For years, one of the things I’ve always said is that I don’t shoot weddings. It was kind of a rule I had for myself. I wanted to shoot things that I was passionate and excited about, and for the most part, wedding photography wasn’t always part of that equation. But rules, as they say, are meant to be broken. I knew the time to break the rule had come when Rachel and Blair, a fun-loving couple from Vancouver, asked if I’d join them in at the spectacular Riu Palace Mexico in Playa del Carmen to photograph their wedding.

Here was a chance for me to combine my love of traveling to hot tropical climates with my love of capturing emotion and beauty. I didn’t want to provide typical wedding photography, so I pledged to myself that I would seek out opportunities to do things that were different and fun and would offer Rachel and Blair a variety of unique photos.

The first opportunity came up early. I had brought a waterproof camera bag, so I could shoot at the beach and in the water without worrying about saltwater and sand wrecking the camera. I saddled up my old Canon 5D with a 24mm lens and headed into the water with Rachel, Blair and a bunch of their friends. Here are a couple of photos from that sunny day in the sea.

The beach really was spectacular, with clean blue skies and azure water. I really wanted to see what it would look like early in the morning, which is why I got up at 5:45am the second day there and made the trek down to the shore. I filmed a little video of the sunrise to share. But, my real reason to be there was to scout out the location for what I imagined would be some beautiful photos of the couple. Sure enough, the first golden hour of the day provided perfect light for shooting romantic portraits. A couple of days later, I persuaded Blair and Rachel to join me at the beach for a casual session.

There were other fun events during the week too. Rachel had a bit of a bachelorette party on the beach, where she had to complete some fun and silly tasks like drawing a portrait of a stranger, and then selling it to him. She also had to retrieve drinks from the bar with a seashell tucked between her knees.

Finally, the day of the big ceremony arrived. I thought it would be fun to do a short photo session with the bride and her bridesmaids on the beach while they were all dressed up. The girls were game for it, of course. As we baked in the sun and midday heat during the short walk to the beach, it was fun to see Rachel get plenty of admiring stares and comments from supportive guests. We took a few photos, and then I hustled back to the lobby, where the guys were sequestered, waiting for the big moment. I took a few photos of them, and then went back to meet up with the girls again. There were some tense moments, broken by occasional shenanigans and imitations of the Queen. Eventually, the wedding planner arrived, and led us through the hallways of the hotel to where the ceremony was to begin. On cue, Rachel and her bridesmaids descended the stairs from the lobby. Understandably, Rachel was nervous. But as her dad escorted out into the sun and to the gazebo where Blair was waiting, her joy in the moment was irrepressible.

The ceremony was all in Spanish, led by a smiling Mexican official, and loosely translated by one of the groomsmen. It was done quite quickly, and everyone celebrated with smiles and high fives, as the newly married couple danced down the steps of the gazebo.

Later that evening, at the resort’s steakhouse, the bride and groom hosted a reception. As the gorgeous Caribbean dusk gave way to night, there were laughs, dancing, and the occasional joyful tear.

Finally, the happy couple indulged me with one final photo shoot in the spectacular lobby of the hotel. I had wanted to do this shot since first seeing the rich decor and the magnificent chandelier lit up at night.

It was incredible fun to work with Rachel and Blair. It’s not hard to see that they’re made for each other, and I was honored to be able to capture this important milestone in their lives together. My week with them and their tight-knit family and friends was enough to convince me that I should break my “no weddings” rule more often. If you’d like to talk to me about shooting your destination wedding, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you.