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Bringing my own wedding photographer along for a Disney Cruise Line sailing to capture my wedding, instead of going with Disney Cruise Line Wedding Photography from Shutters, would be exactly what I would choose if I was getting married on DCL.
In fact, I don’t hide that I was once planning a wedding on a Disney cruise. I know first-hand why this type of wedding is especially appealing and unique. (The relationship didn’t work out the memories of booking a DCL wedding remain.)
Getting married on a Disney Cruise – whether on their private island, Castaway Cay (pronounced “key” – here’s a fun essential guide to cruise ship terms including land info to know), or aboard the ship – is a singular destination idea that captures a Disney lover’s nostalgic heart.
The ships are impeccable. The staff even nicer than any Cast Members at Walt Disney World or Disneyland, and there are very few variables in cost. It’s a relatively economical option in the midst of surmounting wedding celebration costs these days that has a big memorable impact, thus making a Disney Dream wedding possible. (Literally and figuratively.)
Disney Fairy Tale Weddings makes the “menu” for a wedding easy to understand and book; it takes away much of the guesswork for your budget.
Accordingly, it becomes increasingly appealing to raise your budget a little bit to bring along your own photographer.
If you are on any Disney Cruise Line bride or wedding forums you know it’s a topic often discussed. (I’m a part of a lot of those forums so I see it all the time!)
Stick with me through this post because if you’re considering bringing along your own Disney Cruise Line wedding photographer you’ll want to read all of this.
Also, please know this post includes what Mikkel Paige Photography offers and it’s my opinion of the benefits of bringing me along to photograph your day.
I cannot speak for other photographers – if you reach out to a different vendor about what they can provide for your wedding it may be different.
For example, I make useful photography timelines for all my couples whether DCL or otherwise. I don’t know if all photographers you contact do the same. So this post pertains to my services, in particular.
Be sure to check out more information about what you get with Mikkel Paige Photography that you don’t with other photographers.
Disney Cruise Line offers photography services on their ships. It’s my understanding the photographers utilized for weddings are the same photographers onboard who capture family photos before dinner, group character photo opps and such.
Here’s the problem with this in a professional photographer’s eyes: they’re not wedding photographers.
Photographing a wedding is much different than photographing the sorts of things the Shutters team is responsible for on a day-to-day basis. Sure, you may luck out and get a great photographer. But the opposite can happen too and you may get someone awful, whose style you don’t like.
If you don’t bring your own photographer along for your Disney Cruise Line wedding, you are taking a risk going with onboard photography.
Imagine booking a wedding and not knowing who your photographer will be until you’re either aboard the ship or the DAY OF?! Who needs that stress?
Here’s what I would fear as the bride, if I chose to go with a DCL onboard photographer:
Wouldn’t you want to be enjoying your cruise and vacation, instead of stuck inside deciding on photo prints for thirty minutes to hours before you disembark? There’s already enough photos I need to select simply from days aboard the ship between dinners and character meets without the added pressure of choosing my wedding photos the day of or day after.
What if your ceremony is even closer to the end of the cruise? That means you have an even bigger time crunch on your hands to select prints before you get off the ship. Sigh – I can feel the pressure as I write this and it’s simply a theoretical scenario, albeit a real one if you select onboard photography.
DCL Photography is an add-on to the cruise you select, it’s not automatically part of the wedding or vow renewal package.
In addition to being able to add things onto your wedding cruise, like bouquets, boutonnieres, tiki torches and even edible wedding favors, you can add on photography.
They sell three packages with various costs (listed below, pricing as of spring 2019) and associated print packages. It is my understanding the add-on offering includes one hour of photography. Digital image files and additional hours of photography can be added onto the collection for a cost.
A jump drive (or flash drive) can be added to the Celebration or Wishes Packages for $399.95.
Here’s an example of what I would have to pay, as the bride, if I wanted the first three items below:
In simpler terms you’re getting:
Even if you book a Wishes Package and add on a jump drive it’s about $950.00.
And if you book a Magic Package, with the jump drive included, it’s just under $1,000 with Shutters.
You have to ask yourself if these packages make sense for your needs.
Personally, I would want prints of a few sizes – probably even an 11×14″ print which they don’t even offer in a package. The wedding announcements wouldn’t be important to me but the jump drive would be.
But what if I LOSE the drive on my journey home?! Or what if I bend the images I’m taking from the ship?
8×10″ images are pretty easy to bend while traveling through ports, airports and car rides.
Bringing your own photographer is getting even more appealing now when you can just get prints online and have them safely shipped to your home.
Here’s what you get with Mikkel Paige Photography you don’t with the onboard DCL option and perhaps not even with other photographers:
As a reminder, be sure to read more information about what you get with Mikkel Paige Photography that you don’t with other photographers if you haven’t already read it! It includes more crucial information I didn’t want to repeat above but is nonetheless significant.
