Key West Photographer - Karrie Porter | The Essential Destination Wedding Photo Must-Haves

The Essential Destination Wedding Photo Must-Haves

April 12, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Traditional weddings tend to call for more traditional photos, modern weddings have more contemporary photos, and casual weddings have more laid-back, less formal photos.  But what if you're getting married in a destination like the Florida Keys, Key West, the Bahamas, or some other island getaway? 

Just because it's remote doesn't mean you're roughing it, and just because there won't be 300 people doesn't mean it's a low-key event.  A mixture of relaxed attitude, a flair for the unique, and keeping only the closest friends and family as part of the celebration calls for a unique set of images. 

So toss out that mainstream photo list you were given.  Here are the images every destination wedding should have.

1) Bold, Colorful Backgrounds

If your house is a normally neutral palette of tans and taupe's, the fastest way to spice up a room is with a splash of color.  If that color just so happens to be the wild mural your photographer found with pops of yellow and red, or a brazenly blue and turquoise building in the middle of a historic part of town, even better!  Plan to get out and explore a little, and come back from your trip slightly more psychedelic than you expected. 

Bahama village blue and green building with wedding coupleBahama Village bride and groomBride and groom pause in front of this brightly colored building in the historic district of Key West known as "Bahama Village"

Smooches in front of the Key West postcard muralKissing in Key WestColorful mural near the Key West Bight gives reason for a smooch.


2) Relish in the Resort

You probably looked at two dozen websites, spoke to multiple people, and considered many factors before booking the perfect place to stay.  Sure, photos in your hometown hotel on the mainland probably wasn't something any website ever recommended, but for a destination wedding, the accommodations are part of the entire experience.  Even if you're not getting married there, having photos around the beautiful property you're staying at is one way to add value to that likely-premium per-night rate you've booked.  
Diamond skylight above bride posing by angular railing.Diamond [Not] In the RoughResort builders go to great lengths to attend to unique details and interesting angles. Let your photographer stop you on the walk down to the ceremony to incorporate some of this well-placed architecture. Family on split levels at Ocean Key ResortSplit Level LayoutDon't be afraid to split up the group for a minute, and use your resort's separate levels to create a fun shot with everyone in attendance. Bride and groom pose by pillar in Hyatt Key West ResortLet the Light Shine DownWhere there is a pillar covered in teeny tiles and recessed lighting to make it shimmer, there's an opportunity to get some dramatic overhead lighting before stepping out into the sun.










3) Sand Between Your Toes

If you love the idea of getting married near the ocean, but are worried about your guests watching the ceremony through sunglasses or straining to hear your vows over the cawing seagulls, don't fret.  You can always have the ceremony elsewhere, then stop off at the beach for photos.  Get there early when the sand has been freshly graded by the maintenance crews, or hold off until sunset when the pretty evening lighting makes for sunkissed accents in your hair and dress.   

Couple walks through sand leaving footprints on Smathers BeachTake a WalkMost beach communities take the time to grade (rake) the sand first thing in the morning. If you're an early riser, you get to lay the first set of footprints in the sand for the day. Couple walking toward camera on Casa Marina beachCome On Honey!When you've got a wedding ceremony to get to, you may only have 5 or 10 minutes, so hurry down the beach, and have fun while you're at it.








4) Get Your Groom Going

Is your man usually pretty mild-mannered, especially where photos are concerned?  You'd be surprised how much he'll open up when he's in a beautiful location with his best friend.  So don't be surprised when he takes a flying leap off a bench, or busts out with the air guitar in the middle of the day.   

Groom plays air guitar while bride looks on laughingShred It In SilenceIf your groom has a knack for music, the sounds of the live island tunes floating in from every direction may just inspire him to strike a chord on his own. Groom riding bike down path on wedding dayHuffy = HappyGive this boy a bike and there's no way he won't beam, especially riding past his pals through a path shaded by palm trees. Groom being goofy jumping off a bench in Key WestJump for JoySure, the pictures of the entire bridal party jumping in a row are a lot of fun, but if the mood strikes your future hubby to take a leap off a yellow street bench, tell him to go for it.








5) Embrace the Unusual

Whether it's a funky stump painted by a local artist to resemble a sea creature, or a boat converted into a car to float your bridal party to your ceremony, being in a new location means doing things you would probably not normally do anywhere else.  

Colorful stump painted like an octopus in Key West.Octopus Stump? Why not!Being in a new place involves embracing the new and the unusual. So when you come across a funky octopus stump painted by a prominent local artist, embrace all eight tentacles. Groomsmen ride in pink floating cadillac Nautilimo.Yup...That's a Floating LimoIf there is one day in your life you can roll up in a pink floating Cadillac, your island-based wedding is it! The "Nautilimo", based in Islamorada, Florida, brings the bridal party right to the dock.


6) Remove the Rings

Gone are the days when the newlyweds hold hands over the bouquet to show off their shiny finger trinkets.  Wiggle off your ring and let the photographer create a sparkling scene with them.   

