It’s no secret that Miami is an incredible place to have a wedding. Miami has continued to remain my favorite place to shoot in the US throughout my years as a destination wedding photographer. It’s is the quintessential tropical destination that you don’t need a passport to get to. A Miami wedding can sound glamorous but there are lots of tough choices to make throughout the planning process. From finding the right Miami wedding photographer to deciding where to get married, there’s no end to the decision making. I hope to guide couples in the right direction to make their wedding planning as stress-free as possible. Here’s my complete guide to a Miami wedding!
How to Find a Miami Wedding Photographer
If you’re like me, you’ve have had your wedding photographer in mind since you and your fiance started dating. On the other hand, you could be 6 months from your wedding without even having thought of wedding photography. Whatever your personality, finding the right Miami wedding photographer isn’t as straightforward as other vendors. Luckily, you’ve got at least 3 ways to begin your search. Here’s what I recommend to help with your hunt for the right wedding photographer!
It’s hard to beat having a referral for your wedding photographer. Not much tops a legitimate stamp of approval from friends and family. Getting to see how a photographer captures a friend’s wedding can provide a clear look into how your wedding photos might turn out. I’d take a personal reference over reviews from strangers any day. The issue is, not everyone has access to a talented wedding photographer in their network. I was among the first of my friends to get married, so I couldn’t look at someone else’s photos to help me get an idea of who to hire for my wedding. Even if you have friends who have already gotten married, the style of their photographer may not be the right fit for you. If you can’t get a personal reference, don’t worry, there are a few other ways to find qualified candidates.
In 2019, couples have the entire internet at their disposal to find the right Miami wedding photographer. Most couples start their search by looking in directories, like Wedding Wire. Directories are great because you can see reviews from other brides but they can be a bit overwhelming. It’s not easy to sort through a list of 50 photographers but it can be a good place to start. Half of the brides I work with find me through Instagram, which is a fantastic resource. A wedding photographer’s Instagram shows their recent work, personality, and how in-demand they may be. Instagram is also more direct so it cuts out the middle man of a directory, which is a pay-for-placement system. There’s also Google, which can let you skip the directories and lead you to the most relevant wedding photographer for any given city.
One of the best ways to find your wedding photographer is by first finding the right engagement photographer! An engagement session is a great mini-trial run for a wedding. For one, you have a chance to see how comfortable you are around the photographer. Additionally, couples have the opportunity to see how professional their photographer is. You get first-hand insight into how quickly they turn around the photos, how their editing style looks on you, and how they act during the shoot. These are all huge factors when it comes to making the final hiring decision. Overall, an engagement session is a perfect preview into hiring the right Miami wedding photographer.
Local or Foreign
If you’re coming in from out of town, it might be tempting to bring a photographer with you. Hiring someone from your city seems convenient but usually comes with the drawback of travel fees. Miami is a huge city with a wealth of talented photographers so I recommend hiring locally for a Miami wedding. Having intimate knowledge of the area puts local Miami wedding photographers at a huge advantage over someone from out of town. If you hire a photographer from outside of South Florida, there’s a chance you’ll miss out on the local gems. The usual downside of hiring local is having limited options but Dade County alone has nearly 3 million people. It’s not a small island like Santorini with 15,000 people and a restricted pool of options.
When To Get Married in Miami
When to get married in Miami is a question every couple struggles with. If you’re coming from outside of South Florida, I would read the next part very carefully. Miami’s tropical climate makes for year-round beautiful warm weather but it’s also extremely volatile. For unpredictable weather, you couldn’t pick a better location than Miami, which is what makes the date you choose so important. Here’s my breakdown of each season to guide you in the right direction for your wedding day. Make sure to read when to get married in Miami for a more detailed look into the best date for your wedding.
In my opinion, Spring is one of the best seasons for weddings in Miami. March and April still retain the cool, sunny weather from Winter, making outdoor weddings a great option. The rain doesn’t start to pick up until mid-May, so you’ll be generally safe from getting hit by unexpected weather. An added plus is that flowers in Miami bloom during this time, so your outdoor wedding can have the most vibrant background. You also might be able to find cheaper options for venues during this season! With Spring, the earlier your wedding the better. The closer your wedding is to June 21st, the more you’ll pick up the less desirable characteristics of Summer.
