Destination Weddings in The Florida Keys & Key West - Helpful Tips from a Photographer

October 01, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

A Photographer's Point of View 

The Reach Resort Key West Ceremony DetailThe Reach Resort Key West Ceremony DetailCeremony Reception Artistic Couples Detail Wedding Photography Key West Florida


So you just got engaged, your all excited.  The time goes by and the fun process of wedding planning begins.  Where to go, who to invite, and what vendors to use.  Many questions arise, and a new journey and adventure begins.  As a photographer we play a small part and sometimes a large part of the planning process.  We work on shot lists, time lists, and fuel the creative energy behind the images that will remind you of your day.  Time is spent scouting the location, viewing galleries, and expectations from the bride and groom.  With that said Key West is one of those awesome places, where people get married.  The come down to play, get married on the beach, and party till 4am.  There is definitely a few times that you will see the bridal party out on Duval St after the reception. So I have put together 10 of my favorite ideas together, and give you something to help you from a photographers point of view.


The Reach Resort Wedding Ceremony Gazebo LocationThe Reach Resort Wedding Ceremony Gazebo Location Wedding Ceremony Gazebo Location

Location Location Location

When planning out your wedding the first thing you need to do before anything else is find a venue you like.  As a photographer, I do not start the booking process with a bride and groom, until they have the date and venue secure.  You need to visit these, do a walk through and figure out what you want with your ceremony.  Do you want to be on the water?  Are you inspired by Hemingway? How about a ceremony out on the sea?  Think of your overall theme you are going to go for, will the photographer you have been looking at mesh well with the venue?  Look at a venue during sunset so that you can see where the harsh light is.  You dont want your photographer shooting into the sun, as all of your ceremony photos will come back washed out.  You dont want to be looking directly into the sun as you will be squinting and we dont want that!  Look for venues that are lit from the side, and you will help your photographer create stunning images of your ceremony.  It helps you connect with photographer on your end result.


Is there going to be another sunset?

Believe it or not we get asked this a lot of times in Key West.  Tourist rushing to catch that last glimpse of Caribbean sunshine.  Its a magical time and thus runs true with photography.  Making sunset couples photos a priority in your mind will help you capture what brought you to Key West and the Florida Keys.  Its what sets you apart from others, but it is also what allows me as a photographer to use my expression, style, and vision.  Too many times I have brides who don't put the artistic couples photos as a priority, but yet send me scrambling for that last bit of light.  Take everythign into account, and chat with your photographer before the wedding day.  Send them examples of sunset wedding photography that inspires you.  Then let them work their magic behind the lens!

Smathers Beach WeddingSmathers Beach WeddingWedding Photography of a ceremony at Smathers Beach. Photography by Key West Wedding Photographer Mike Freas | Foto By Freas

Stacie & Chris - Lighthouse Court Wedding-6Stacie & Chris - Lighthouse Court Wedding-6Stacie and Christopher were married at the Key West Lighthouse Court Hotel. Photography provided by Key West and Destination Wedding Photography Mike Freas, Foto By Freas Photography

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

The Old English tale rings true, as you find your good luck in a shoe.  This is an age old tradition that is followed throughout weddings across the world.  You use this to connect your family to your day.  You remember someone, celebrate someone, or just add your own personal touch into your day.  This is something that you have grouped up in your mind.  Having these ready, for when the photographer arrives helps us know the importance and we can see the personal connection you might have with these items.  The beginning of the day is where I get to know my bridal party, family, etc.  Having these ready helps me come in, start shooting, and get the day started while being personable with your guests!


Personal Touches: Candid and Romantic

Many times a bride or groom does something personal.  This is additives for your photography.  Its what helps you connect with the camera.  Your proud of it, or its funny.  Taking that extra amount of time that you dont have, brings amazing results.  Do you have a favorite coozie, a random picture of Carlton delivered by the front desk, a handmade umbrella for nighttime photos?  The sky is the limit

Westin Key West Resort And MarinaWestin Key West Resort And MarinaNicole and Troy Glafke were married on April 30, 2015 in Key West. A very relaxed, natural, and artistic couple. Photography was produced by Mike Freas of Foto By Freas Photography. Other Vendors included Last Key Realty and Danger Charters

Groomsman Gifts DetailsGroomsman Gifts DetailsCeremony Reception Artistic Couples Detail Wedding Photography Key West Florida

Bridal DetailsBridal DetailsCeremony Reception Artistic Couples Detail Wedding Photography Key West Florida


Everyone Loves Cake!!

