver photographs to you, any number of things can go wrong and there may be no repercussions for the vendor.

Knowledge And Relationships

A photographer local to the destination will likely have worked at your wedding venue and will already have established relationships with the managers and the employees. Having worked there before, they will also know the best locations for stills.

When Is the First Time You Met Your Photographer?

Hiring a photographer that you’re flying in offers a very big advantage in that you can meet with him/her multiple times before the wedding. Not only can you go all the details, you can also work on engagement photos well ahead of the actual wedding. Doing this stateside will then afford you the opportunity to use those photos in your wedding or even in your stationary.

Having met the photographer well ahead of your wedding will also provide you a friendly face on the day of your wedding.

If you hire a local destination wedding photographer, you may not have had the chance to meet with him/her prior to the wedding. Not many couples can afford to take an advance trip to the location to visit each vendor. So many brides meet the photographer for the first time on the day of their wedding and that can be a bit unnerving.

So What Is The Right Choice?

There is no right choice. What is right for one couple may not work for another. If your budget is tight and you cannot afford to pay for the transportation costs for a photographer, then a local one is the right choice.

If flexibility is more important than money, then having a photographer that you can meet anytime is going to be the best choice for you.

Regardless of whether you choose to hire a local or fly in a photographer, make sure you select someone who you can trust to take the most breathtaking photos of the event. After all, these photos will serve as a great reminder of a truly momentous event in your life.

What should you read next?

Read what questions to ask a wedding photographer for your destination wedding.

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