Feature and photography by Quiana Duncan
Planning a destination wedding may seem a bit daunting, however the process is easier than you think. As a former destination bride and a current professional photographer on St. Croix, here are my top five recommendations for making your planning experience pleasant and smooth.
Develop Your Vision
When I first meet with a potential client I begin by asking "What is your vision for your wedding day?" Many times my client looks at me with surprise and says, "I'm not sure!" Most of my destination wedding clients have a general idea of what they want, but the details are fuzzy. The truth is the romantic visions you have must be practical while still maintaining your style. Many times we focus solely on our own needs and wants and everything and everyone else is secondary. And, why not, it's your day! But as you begin to develop your vision, consider what it will take to execute your goals. Yes, it is your day and with proper planning it can really be spectacular for everyone.
Do Your Research
When planning a wedding, near or far, it is important to do your research. I would highly recommend a site visit. Site visits give you an opportunity to get a true feel of the island, the climate, and its amenities. Before you arrive you will want to set up meetings with potential vendors. If a site visit is not possible, phone meetings are a great way to build rapport with a potential vendor. However, when you arrive on island the week of your wedding, I recommend meeting with all of your vendors prior to the wedding day.
Build a Rapport
I love meeting with new clients! By the time we meet, the client is already familiar with my work so we can spend time getting to know each other as individuals. Either in person or by phone, rapport building is crucial because it establishes trust on both ends of the client-vendor spectrum. I understand how important photography is to my clients, and my clients understand how serious I am about my work and their satisfaction.
Contract with Confidence
When it comes to the contracting stage, the best advice I can give you is read your contracts. If something is unclear ask questions. Make sure you understand what services and/or products are included in the contract, what will be delivered and when, what is expected of you, and if there are any additional fees associated with the vendor's services and products. For instance, if the service is hourly, when does time officially start and end. If a vendor promises additional services, make sure you have it in writing. This helps keep the lines of communication open, which reinforces trust.
For many of my clients their wedding is their first encounter with a professional photographer. When I meet with clients I always ask, "how do you feel about being photographed." I get a variety of answers, but often brides will say that their future husbands hate to have their photo taken. But, more often than not, grooms do exceptionally well the day of the wedding. And, if you are not comfortable being the center of attention, the thought can be overwhelming. Keep in mind that your venture into planning your wedding day may be filled with firsts. Be prepared to make decisions as a couple and, remember, this is supposed to be fun for both you and your partner - so enjoy the journey.
Quiana L. Adams, is the owner of Q Studio, LLC and author of the forth coming The Eight Week Wedding. Quiana specializes in Wedding, Lifestyle, and Commercial Photography. For more info visit www.qstudiovi.com