You may think that during a portrait session at your destination wedding, the focus would be all on you. Of course, that’s true, but … the background for your photos plays a big part in bringing out certain emotions, colors, and the overall vibe of your portrait photography.
bride and groom in blue water

I love this photograph. The deep blue color of the water highlights April and Michael’s attire and puts a wonderful shine on their beautiful smiles.

It’s one thing many couples overlook — but it’s so important to determine what kinds of backdrops you desire so that your portrait photographs fit your unique style and personality.

That’s why I put together this guide on the best destination wedding photo backdrops, and how I help couples choose what’s right for them. Explore your options, below:

Making the Most of a Resort’s Stunning Scenery

Part of my job as a destination wedding photographer is to find the most interesting and beautiful backdrops that will put my couples in the best light. That’s why I always arrive early for destination wedding sessions; I like to take a look around the resort to find:

  • “secret” hidden away spots,
  • the most stunning parts of a beach,
  • backdrops that complement the couple’s attire in some way

bride and groom in beach hut

I love this little hidden photo gem. Cassy and Dwight look so relaxed in “their secret” beach hut near their resort

playa del carmen wedding portrait

Casa Jalach-Naj has a little historical ruin tucked away on its grounds. I took Karla and Jeff to capture some unique memorable photographs for them to enjoy and cherish.

Even if I have taken photographs at a certain resort before, I still make sure to scout out the best backdrops. I do this because the “best” backdrops change from day to day, depending on the weather and time of day.

What may look stunning in overcast weather might make a couple look washed out if it’s very sunny. I use my expertise as a natural light photographer to determine what will give you the most cherished wedding portraits that take advantage of the current conditions.

I will come up with a list of backdrop ideas for you, but it’s always a good idea to think about what kind of backdrops you would prefer for your own portraits.

At the minimum, there are three kinds of backdrops that I love and I believe will give you amazing photographs for you to cherish for a lifetime. Consider these backdrops:

1. Sun-Kissed Beach Backgrounds

When you plan a destination wedding to Mexico, having your portraits taken on the stunning Mexican beach is an absolute must!

Powder white sand and the deep blue turquoise sea provide the ultimate backdrop that speaks to the true paradise of your chosen wedding location.

And I just love how dramatic beach side photos can be — like when a bride’s long veil catches in the wind, or when dark clouds start to roll in, casting moody — and beautiful — shadows over the couple. Photographs in the sand or on a pier that juts out over the water will capture the true magic of your destination beach wedding.

dramatic wedding portrait

Though the dark clouds are starting to roll in, I saw it as an opportunity to capture this dramatic photo for Dana and Vlad to remember forever! Do you like it?

Jade wedding in Riu Cancun

This is one of my favorite photos! The turquoise color of the water and the natural lighting from the sun makes Jade and Andrew shine and makes for a picture perfect photograph.

The other great thing about using the beach as your photo background is there is room to spread out. This is good news if you want to take photos with a large wedding party, or if you have a big family — a long beach means you will not have to crowd together in the photographs.

trash the dress bride and groom

The look from both Justine and Ben’s eyes are priceless. See how the beach goes on forever.

Plus, there’s just nothing more romantic than a timeless photograph of you and your partner embracing as the endless ocean spreads out behind you. I think it’s a beautiful reminder of how your love for each other is also endless!

2. Interesting, Intricate Hacienda Architecture

If you’re having a destination wedding at a hacienda, then you’ll definitely want to take advantage of all the beautiful Old-World inspired architecture that you can use as a backdrop. Haciendas evoke a vintage Mexico vibe, as the architecture is often a little bit faded in a beautiful way from being decades — or even centuries — old. This gives your hacienda backdrop photographs a more classic feel, like a still out of an old classic movie. You’ll feel like a stylish, glamorous Old Hollywood star!

Hacienda temozon wedding portrait

The yellow and red color fusion in the background makes Sofia looks extra elegant

Hacienda wedding at Temozon

I like how the big long windows in Hacienda Temozon give a classic vibe for Marlene and Cuau. 

Some of my favorite spots for portrait sessions at haciendas are balconies and the grand staircases you’ll often find leading up to the house — these allow me to take photographs at really unique angles — or lovely archways. Old stone archways provide an interesting frame for portraits, drawing the eye to the stunning bride or groom standing inside.

3. Lush Greenery and Gardens

Don’t overlook the grounds of your hotel or resort as possible portrait backdrops. Often, resorts will have very lush greenery that’s well taken care of. I love taking photographs in these areas because the couple’s white attire really “pops” against the green backdrop. I also think that resort gardens have a really tropical feel to them, and so the photographs I take in gardens will look like the couple has been whisked away to jaw-dropping tropical paradise (which is exactly what does happen when you have a destination wedding in Mexico!).

lush greenery wedding portrait

These two are are having a private moment for their photo session in this “secret” pathway at Catalonia Riviera Maya Resort

Hacienda Misne wedding portrait

I wonder what Luis is thinking behind that sweet smile

Finally, I love garden portrait sessions because they inspire an intimacy between a couple, which I can then capture on camera. Usually, garden spots are quieter, and no one else may be around. This allows you to relax more with your partner, to let out your “shy” side, and share intimate embraces — and maybe even sneak in a kiss or two. Even though you are still at the resort, it feels like you are worlds away from everyone else. That’s when your love shines through in photographs — when it feels like it’s just the two of you. There’s nothing more romantic than that.


52 Tips to Make Your Photo Session Go from being Average to Amazing!

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Dorota Jamal

Cancun Wedding Photographer at Life Wonders Photography
I am a Mexico destination wedding photographer and I will ensure you look your best in your wedding photos by creating a fun and relaxed atmosphere during our photo shoots.

Based out of Cancun & Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya Mexico, Dorota has extensive experience of photographing weddings at exotic locations like Mexico, Bali, India, and South Africa.
Dorota was a wedding photographer in San Diego, California and brings this modern photography style and personalized service to Mexico.

She can be reached at