Photography Prep for a Destination Wedding

I've said it thousand times before: I love making lists. There's no greater feeling than scratching some task off and feeling like you could give the Old Spice guy a run for his money. Then there's JD. Who hates lists with equal proportion to root canals. I keep everything in this safe, he says as he taps the side of his head, his temple to be exact. And this? Drives. Me. Crazy.

We learned early on that we function and think differently. In light of this, we clearly separate what we're each responsible for as a way to avoid mistakes, mishaps, or missteps. Or attitude. I'm Puerto Rican…I specialize in attitude.

JD is entirely responsible for preparing the bags, so I thought I'd give a breakdown of what pre-wedding prep looks like for us as we travel for out-of-town weddings.  We're headed to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a wedding next week, so I want to share insight into our prep and packing process.  I'm not sure if this will help anyone, but when I first started out, I wished I had some sort of barometer to gauge if I was doing things wrong. Well, 10 years later I can't guarantee it's right, but it's not wrong. So let's get this fiesta started.

Day Before We Depart
* JD cleans lenses and cameras, reformats all CF cards, charges camera/video lights batteries. He counts the CF cards to make sure we take plenty and put new batteries in our flashes and Pocketwizards.
* JD lays everything on the office floor so I can double check our gear before he packs the bag.

* JD packs the camera bag, along with the off-camera flash setup and all battery charges (along with an electrical converter so we are certain we can use international outlets).
* JD packs the laptop computer with card readers (for the same-day wedding slideshow) and an external hard drive so we can backup the images before returning home.

*JD packs passports and a $100 in small-bill cash (and visas if needed).  He also called our bank and credit card companies to let them know we'll be making transactions out of the country, so our cards aren't suspended due to suspicious international activity.
* I pack protein bars and other non-perishable snacks.

Departure Day
* I check my email for any last-minute changes the bride or coordinator might have sent overnight.
* I review the wedding itinerary and ensure I have emergency contact numbers (which I requested in advance), as well as hotel information and transportation information.
* I program all addresses in our phones of where we are scheduled to be.
* I sing a song.
* Before leaving, part of our ritual is to go through a list (a list!! I WIN!!) to ensure we have everything, including backup gear and things we'll likely never use, but take anyway (like a reflector and photocopies of our passports).


From trial and error, this system seems to work very well for us…and maybe it'll help you just a bit as well. If not, no worries. I'll simply make a list of ways I can get better!  (I kid, I kid.)


We don't check in bags when we travel for weddings, so everything fits into two carry-on suitcases, a backpack filled with camera gear, and my purse.  More than anything, we don't want to draw attention to ourselves/our gear when we travel internationally, so we've learned to cram in everything we need (yes, we take all of our gear for destination weddings), even if it means packing the bare essentials for clothing.

I hope this helps and if you have questions, I'd love to answer them!