Macro image of wedding ring diamond with blurry fire in backgroundLet it GlowYou wouldn't know it at first glance, but that orange in the background is the faint flickering of a bonfire. Rings in champagne glassRaise A GlassIf your rings come back a little damp, don't worry. They were just getting their bubbly on like the rest of the guests. Wedding rings showing groom's fingerprint inside and sparkle background.Shimmer Me TimbersAn island affair doesn't mean everything has to be pirate ships and tiki torches. A sparkly purse makes the perfect backdrop for this stunning set. Wedding rings in beach with impressions left in the sandMake An ImpressionYour wedding day will leave a lasting impression on everyone who attends and is involved in making it a reality. Signify this by letting your rings leave a mark - in the sand - as well.


7) Bridal Party Antics

You'll be with them the entire day, but unless your bridal party are all members of a local theatre troupe accustomed to synchronized displays of expressive behavior, images like these aren't going to just magically materialize.  But getting the group of 10 or 12 exuberant friends away from the party for a few minutes doesn't mean the fun has to end.  Plan for some time to spend just with them, and your photographer can set up scenarios that look good and non-contrived.    

Bridal party in seafoam green dresses chat on the beachChat It UpThe best moments happen when you're not aware of the camera, so check each other out and talk about the day to come.

Guys coming out of Sloppy Joe's in Key WestA Stop At Sloppy'sNo need to rush to the altar. We've got all day, so plan for a little stop off at one of the iconic local saloons with the guys - like this group at Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West - for a quick bit of revelry. Bridesmaids link arms and walk along Rest Beach near White Street Pier.Walk With MeYou chose these girls because they're the most important people in your life. Stay close, share laughs, and strut your stuff.   It's time for the reception!  Run!Run for the Reception!Something as silly as a run down the beach can really loosen everyone up and make them realize that they won't be forced to stand with stiff poses and forced smiles.   Bridal party forms horseshoe shape toward camera.Form a HorseshoeLow angles and a little sassy expression means the blue sky and those sweet suits get all the attention they deserve. Just curve toward the camera so no one gets left out.


















8) Don't Forget The Details

Pictures of details aren't a new thing, but when your tiny items have traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to make it to your wedding in the Florida Keys or wherever else your wishes have taken you, they tend to feel even more special.  So, whether you're making a subtle case for marriage equality with some nicely printed wedding programs, showing off a hot new pair of shoes, or highlighting the "sheer" brilliance of your dress selection, detail shots add context to the entire day.

Sunlight backlit sheer dressLight Through LaceAnything sheer should be enshrined in light to give it a beautiful glow from within. Bright shoes hanging from white balcony railing.Fuchsia ShoesBold shoe colors were meant to be seen. Clever images of bright pumps dangling from gingerbread railings (yes, they're really called that) are a fun scene-setter for the entire set of "getting ready" photos. LGBT wedding card depicts subtle meaning of togethernessCards For HumanityThose subtle little touches distributed in print give meaning and extra context to the day. Just because they aren't tabletop show stoppers doesn't mean they don't have a quiet power that should be ignored.

















9) Let the Veil Prevail

Lots of destination brides share that they are torn over whether or not they want to wear a veil.  After all, the laid-back atmosphere of a Key West wedding, for example, might make the veil seem a bit too formal.  I'm here to tell you that once you see the wonderful things that train of tulle can do when the ocean breeze gets involved, you might just change your mind! 

Bride's veil blowing in the wind.Tighten Your Clip!A long, luxurious veil is such a fun way to frame a shot; just make sure whatever you've got to hold it in your hair is very secure, as those Atlantic breezes can be a bit gusty at times! Bride stands on rocks by oceanOn The RocksA little elevation onto the coral rocks gives just enough lift for the Gulf breezes to catch the veil and show it off.


10) Sea Walls and Sunsets

This one might be a given, but since sunset can sneak up on you during the afternoon festivities, it's a good idea to plan around it so that it is an integral part of your wedding day schedule.  You'll have about a 15 minute window during which the light is perfect and the skies come ablaze with the dramatic pink and orange hues you saw in the travel mags.   

Bride swishes dress on top of Fort Zachary TaylorSunset SwishYou could just stand there, or you can grab the dress and swish it around. Married couple pose during sunsetWarm Skies, Cool ColorsThere is a period of time about 10 minutes before the sun hits the horizon and about 10 minutes after that the skies take on stunning hues of pink and orange, offset by a small bit of remaining blue.





So with these top ten image types, hopefully his helps in your destination wedding planning decisions.  Whether you're headed to the Florida Keys, Key West, or another island chain, you'll be well equipped to incorporate photography that makes the best use of the unique locale.  

In the meantime, share your thoughts, and your own photo ideas, in the comments!

bridal magazine2015 Florida Keys Bridal Magazine


2015 Florida Keys
Wedding Magazine!

  Karrie Porter is a
destination wedding
photographer based
in Key West, Florida.  










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