Here’s the Catch 22 of the equation: you’re getting married with DCL because it’s affordable and uncommon. But you want to bring your own photographer, which increases costs. I completely understand.
Photography is not an area to cut-costs if you can afford it, however.
The cruise ends. Images last a lifetime.
Here’s what to expect in terms of cost to bring me along for to be your Disney Cruise Line wedding photographer:
Money is a touchy subject. I get it. I love being creative but don’t love talking about money. Most people don’t enjoy it. It’s personal and usually not the “fun” part. But it’s necessary to address.
I admit I’m continuously surprised by the amount of DCL wedding inquiries I receive each year who expect me to photograph a wedding for free or simply in “exchange” for a cruise.
I find that people who are willing to do that either don’t do this full time (which creates its own issues should you should be hiring a full time wedding photographer) or are very inexperienced.
While a cruise may be appealing and exciting, I am a serious photographer who works in this career full time. I have been on Disney Cruise Line several times. (Which is great advantage because I’m familiar with the ships and Castaway Cay.)
For someone who travels professionally and personally as often as I do, the plain truth is a cruise vacation isn’t going to pay the very real cost of me doing business when I owe money to the IRS at the end of the year, as any legitimate business owner does. Or have to pay a mortgage every month.
Camera Insurance, for one example, is a real cost to professional photographers and cannot be paid in cruise bookings. And unfortunately, neither can I. I do, however, offer discounts to DCL couples that you wouldn’t be able to take advantage of on land because I love DCL so much.
The good news is you actually get more with me than DCL onboard photography.
Here’s a few things I need to keep in mind when discussing the investment a couple has to make to bring a photographer on their cruise. I elaborate on each point below in this section of the post:
If your cruise spans a weekend, like the 3-Day sailings, please consider the side of the photographer. I have to reserve three days for your sailing, dedicated to one couple:
It’s rare I book three weddings a weekend – I actually wouldn’t want to because wow, exhaustion! But it’s not so uncommon to be booked for what photographers call a “double header” for popular wedding weekends, which means two weddings in a row.
If I’m on a cruise I am not available to photograph anyone else’s wedding. This is a risk to me as a photographer who books a limited amount of weddings a year to give every couple the attention and focus they deserve. So it’s something I have to consider.
That being said, I love DCL weddings!
If a couple books a 7-Day or 14-Day cruise then I have to consider dedicating multiple weekends to them so I can be on their sailing.
This is part of why a photographer needs to be paid for her services in addition to the cruise and travel cost the couple covers. You’re not only booking the wedding day – it’s reserving dates a photographer can potentially book if working on land, so she can be on your 3-Day, 4-Day or 7-Day cruise, for example.
I operate my business from three primary locations: south Florida, North Carolina and New York. This simply means I have to travel to/from Port Canaveral, Florida (if this is the port for your sailing) to sail on the cruise. This is quoted in your custom photography collection; costs vary based on time of year and may include mileage and/or parking at the port terminal.
It’s likely I’ll drive to the port on the east coast instead of flying. Why? I want to know my photography gear is safe and sound! And I don’t have to rely on air travel to get there, with all its uncertainties.
Driving myself to the port means I know my camera gear is in my hands.
Port parking garage costs is already included in my travel estimation included in your photography quote. I can’t get on the ship if I’m not at the port.
I need to be on the cruise to photograph your wedding.
Any money a couple pays me for their DCL wedding – let’s say $5,000 – includes money I’m simply turning around to use to pay for travel, including to the cruise line and the port. Which means I am being paid a portion of that amount for my services and expertise to document your day.
I’m a professional, which is why you contacted me, right? Professionals are paid for their services.
I totally get it: Disney Cruise Line is a cost effective way to get married and it’s often a couples’ way of making a wedding budget + vacation + memorable location work. To think photography could be equal to or more than the entire cost of the wedding (excluding the cost of the couple’s sailing too) is sometimes hard to wrap your head around.
But I can’t be there to photograph a wedding unless I’m on the ship…and I wouldn’t be able to do my job and have all these years of experience unless it was my full time career.
Here is your investment for onboard, DCL photography services using the example above under the Disney Cruise Line Photography Costs heading:
Here is your investment to have Mikkel Paige Photography photograph your wedding:
It’s a heck of a great investment for my photography services compared to Disney Cruise Line staff’s offering.
(Please note: I don’t bring a second photographer along for a DCL wedding – it’s absolutely unnecessary for a wedding which is almost always less than 50 people. I photograph about half of all my weddings solo, including luxury weddings on land, and destination weddings all over the world, with over 100 guests.)
Please contact me to discuss your wedding! I can’t wait to hear from you.
For more Disney wedding inspiration check out:
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