Today’s guest post comes to us from Mikkel Paige Photography. Based out of New York City, Mikkel is a longtime Disney fan and she’s been a friend of mine for years. She recently shot a wedding on the Disney Cruise Line and I asked her to share her thoughts on hiring a non-Disney wedding photographer to capture your DCL event. Here’s what she had to say:
Some of my happiest memories have been aboard Disney Cruise Line, with the breeze blowing by and a smile on my face. Carefree, away from computers and cell phones, I feel like I can truly relax on their ships.
For those reasons and more, I think Disney Cruise Line Fairy Tale Weddings are amongst the most special options out there. Few other places provide sun, sand, water, multiple destinations, and heart-warming Disney details all in one trip. DCL weddings offer an amazingly unique setting for the bride and groom, whether it be onboard a ship or on Castaway Cay’s beaches, and they’re a wonderful vacation for guests as well. It turns what could be a couple of hours of celebration on land into days of togetherness and festivities at sea.
I love art and attention to details, which is part of why I love DCL’s ships. Forever with a camera in hand, I walk from deck to deck, forward to aft, capturing the specialness that only Disney can get right. That’s pretty much how I generally go about my life: capturing moments, knowing that years from now I’ll rely on my artistry in photography to recall distant memories.
This leads me to the discussion of photography. As a woman who values photography, and is also a professional wedding photographer, I wanted to take this opportunity to shed some light on the topic as it’s natural to for a bride and groom to consider their options after deciding to say “I do” with DCL as their venue. Naturally, I’m biased (as any photographer would be) but it’s important to highlight key things to consider.
Opinions vary from each individual to another. As such, I note that this post is based on my professional experience and on conversations I’ve had with other professional photographers who have photographed cruise weddings, not necessarily the views of all photographers.
Let’s start with what Disney’s onboard third-party photography company offers their DCL wedding couples. Prices vary from year to year as they potentially increase over time but generally packages start around $500 and go up to around $1200, depending on services and products you select. All sessions include:
- Photographer, assigned to you once you’re aboard the ship
- One hour of photography (additional hours can be purchase for between $85-$100 per hour)
- Limited prints
A couple can add the popular disc option for around $500 or include it in the highest package option offered. As I understand it, because it’s a third party, your photos are not linked into the parks and resorts Photopass system, thus are only available on the ship or on the disc you get.
I believe everyone would ideally bring along their own photographer if a tight budget wasn’t a concern. It will most likely cost you a little more to hire an outside professional. It’s a decision you and your fiance need to make after discussing your budgetary priorities.
The investment for bringing along an outside photographer of your choosing completely vary. It could be anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. I will, however, note that since they need to sail with you in order to be there to provide photography, here’s what you can assume you most likely need to cover:
- Sailing of photographer plus one guest (this is essentially the same cost as one person sailing alone – the cost doesn’t increase until you put guest #3 in a cabin)
- Photography collection in addition to sailing
- Travel fees of photographer getting to/from your sailing port
You may think, “Isn’t covering the cost of a cruise for a photographer payment enough?” Unfortunately, it isn’t. Though vacation is nice, it is standard practice to be paid while traveling for business purposes. Booking a cruise wedding is a considerable time commitment for them because this means they cannot book additional weddings for any dates included within your cruise sailing and travel time to get there. (If they’re committed to photographing your wedding and sailing with you for over 4 days, for example, it means they cannot book another wedding on any of those days. In this regard, it’s unlikely they won’t want to cover their financial bases. It is, afterall, their career and they need to look out for their financial well-being to stay in business.)
It’s important to consider the pros of bringing along a professional photographer. Here’s what you can get from bringing along a professional wedding photographer:
- Photographer of your choice who specializes in weddings
- Upwards of 4 hours of photography, capturing moments like getting ready in your room and the salon, first look, and a myriad of options around the ship
- Digital files (not just on a disc – they’re often simply digitally accessible after your trip)
- Professional retouching
- Gallery of wedding images to share with family and friends after the event
- Ability to order professional prints and products (albums, thank you cards, etc.) stress-free, in a leisurely manner after your wedding
One thing I love about working with brides and grooms is the amazing interaction I have with them. Through many conversations over email, the phone, Skype and in person they become friends. This forms a layer of comfort that shines through their photos on their wedding day. The camera knows when a couple is uncomfortable and the camera knows when a couple is relaxed. Chances are, if we’ve spoken a dozen times come wedding day and I’m clear on what imagery they gravitate towards, and we have great chemistry they’re going to be far more relaxed than if they had only met their photographer that week, sometimes only the day before, or if at all.
This is by far my favorite advantage for a bride and groom bringing along a pro. You just can’t beat personalization! Planning a wedding is half the fun – it’s so great to be able to call up your photographer for something as simple as discussing what your dress looks like. I guarantee if it’s the right photographer for you, he or she will be happy to hear about it, anticipating what wonderful imagery they can create of you in your incredible dress.
A bride will miss planning the details of her wedding when it’s over. It’s so nice that I get to speak to the bride after her wedding too. I ensure her and her husband get the products and gallery from their wedding they deserve, not having to rush their decision about something as trivial as prints because it’s their only chance to get what Disney has included in their package before they rush off to their last cruise activity.
Furthermore, you’re hiring a seasoned professional. Surely you’ve seen a lot of his or her work before signing a contract; there are no surprises. You’re investing in a specialist and can rest assured knowing what you’re getting.
Notwithstanding, Disney’s onboard photography option is a good one. I am happy they have the option. I’m simply encourage couples to have the “who’s our photographer going to be?” conversation to ensure they’re making the best decision for them. This is your wedding – you only have one opportunity to get it captured correctly.
After the dress has been worn, the vows have been exchanged, and the ring is on your beloved’s finger, you’ll only have your photos to share with family and friends to recall this spectacular day.
Who do you feel comfortable entrusting with the honor of capturing it?