Our Picks: Top Destinations for Elopement and Destination Weddings

People often ask me what’s the coolest wedding I’ve photographed, that questions is really hard to answer because it depends on what you mean by “cool”. The couple’s personality can really change the whole experience of a wedding-really outgoing couples who like to party will be a completely different experience from a reserved couple who likes a lot of privacy. (both are enjoyable in their own way)  We’ve photographed weddings where celebrities were there, weddings where the bride sang a song to the groom that brought guests to tears, weddings that were an adventure to get to-like a small private plane ride, and small private weddings that were very personal and meaningful that left me changed forever just from being witness to that kind of love-which is really why I love being a wedding photographer so much, my clients really inspire me! Also-I find travel to be very exciting and right up there in the “cool” department, so I’m going to narrow it down to destination weddings for the “coolest” ones we’ve photographed.

Why is travel so exciting? I think travel changes & inspires you. Getting away to a change of scenery, and sometimes even the process of getting there… One of the most exciting trips I have ever taken was a trip to Belize (Ambergris Caye) with my husband. This was completely for pleasure, the highlights being 1.)How we got there-a small prop plane that only fit up to 6 people including the 2 pilots, and diving with sharks! You can see some clips from that trip on my Instagram here. That was so much fun, but one of our “favorite” trips was about our 30th time to Cozumel which was in 2019 right before the pandemic hit. It was our “puppy moon” trip, we wanted to carve away some time to just relax in our favorite location on the planet before bringing home our new puppy. Even though we’ve been there a million times, this time was different because instead of exploring, hiking, doing tours, we literally did almost nothing but listen to the ocean, relax outside and be at peace with each other in this magical place…we still talk about that trip and how wonderful it was. This is the view from our condo:IMG_6506--for-web-copyBut I’m sort of digressing…To answer the original question, I’ll list my picks for top destinations, but include selections with a variety of laid back chill places and also places that offer a lot of activity for your guests, and one that can actually provide both options…I’ll save that one for the end!

For a Minnesota Destination wedding, I cannot recommend enough the north shore, BUT specifically Surfside (Bluefin Bay family of resorts) The views at that particular spot are seriously freaking amazing! They even allow dogs if you want to bring them along. The only downside is they book at least a year out, so you really need to plan ahead. Taylor & Rick had their wedding there and it was so awesome we had to go back the following year, just us and our dog, it was such an enjoyable stay, even during the pandemic-with so many beautiful sights, hiking trails and a dog friendly brewery in nearby Grand Marais! It provides everything you could want-epic scenery for photos, lovely luxury accommodations for you and your guests and enjoyable activity for your guests as well.IMG_1824

Mexico is one of our favorite vacation spots because we enjoy the warm Caribbean. We have photographed a few weddings in the Cancun/Playa Del Carmen area, which has so many affordable options for accommodations. One resort in particular in Playa Del Carmen that did a fantastic job for Ashley & Stuart is Riu Yucatan on the southern edge of Playa, it’s near the jungle so they have howler monkeys all over the property, which was really an amazing experience. Just check out this video on You Tube to see what I’m talking about. Hearing the sound of them in the distance in the jungle sounds like lions roaring! Don’t worry, they are not so loud you can’t sleep or anything, just really cool to experience.

Cozumel, as you heard me mention already, is a much more laid back, quiet destination in Mexico than Cancun. We know the island very well and would love for someone to get married there and bring us along to photograph! Amazingly we have not had the opportunity yet, but if you’re thinking of a warm destination for a winter wedding, this is THE spot in my opinion and I’m happy to offer ideas and help you plan! Direct flights are a little spendy but accommodations are not, and you can always take a cab from the Cancun airport to the ferry to save a bunch of money if you’re looking for ways to save. Some resorts have large sandy beaches and some of the smaller boutique resorts have coral beaches with beautiful views as well.IMG_6727IMG_6726

And finally, a destination that will literally please any guest is Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas…a destination like no other, it includes a variety of options from budget friendly accommodations to extreme luxury, activities for kids, as well as a hotel on the property that’s adult only, a whole island that’s truly incredible & unique! Your photographer will require a special Visa to cover your wedding, but the process is really easy and all of the staff on the island truly go above and beyond for you and your guests, even your hired photographer! Cory & Jen had an incredible destination wedding on a private beach (yes-no random strangers walking down the beach during your ceremony!) Trent and I had so much fun taking them around to different spots for photos, they were game for anything. It was a truly memorable wedding that probably tops them all!
IMG_4419-4IMG_4398IMG_4288-copy-copyIMG_4271IMG_3720-for-webIMG_4321I really like being helpful and sharing what I’ve learned from photographing destination weddings and international travel for several decades now. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about any of these or other locations we’ve photographed weddings at, or even if you’re just planning a trip and looking for info-I’m happy to help in any way!

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