Guide to Hiring a Destination Wedding Photographer and Videographer at an All-Inclusive Resort

Hiring Guide for Destination Wedding Photographer

There are a ton of things to consider when you’re planning a destination wedding to an all-inclusive resort and the wedding photography and videography element is one of the most important choices you’ll need to make.

Shannon Staggs Hotel Xcaret

Pixan Photography (Local Photographer – Playa del Carmen, MX) – Hotel Xcaret Las Cuevitas

Your wedding day will be amazing and filled with beautiful moments and precious memories, but the most lasting element (besides your love, of course) will be your wedding photos. Because there are so many options this can be a really tough decision. It can also be somewhat confusing since every resort has its own rules and policies regarding in house and outside vendors.

All-inclusive resorts in Mexico typically have their own in house photographers they recommend and/or require that you use for your destination wedding photography. Some all-inclusive resorts even include some small photography element in their basic or premium wedding packages.

If they do include photography services in the wedding package, it may include something as little as 1 hour of wedding photography and maybe up to 10 images but will give you the option to add more coverage and additional images. Some destination wedding packages may even include a small video of your ceremony.

The resorts want you to use their in-house photographer. They have more control over this vendor, already have contracts in place directly with that company, and earn a portion of what the photographer charges you. It’s in the best interest of the hotel if you choose their in-house photographer(s).


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Here are some pros to using your resort’s in house photographer(s) and videographer(s).

  1. You don’t have to worry about finding and vetting a destination wedding photography and videography team. They’ve already done the work for you.
  2. They know the ins and outs of the venue and all the great photo spots.
  3. They know the resort wedding staff so they can easily communicate their (and your) photography and videography wants and needs.
  4. They may have special permission from the resort to use their drone. Some resorts will only allow the in house photography and videography team to use a drone at their property or they may have a longer process for granting approval to an outside vendor.
  5. No outside vendor fee is charged when you book the resort’s in-house photography and videography team.


There are also some cons to choosing the resort’s in house photography and videography teams.

  1. The in-house photography and videography team may not match the style of photography and/or videography that you prefer.
  2. Their prices can be a bit steep. Oftentimes, the in-house photography and videography pricing are quite a bit more than hiring a local photographer to your destination or bringing one from the US with you.
  3. They may not be as easily accessible to you. Often, when you choose an in house photography and/or videography team you will communicate with them through the resort staff, so response times may be delayed and it may be a little harder to establish a rapport with them through this method of communication.


Hiring an outside Photographer and Videographer:

So, what happens when you don’t want to hire the resort’s in-house photography and videography team for your destination wedding?

In almost all cases, you do have some options! Most resorts will allow you to hire this vendor outside the resort but there are things you’ll want to consider.


Bringing a photographer and videographer with you from the US.

Some couples have a team they love at home and may already feel comfortable with them. They may have even shot their engagement session, so there’s a great relationship that has already been established. Some couples simply feel more at ease contracting a US vendor that they can easily access at home after the wedding.

If you choose this route most properties will not charge an outside vendor fee so long as your photographer and videographer stay at the resort in your wedding room block for at least 3 nights.

However, some resorts will still charge you an outside vendor fee. We normally see this range anywhere from $500 – $1,000. If you’re planning on bringing an outside photographer and/or videographer with you to your destination wedding it’s best to ask the resort about their policy on this upfront, before you sign your wedding contract. Once you’ve signed the wedding contract your choices are limited to what you’ve contractually agreed to.


Ashley Palmer Bridal Party - Jotel Xcaret

Volimte Studio (U.S. Based) – Hotel Xcaret Wedding


Can a friend or family member take our pictures?

One important thing to note on this, that is often a surprise to wedding couples – if you have a family member or friend that is a “photographer” and you’re planning on having that person take your wedding photos, most resorts will still consider this person an outside vendor and will likely charge you the outside vendor fee or have room night requirements for this person. Basically, if you are having anyone else, that is not the in-house vendor take your wedding photos with a professional quality camera or equipment, they are typically considered an outside vendor.


Problem with bringing a U.S. based Photographer or Videographer.

Bringing a photographer from the US has one big disadvantage that you should take into consideration. A US photographer will not likely be able to legally work in Mexico and photographing your wedding is work. Due to this, it’s important that you choose a photographer that is familiar with, and maybe even specializes in, destination weddings to Mexico.

They will be more likely to have the necessary paperwork or knowledge of what is needed to do their work in Mexico. They will also need to be aware of what types of equipment they can carry without raising alarms at the airport when they enter the country. Traveling with specialized photography equipment, especially drones, can cause delays and issues that you may not have considered and your destination wedding photographer and videographer need to be prepared for potential situations that may arise if they are denied entry or if their equipment is confiscated upon entry to Mexico.

Before contracting a US wedding photography and videography team you should ask about these specific scenarios and how the team would handle these if they occur.


Hiring a “local to the destination” wedding photographer/videographer.

This is a vendor that lives in the area where you’re having your destination wedding but is not listed as an in-house vendor with your resort.

Most resorts will allow you to use a local photographer and/or videographer but will charge an outside vendor fee. This fee normally ranges from $500 – $1,000 and covers photographer and videographer access to the resort for only your wedding.

One thing that is often a surprise to our couples is that a meal is not normally included for an outside photography and videography team, which means you may also need to pay for a vendor meal for these folks. Also, this vendor fee is normally charged “per vendor”, which means that if you hire one photography company and one videography company you will be paying 2 outside vendor fees. A great way to avoid this is to choose a company that combines both photography and videography in one company, so you’ll pay only one outside vendor fee.


Ellen and Phil - The Grand at Moon Palace

Pixan Photography (Local Photographer – Playa del Carmen, MX) – The Grand at Moon Palace


Advantages to hiring an outside Photographer and Videographer:

A few great advantages of choosing an outside photography and videography team (either traveling with you or found locally) is that you have a bit more control over your images, you normally receive a larger quantity of images, and there is normally a faster turn around time for receiving your wedding photos.

Going with an outside photographer from the US or the local area gives you more freedom to choose a team that more closely aligns with your personal style and allows you to find a team that you personally connect with. There’s an opportunity for making more of a personal connection since you’ll contact them directly and have a direct line of communication with them throughout the planning process. It can sometimes make couples uneasy to simply be assigned an in house photographer and only speak with them and meet with them once you arrive at the resort.

An in-house photographer will typically give you a limited amount of photos, whereas an outside vendor of your choosing will often give you almost all the photos they’ve taken of your event, sometimes several hundred images. They also often tend to have at least some sneak peek images available within a few days of your wedding and will likely have your wedding photos back to you faster than the in house photography and videography teams.

Who takes your destination wedding photos is a very personal decision and one you should take some time considering. This person will be with you and your spouse during one of the most significant days of your lives. They may be a part of moments that even your closest friends and family won’t see, so it’s important to feel very comfortable with this team.

We’ve given you some great information on choosing between an in-house vendor or outside vendor for your destination wedding photography. We hope this has helped you better understand the options available to you.


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