Summer is a tricky season for people who live in Miami, especially for weddings. The summer heat and humidity are fierce from mid-June through early September. An outdoor wedding can be a nightmare as the heat and humidity cause an uncomfortably sweaty problem for all guests involved. Summer is also the start of hurricane season in Miami, which means extremely unpredictable weather and lots of rain. It could be a clear day in the morning and pouring rain an hour later. From what I’ve witnessed as a Miami wedding photographer, Miami’s unpredictable and extreme summer weather isn’t usually worth it for your special day.
Although not as bad as summer, Fall also may not be the best option for a Miami wedding. Hurricane season carries through Fall, causing unpredictable weather and lots of rain. Some Miami fall days can be stunning, with beautiful weather and cooler temperatures. Unfortunately, days like that from September until early November are few and far between. For those who don’t mind taking their chances, vendor prices are usually lower during these months. However, I’d advise waiting until mid-November at the earliest if you’re planning a Fall wedding. If you’re looking for a more traditional Autumn aesthetic, I’d consider a place like Napa Valley or New York.
Winter is the peak season for weddings in Miami. The cooler weather creates the perfect setting for a comfortable outdoor wedding. Winter is also the dryest season, so the chance of rain is slim to none. The biggest advantage of a winter wedding in Miami is for anyone coming from a colder place. If you’re having a destination wedding, your guests will jump at the chance to escape the cold. Keep in mind that weddings in Miami are the most expensive during this season and venues get booked far in advance. Make sure to start booking vendors 12-15 months out to be certain about getting who you want. During my time as a Miami wedding photographer, I’ve found that the winter months are the best for a wedding in Miami.
What to Look for in a Miami Wedding Photographer
There’s a lot of talented wedding photographers in Miami. It’s not uncommon for my brides to have narrowed down a handful of good candidates before deciding to hire me. How do you know what to look for when making a final hiring decision? I’ve found that there are 4 main elements your Miami wedding photographer should have to be considered a good fit. I’ve talked about what to look for in a destination wedding photographer before but Miami weddings are their own unique set of circumstances. Here’s my advice on 4 aspects to look for in your Miami wedding photographer.
Knowledge of Location
Your Miami wedding photographer must have extensive knowledge of the location for your wedding. Miami can be extremely unpredictable so your photographer must have a plan B, C, and D for photos. There’s also the perk of getting access to the obscure places no other photographers know about. I’ve got a secret park that I always take couples for engagement sessions. Even people from Miami are shocked by how beautiful and open it is. It may be hidden in plain sight, but it’s a spot that only a local Miami wedding photographer would know about. No amount of research on Pinterest can beat a photographer who was raised in Miami and knows all the hidden gems.
Ability to Improvise
Being able to think quickly on my feet has been an essential skill in my time as a wedding photographer. With weddings being so unpredictable, your Miami wedding photographer has to be able to improvise. In my experience, you can always count on something going wrong on a wedding day. For South Florida, the weather is usually the culprit. With Miami’s tropical climate, it’s no surprise when a bright and sunny day turns gray at a moment’s notice. I’ve lost count of how many times a bride has started to panic when rain looks imminent. It’s easy to succumb to fear in those moments, which is why a photographer who’s been in those situations before is such an important asset. My goal when something goes wrong is to make the photos look like everything went according to plan. I wouldn’t be able to do that without my ability to improvise.
Experience with Beach Weddings
If you’re getting married on Miami Beach, your photographer has to have experience with shooting beach weddings. This just as easily applies to other coastal towns like Tulum, anywhere the main draw is the beach. Outdoor weddings, in general, can be difficult to shoot, let alone a beach wedding. Your Miami wedding photographer has to know how to combat weather issues, such as wind or rain, which are often overlooked. It’s also important to be able to get the perfect wedding photos without crowds in the background when shooting somewhere public. Years of experience with beach weddings give your wedding photographer the practice to know just what to do for your South Beach wedding.
