Sunset beach wedding
It was magic! In all the profound sense of this word. Everything that happened during this beautiful sunset beach wedding in Isla Holbox in Mexico was touched by magic. The way the sunset unfolded and started blooming with golden, purple, and red, how the bride Vanessa gracefully arrived at the ceremony on a horse, the softness of the warm sea washing over our feet, the sound of seagulls flying somewhere towards the horizon, the serenity of the beach ambiance, the promises they gave each other. I will forever remember this sunset beach wedding in Isla Holbox. It was the first one I photographed on a small island located five hours from Cancun and one of the last ones I did while living in Mexico.
My memories of their wedding are still vibrant and lively like it happened yesterday. I close my eyes and see them standing in the water, myself walking around them, clicking the shutter button, capturing their smiles and eyes reflecting love and deep connection. Do I imagine all these details, or is that photography magic at work? I know the answer; it’s magic. Photography captures light – beautiful, sincere, gentle, and love is light. Whenever there is love, there is light, and where is a light and creative photographer with a camera, amazing photos are guaranteed.
Tips for bride and groom planning a sunset beach wedding in Isla Holbox.
When you plan a sunset beach wedding, it’s easy to predict everything except the weather and the sunset quality. You can view the weather forecast every day and still get a surprise from nature, either pleasant or not. That’s why always have plan B in mind and discuss it with your wedding planner or friends who help you to organize a wedding.
Vanessa found me searching for a Cancun photographer on Google, contacted me via one of my websites, and booked my photography service half a year in advance. That’s the best timeframe for booking a photographer for Isla Holbox wedding. They had an intimate wedding, with just four friends present, and they had a blast! Fewer guests mean more quality time for yourself and the one that traveled to share that happiness with you. They didn’t have a wedding planner, and the owner of the villa Casa Libélula Beach Front House they rented helped with wedding flowers. Once they arrived on the island several days prior, they found a restaurant for the wedding reception. Since there were only six people, making a reservation for a specific date was easy, even at short notice. The ceremony was at 7.00 PM (end of August) in front of the villa, a perfect time for a beautiful sunset beach wedding in Isla Holbox. Photos in front of colorful houses we took before the ceremony, driving around downtown on a rented golf cart.
Yes! A beautiful bride riding a horse is a fairy tale that can also turn into reality for you. Just note that officially, horses are not allowed to walk into the sea in Isla Holbox, so you have to make a “special arrangement” with the owners of a horse, which my beautiful clients did, several hours prior to the wedding. And it’s another example of magic!
In the Caribbean side of Mexico, there are several places where you can expect to have a beautiful sunset beach wedding. One is Isla Holbox; others are Isla Mujeres and Cozumel Islands. My favorite is Isla Mujeres (translated as “Island of Woman”) for its balanced combination of beaches, rocks, beautiful sea, stunning sunsets on the North side, and equally gorgeous sunrise on the South side. When you fly to Cancun International Airport, it will take you:
- 2 hours to get to Isla Mujeres
- 4-5 hours to get to Cozumel or Isla Holbox
The timeline is approximate and depends on the day of the week, means of transportation, and ferry schedule. All three islands require using a ferry at some point. Isla Holbox has the least advanced ferry, and first, you’ll have to get to Chiquila town.
Things to keep in mind when you travel to Isla Holbox:
- WI-FI is extremely slow and often disconnects
- There is no pavement on the roads, so specks of dust in the air are common.
- For transportation purposes, only golf carts and bicycles are allowed.
- There are NO big shopping stores (think Walmart, Kroger, etc.), only small, locally-owned stores.
- Bring some local cash. Several ATMs are on the island, but what if they don’t work?! Which might happen on a small island.
- Use mosquito repellent in the evening. On a wedding day, ask your friends to keep one in the purse if someone needs extra protection. Those little, flying aggressors can go wild, especially in the summer.
- One thing I constantly repeated to my brides: “Please, know that it’s scorching in Isla Holbox, and it’s easy to get sunburned, so use extra sun protection before the wedding.” I also underlined it in my contracts, so they pay special attention to this matter. Photoshop is all mighty but also has limits, and sunburn removal can cost you extra money. So, take extra special care of your skin when walking under the sun in Isla Holbox.
Tips for destination photographers.
Congratulations if you’ve been invited to capture Isla Holbox sunset beach wedding! I’m sure you will have a wonderful time traveling there and taking photos. It’s a wild, beautiful island where you can still find some pristine nature and drive on a golf cart to spots that few people visited before you.
As a destination photographer, I stayed two nights on the island in the Bhoga Boutique Hotel, which was 5 minutes from the villa and the nearest beach. It’s a nicely designed property with slow WI-FI and wood termites that live and feed in the wood ceiling. I noticed them on the bed in the morning, but it didn’t make sense to change rooms because every room at the hotel has the same wood ceiling. So, do you in-depth research when booking a hotel in Isla Holbox.
I used a Nikon d750 with two lenses, Nikkor 16-35 and Nikkor 24-70. My favorite sunset wedding is the second. I used manual exposure program, f 6.3 aperture, and 1/250 shutter speed during the ceremony and f.4 aperture, and 1/160 shutter speed for late sunset photos. I don’t use Flash. Instead, I often use YONGNUO YN360 LED Video Light, which helps to preserve all the shadows and show dimension. Flash adds some flatness to the image, which I try to avoid. But Flash or LED light is always a matter of personal taste and the photographer’s style.
All the beaches in Mexico are federal property, which means you can take photos at any of them. The trick is to find access to the beach. Some of the most beautiful beaches are part of hotels or private villas, so access is restricted. In Isla Holbox, it’s less common than in Cancun or Playa del Carmen, where hotels are more aggressive to outside vendors and photographers. So, confirm with the wedding planner and couple what beach area you can access.
There is no pavement on the roads, so specks of dust are everywhere downtown. If you rent a golf cart to drive around and take photos with the couple, protect your lenses (more than ever!) and keep the cleaning kit handy. I had to clean my lenses three-five times while we were downtown. You might not see specks of dust while taking photos, but it’s there! Trust me, I’ve been there and was unpleasantly surprised when I checked my lenses twenty minutes after we started the photoshoot!
Although specks of dust might disappoint you, the downtown in Holbox is lavish with colorful houses, art murals, and local scenery of daily life, all worth capturing and incorporating into wedding photos. I took the photos of houses you see in this gallery downtown. As a reference point, use the dome, a place for local music events and art festivals. Several blocks around the dome’s circumference, you’ll see colorful houses and walls with paintings.
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