I wanted to write this blog about a wedding we shot at Ocean Riviera Paradise near Playa del Carmen, Mexico to show you that despite the setbacks of this day, the bride and groom (and their guests) had the absolute best time of their lives (groom's words!). As soon as we arrived, Ashley and Roc were our instant friends with their down-to-Earth, outgoing personalities - we just clicked! Good vibes were all around despite an extremely hot early afternoon, that led to hurricane force winds during the ceremony, a sandstorm and powerful rain downfall during the reception that forced the resort to cut the electricity to their outdoor affair. I know this sounds like every bride's worst nightmare (and photographers), but I wanted to show you that even if things like this happen- you can still have an absolute blast!
This leads me to a few tips that you should think about (and ask the resort about) when booking your destination wedding:
1. Can you cut off your resort wrist bands? This resort didn't allow it, others resorts charge big fees to cut it off for the day. Some don't care at all. Ask ahead and get it in writing!
2. If seaweed is in town, does your resort rake the ceremony area before it begins? Some do, some don't. Some people aren't bothered by seaweed (it is natural after all), others despise it because it is a little smelly.
2. What is the resort's rain plan? Some resorts will stick you in a 1970's looking conference room, others have nice alternatives. Better to know before you get there. Some resorts have extreme rain policies like- 30% chance of rain, even though there's not a cloud in the sky? Into the conference room you go or pay an extra $1000! (I'm looking at you Riu) Ask them in advance, get it in writing, print it out and bring it with you! (Seriously).
3. If it rains during the reception, can the show go on as planned? Or do they have the gear to protect their equipment? This resort was under prepared, leaving a pitch-black reception on the beach when the rain stopped (they never turned the electricity back on to the outdoor area).
4. What does the ceremony area look like (wide shot) and how close are sunbathers to the ceremony location? This resort had lots of outdoors showers scattered all over the beach, and hundreds of loungers stacked very close to the ceremony and reception areas.
5. What kind of lighting does the resort provide at night? This resort had an industrial flood light, which wasn't super flattering. (Then no light at all, as I mentioned before).
6. Does your photographer have adequate lighting and camera gear to shoot in the dark and/or rain and sandstorms? After the electricity was cut, we were shooting in the dark, during a huge sandstorm. Luckily we had a lot of lens wipes on hand (constantly cleaning off the sand and dust from our lenses), rain bags for our cameras and great cameras that can focus in the dark (and our own off-camera lighting and video lights to use).
That all being said, the resort was only a few months old and had some kinks to work out. I really hope they allow their brides and grooms in the future to cut off their wristbands, and organize their check-in process better (it was pure chaos in the lobby when we arrived). However, the wedding coordinator was very nice and was doing her best to make things run smoothly. All in all, we had a great time and it was a memorable day for everyone involved! Cheers to the sweet bride and groom, and thanks for your cool vibes!