This one is a short but very sweet one!  We all love cake, and I love taking imagery of them just as much.  Make this a highlight of your day for photography, and let us know ahead of time if you plan to smash it in your significant others face!  I love those!!!!

Key West Wedding CakeKey West Wedding CakeCeremony Reception Artistic Couples Detail Wedding Photography Key West Florida

Reception DetailsReception DetailsCheeca Lodge Wedding in Islamorada, Florida. Mike Freas for Mary Veal Photography. Wedding Reception CandidWedding Reception CandidCeremony Reception Artistic Couples Detail Wedding Photography Key West Florida


Hire a Planner!

A planner is everyone's best friend.  They are the people that make sure everything happens, everyone is on time, picks out this, picks out that, decorates, is a nurse, etc.  The list runs forever.  The planner is a photographers MVP.  Our backbone, as we can rely on a good planner to make sure everything flows smoothly.  They get the cake prepped on time, pass out sparklers, they do it all.  Even though the DJ may be the master of ceremonies, the planner has the control.  Your planner will be your best friend, will put her personal touches on decorations and make sure that all you have to do is take deep breaths and say I do!


Weather...its always sunny!

Planning your wedding around the weather is much more in depth than what you think.  Some planners may not have even thought of this approach, so here goes.  Remember the changing of seasons.  Some days are long, and some days are short.  The longer the day the later the ceremony and reception get started.  The shorter the day, the earlier the ceremony and longer reception.  When I speak to couples about what there end result is a lot of things come to mind.  It helps work with the budget.  During the fall and winter receptions are longer, thus giving you lots of photos of the party, but you may have to sacrifice some couples shots.  So you have to plan accordingly to what matters the most to you, when figuring out your time for photography. Remember the time of season, check the sunset, and get the reception time restrictions.  Vital to making sure you get what you want out of your photography.  


Personal Time

This is something that a lot of people may not think exists during a wedding.  But they are so wrong.  During the dinner hour, you tend to get a bit of time to make a plate, sneak away, and reflect.  This is the time that I like to do my couples shots.  I can get them away from everyone, now that they have had time to let it all soak in, and smiling is something heavily rehearsed.  Make sure you make a point to do this as the images you will get are timeless

Mac's Sea GardenMac's Sea GardenCarol and Pat, one a chief and the other a master chief, were both retired from the Navy. They decided to come to Key West and get married. This was a DIY wedding that took place aboard Hindu Charters flagship, Schooner Hindu. Officiating was provided by Bethe Stenning of Rainbow Services of the Keys.

Couples Portraits took place at the Key West Postcard at Cuban Coffee Queen, and at Mac's Sea Garden. The historic schooner is docked at Key West City Marina, in the historic Key West Seaport.
Artistic Couples Portraits Wedding Reception Coconut MalloryArtistic Couples Portraits Wedding Reception Coconut MalloryCeremony Reception Artistic Couples Detail Wedding Photography Key West Florida


Arrive in Style!

A lot of ceremony venues are separate from the reception venue....Its pretty simple...think outside of the box.  Limos, Bus, Train, Plain, or by water.

Shelby and Mikey Schooner America Coconut MalloryShelby and Mikey Schooner America Coconut MalloryWeddings aboard the America 2.0 are a great option for your destination wedding in Key West.


Have fun..shake that funky chicken!

Entertainment ranges from a band to a DJ to a classical string player in the Florida Keys.  We have such a high concentration of talented artist, and it continues to grow.  This is something I feel is overlooked a lot.  Remember to think of the mood you want to have, how much energy do you want to feel, and how hype do you want to get!  My personal favorite has been a DJ, Drummer, Sax, Trumpet, Percussion, and Female Singer all in one!

Rock With U EntertainmentRock With U EntertainmentCheeca Lodge Wedding in Islamorada, Florida. Mike Freas for Mary Veal Photography. Cheeca Lodge WeddingCheeca Lodge WeddingCheeca Lodge Wedding in Islamorada, Florida. Mike Freas for Mary Veal Photography.


Regardless of where you have it.  Make it a special one.  Make it memorable.  Let the vendors become part of your family.  Your images will thank you later.  Find something that inspires you, chat with a photographer, and make your story book wedding a reality!


Sheraton Suites WeddingSheraton Suites WeddingSamantha & Josh were married at Smathers Beach. Wedding Planning by Sheraton Suites Key West Wedding. Photography by Foto By Freas Photography. Dj provided by Soundwave Productions



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