Here’s one thing most couples don’t realize: You’re going to spend nearly as much time with your wedding photographer as your fiance on your wedding day. This is why compatibility is such an important trait in the photographer you choose to hire. You want to hire a photographer with whom you get along as well as a friend. Someone who makes you feel at ease on a very stressful day. I love it when my brides reach out to me for tips or advice before the wedding because I know it means they’re comfortable with me. If you feel that same peace of mind, you can rest easy knowing you’ve found the right photographer.
Where to Get Married in Miami
From the outside, Miami has the reputation of being high end and glamorous. In my years as a Miami wedding photographer, I’ve continued to be pleasantly surprised by the amount of variety this city has to offer. There’s far more than just the high-end resorts that line Miami Beach. From the bohemian chic of Coconut Grove to the timeless class of Coral Gables, there are several options beyond South Beach I recommend couples to consider. Here are my favorite places for weddings throughout Miami.
Coconut Grove is a stunning upscale neighborhood that runs along the shoreline of Biscayne Bay. This Miami suburb is characterized by its gorgeous parks, marina, and abundance of trees. Venues in the Grove offer a rustic feel, with authentic Miami style and impeccable design. Located in this area are Villa Woodbine and the iconic Vizcaya, which also serves as a wedding venue. For the most part, venues in this area are on the moderately priced side. I’d go with an outdoor wedding for coconut grove, there’s too much natural beauty to stay inside.
Homestead is the perfect place for an outdoor wedding. Located an hour south of downtown, Homestead offers a wide variety of outdoor spaces perfect for natural lighting wedding photos. I got married there myself, at a venue called the Whimsical Key West House. There’s a big farming community in Homestead, which also means lots of barns and open fields. Some of the most fun receptions I’ve photographed have been in renovated barns. The distance from the center of Miami makes Homestead both less crowded and more affordable. If you’re looking for the most value for your money, it’s probably going to be in Homestead.
When most people think of Miami, they think of Miami Beach. Miami Beach’s miles of shoreline offer some of the best and most beautiful beachside venues in the entire country. I just shot one of my favorite weddings at the Mondrian Hotel which you can see here. My time as a Miami wedding photographer has brought me through dozens of different hotels on South Beach. Couples can find classic art deco styles as well as ultra-modern luxury all within a few blocks. With weddings in this area being so coveted, venues here are some of the most expensive. An added plus is that Miami Beach is also an incredible place to honeymoon. If you like the idea of being a 30-second walk to the sand, there’s plenty of resorts that fit the bill.
Coral Gables is an exquisite town located about 25 minutes southwest of downtown Miami. Its distinct feel can be attributed to the towering Oak trees, Spanish architecture, and attentive upkeep. Most town mottos are immaterial but ‘the city beautiful’ is perfectly apt for Coral Gables. As pretty as it is, most of the venues here are upscale hotels and country clubs. If you’re looking into an outdoor wedding, you’d be better suited to Homestead. Still, the Gables offers a multitude of hotels with stunning ballrooms fit to hold hundreds of guests. Venues in this area can be moderately priced to expensive.
If you want an urban feel to your wedding, Brickell might be the place for you. With venues showcasing the beautiful city skyline, Brickell weddings often have the quintessential Miami view. I never got tired of the high-rises and amazing rooftop views when I lived in Brickell. For the luxury of Miami Beach, with less traffic and fewer tourists, I’d look into Brickell. The only downsides for Brickell are fewer options for venues and being generally on the more expensive side. Another popular and beloved spot near Brickell is the Wynwood Art District, which has venues right in the heart of the famous art-filled walls.
Hiring a Miami Wedding Photographer
Deciding on a photographer isn’t the last step when it comes to hiring a Miami wedding photographer. There are still a few questions left to nail down even if you’ve already made your final hiring decision. You’ve got to pick your package, hours, and whether or not you want a second shooter. Depending on the photographer, there can be more variables like travel fees but these are usually the main three. Here’s what you should consider when finalizing the photography for your Miami wedding.
