Choosing Your Wedding Venue!

So you are embarking on one of THE most exciting parts, and likely the most expensive part of planning your wedding day! Choosing your wedding venue!

Perhaps you have been dreaming of this day and know exactly where you want to be! Or perhaps your page is blank and you have several viewings booked! Either way, this decision is a biggy! It is going to set the tone of your special day and every decision you make will revert back to your chosen venue! What flowers will complement the decor, should I go for a traditional wedding gown or one to suit a more rustic barn venue – the list goes on. As a professional international wedding photographer with more than 10 years of experience, I have seen a fair few venues in my time! But I see the venue very differently from a couple choosing the place in which they will celebrate their love for each other. Of course, I don’t expect couples to choose their venue based on the things we photographers may see, but here are a few things to consider to ensure you get the best out of your wedding venue, from the perspective of a Wedding Photographer.

1: Look for Natural Light Sources When Choosing Your Wedding Venue

Natural light without a shadow of a doubt makes for the perfect light and we photographers are born light chasers. But a wedding day isn’t a controlled environment and we photographers must be experienced with the ever-changing lighting conditions here in the UK, and make the most of what we have.

There is nothing more gut-wrenching than a couple who viewed their winter wedding venue in full summer sunlight, only to find that it’s grey and dark on their actual day!

Now please don’t worry if you have a dark wedding venue, our experience and equipment will come into their own under these circumstances – I promise. However, if you are yet to choose, pay attention to the light.

Top tip! When choosing your wedding venue and viewing your ceremony location, aim to view it around the time of your preferred wedding ceremony time and at the time of year you are booking ie – summer or winter. Pay attention to where the light is coming from in relation to where you will stand at the altar. Does it come from the front? Fall in from the sides, artificial light or is the main light source coming from behind you?   The most difficult lighting condition for your photographer in this scenario is backlight (so you are standing in front of the light source (ie window) or artificial light.

2: Decor

Fallen in love with a stately home? They are some of my favourite venues! However, pay attention to the colour of the walls and carpets in the key locations. (Ceremony room and wedding breakfast.)

These walls will give off a colour cast in your photographs. For example, A while ago I shot a wedding at a stunningly beautiful old manor house but the ceremony room had large warm white (yellowish) artificial lights, yellow/gold walls, and a red carpet. Most of the time these corrections can be made in post-processing but sometimes they just can’t be edited out. Top Tip! When choosing your wedding venue, neutral decor is a photographer’s preferred and recommended backdrop, but if vibrant decor can’t be avoided look for plenty of natural light sources (windows, etc)

3: Aim to view your venue at the time of year you will actually be getting married!

I know I have mentioned this above but it really is a biggy!

If you are having a 3 pm ceremony and you view your venue in August, it will look TOTALLY different at 3 pm on your December wedding day!

Winter weddings are renowned for the most challenging lighting conditions because of the limited hours of daylight. So if you are having a winter wedding, make sure you have your ceremony earlier in the day. I could talk all day about winter weddings but I will save it for another blog!

4: Getting Ready Room

When choosing your room for Bridal Preparations, again look for plenty of natural light sources. Choose somewhere spacious where you can move around with ease. Also, a room with reasonable hidden storage is useful so that you can store your belongings. This ensures that the room is tidy and airy for photographs. Top Tip! Consider where you will have your hair and makeup done. Have a chat with your “glam team” and discuss where you will set up. You will likely have already chosen your location before your photographer arrives and makeup artists don’t usually appreciate being asked to move. If you can face a window, this is perfect! 

5: Ask the venue coordinator where group photographs and portraits can be taken in the event of a rainy day.

Another big one that isn’t always considered at the point of choosing your wedding venue! In the event of rain, we will need a wet weather plan and this will include some indoor locations for your group photographs and possibly your portraits. There are no two ways about it, rain (although said to be good luck) is usually disappointing for a couple. Most of the time, we can get outdoors during a dry spell! But if it rains consistently on your big day and we have to do the photos indoors, we want to ensure they are the best they can be! Consider all of the above when looking at indoor photo opportunities and remember the 5 P’s when planning your wedding; Perfect Planning Prevents Poor Performance!  I hope this has proven useful to you! Here are a few photographs from some of my favourite venues to offer some inspiration when choosing yours! Happy Planning! Phil