I can’t tell you how many times this has happened…
Long story short, a couple goes venue shopping and they end up investing an above-average percentage of their all-in wedding budget on a venue, only to not want to use it for any photo taking… tell me what sense does that make?!
The venue you book for your wedding serves as so much more than just a space to host your guests, it is the background in every single photo that’s taken, and furthermore, the space where you’re making all your wedding day memories. All the happy tears, the laughs, the hugs, the heart-to-heart conversations, the reunion of friends and family members, the late-night drinks, the dance party – all of it happens here. This is all the more reason as to why it’s so important that you seek out a venue with intention.
Shopping for a wedding venue can be a daunting task. There are so many things to keep at the forefront of your minds when venue shopping – trust me. I’ve been there! There’s a lot to take into consideration, lots of questions needing to be answered, and it’s the most overwhelming part of the whole planning process as this decision determines your date, it’s the first biggest investment you make out of your wedding budget, and ultimately, where all the magic is going to happen as we mentioned earlier.
Something to be seriously mindful of, is to know what your inspiration, vision, and desired style of your wedding is. What is your color palette? What textures speak to you? Do you envision being indoors or outdoors? Those are only a few of the many questions pertaining to this part of the process! But knowing the general “vibe” you’re aiming for, helps even more so when shopping for a venue. With every venue you consider, you have to go the extra step mentally, and actually envision what your day would look like in a setting such as. Does it compliment the design, colors, textures, and other elements you have in mind? Or does it go against the grain? Is the space neutral and versatile, and will work well with what design you’re aiming for? Is the venue the type of space that is just the “bones”, and going to require you to have a larger budget for decor, florals, rentals, and more potentially?
As we already mentioned, there’s a lot to take into consideration! With so many options available, it can be challenging to know where to start. However, there are a few important things to consider when shopping for a wedding venue that will help you narrow down your options to find the perfect location for your special day, that will be the best decision for all of the above, as well as your photos. A venue that will truly serve you in every way it’s supposed to, like it’s the best of both worlds.
While some questions of the following may seem general, I promise that taking all these factors into consideration will directly impact your photos, but beyond that, your entire wedding experience. Here is what you need to ask yourself and the venue you’re considering prior to booking and making any concrete decisions!
First and foremost before you do anything, you need to consider your budget. I know it’s so easy to get caught up in the thrill of wedding planning – venue shopping is number one on your list! But you’re only going to get your heart broken and waste your time by inquiring, communicating, and even going as far as touring a venue that’s outside of your budget. It’s essential to have a clear idea of how much you can afford to spend on your wedding venue before you start your search. Knowing your budget will help you avoid falling in love with a venue that is out of your price range and will also help you prioritize the aspects of the venue that are most important to you.
Next, make a guest list! Before you can accurately shop for venues that are within your budget, you need to know the absolute maximum amount of guests your venue needs to be able to accommodate! More people means more space, more space means more money. It’s important to choose a venue that has a maximum capacity that can comfortably accommodate all of your guests. Too small of a venue can leave your guests feeling crowded and uncomfortable, while a venue that is too large can feel empty and impersonal.
Location is also an important factor to consider when shopping for a wedding venue. For example, if you love modern industrial spaces in the city at an indoor venue, it’s important to understand that most of your portraits, (the couple together and individually, as well as the wedding party group), will be shot outside in the surrounding areas of your venue – this is because most indoor venues don’t always get enough natural light for formal portraits! So you’ll have to consider what is on the exterior of your indoor city venue. If you only love the venue for what’s on the inside, you may want to consider alternative photo locations that are in proximity to the venue itself! Remember, it’s okay to go this route! All this means for you on your wedding day, is that you’ll have to cut out time in your timeline to accommodate taking photos off-site from your venue!
We briefly just mentioned natural lighting, but now let’s dive in further. When choosing a wedding venue, consider the lighting, the architecture, and the surroundings. A venue with natural light and beautiful scenery will essentially be the background of all your photos! It’s so important that you love the physical space, because again, it’s the background of all your photos. If you’re considering a venue that has visible eyesores or distractions in the distance, I’m not insinuating that you shouldn’t move forward with booking that space, but I am suggesting you be mindful that those things are going to be visible in your photos. If those things happen to be things that don’t bother you, that’s totally fine! But if they are, I’d recommend looking elsewhere!
If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, it’s important to consider the time of year you’re getting married. The season has a huge impact on the weather conditions! So if your desired wedding date is considered to be during the time of year that the weather is questionable, make sure your potential outdoor venue has an alternative space as a backup plan! Not only make sure there is a backup plan or covered space, but make sure that covered space is one you’d be happy to have all your photos at in the event of an absolute worst case scenario! Also remember, that rain isn’t the only weather condition I’m referring to. Extreme heat temperatures can also be negatively impactful and cause natural disasters that would prevent you from being able to be outdoors. It happens all the time, trust me!
With outdoor venues come wide open spaces that get harsh lighting mid-day. As an editorial photographer, I’m a lover of harsh light, but not everyone is. I’d recommend asking your potential venue what position the sun is in at the time of day you’re considering for your ceremony and any formal portraits. That way you’ll know what your options are for not just photo-taking spots, but layouts of floorplan that will also impact other design choices!
To expand on lighting, it’s important to understand that not all venues get a golden hour. Golden hour is one of the most popular and highly desired times of day to take portraits. Rightfully so, it’s dreamy, glowy, romantic, and so much more! But if your potential venue is one that doesn’t get a golden hour and those photos are a big priority to you, be mindful that you may need to consider going off-site for these portraits. Or, be willing to let go of this potential contender and move on to the next one!
In conclusion, your wedding venue is a crucial aspect of your special day. Not only does it set the tone for your ceremony and reception, but it also plays a significant role in your wedding photos. By choosing a venue with beautiful surroundings, natural light, and elegant architecture, you are ensuring that all of the above will make for a unique and personal wedding experience, but also that your wedding photos will be a permanent and cherished reminder of your special day!
Happy venue shopping! I hope this helps!