How Much Should I Pay a Miami Wedding Photographer
You don’t need to pay a small fortune to find an exceptional Miami wedding photographer. My rule of thumb for photography is 10%-15% of the wedding budget, depending on how much you value photos. Unless you’re eloping, in which case half of your budget can be allotted to photo and video. When it comes to a photographer, you usually get what you pay for. If you hire a family friend who does photography as a hobby, you’ll get hobby quality photos. If you hire a professional, you’ll get professional photos. It’s worth hiring someone who you feel confident about, even if it means stretching your budget. It may seem like a lot now, but when you’re looking back on your photos on your 10th, 20th, and 30th anniversary, you’ll know it was worth every penny.
Should you hire a second shooter? It’s one of the most common questions I get asked when deciding on a package. The first factor you should consider is how many guests are going to be in attendance. Even the most skilled Miami wedding photographer would feel overwhelmed with handling a 180-person wedding alone. If your guest list passes 100-120 people, I’d strongly recommend budgeting for a second shooter. Secondly, it depends on how much you value photography. A second perspective at a much lower rate than the principal photographer is a great deal. I like having a second shooter with me to take photos of the groom getting ready before the ceremony so I don’t have to split my time with the bride. You’ll also get a second pair of eyes ready to capture a special moment that the main photographer may be too busy to see.
How Many Hours Do I Need
I used to shoot weddings based on whatever hours the couples needed. Now, my wedding packages range from 7-9 hours. It’s because I’ve found that 90% of weddings fall within this range, with 8 hours usually being the sweet spot. The outliers for extra time can be destination weddings or certain cultural weddings, which can be a multiple-day event. For traditional weddings, any more than 9 hours is usually unnecessary unless there’s a special exit. Under 7 hours is risking not being able to tell the full wedding story, which I don’t recommend. With 8 hours, I’m able to capture the couple getting ready through the dancing at the end of the night.
Pros and Cons of Getting Married in Miami
Getting married in Miami can be an absolute dream, but it has its downsides too. It’s ultimately up to each couple to weigh the pros and cons and decide for themselves whether it’s worth it. In my experience, the advantages outweigh the downsides by a pretty big margin. Check out a few of the major pros and cons of getting married in Miami.
If you’re searching for a stunning tropical location for your wedding, Miami is the perfect place. There’s no place to compare it to within the continental United States. With Miami’s spectacular beaches, you can have the outdoor wedding of your dreams with white sand, blue water, and the Miami skyline in the background of your ceremony. Just imagine that scene for your wedding photos! Miami is also a perfect place for guests from out of town to come to, as the city has a tremendous variety of things to do and a beautiful culture to dive into. With Miami’s large selection of dazzling hotels, gorgeous beaches, and buzzing nightlife, you might also find that an added plus to this city is doubling as a great honeymoon destination.
Although there is a wide variety of advantages to getting in married in Miami, there are some things to keep in mind when deciding if Miami is the right location for your wedding day. Miami can have extremely unpredictable weather with lots of rain throughout Summer and Fall. It’s important to try and plan your day in the more preferable seasons for getting married in Miami. Both as a photographer and a bride, I’ve also seen that Miami can be an expensive place to get married. Venues and hotels can be costly, especially during vacation season, and get booked early. It’s important to plan far in advance if you’re thinking of getting married in Miami.
Miami Wedding Photographer – Final Thoughts
It’s no wonder that Miami is one of the most sought-after wedding destinations in the country. Anyone who’s getting married in this gorgeous city is guaranteed to have a memorable experience. Being a Miami wedding photographer has taught me that this place has something to offer for just about any couple. From the resorts of Miami Beach to the fields of Homestead, there couldn’t be more variation within one city. For further questions, I love to be a resource for brides in need of help with their Miami wedding. Fill out a submission form or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for any of your Miami wedding photographer needs, and I’ll make sure to respond within 24 hours!