Why hello, engagement season! If you are an official future bride reading this blog post right now, congratulations! Oh, and this one’s for you 😉 I’m sure you have already begun brainstorming ideas for your wedding, but you can’t do too much planning until you have one very important detail locked into place. Your wedding venue. Below I will go over some key points of things to consider before selecting your desired wedding venue, & I hope it will save you some possible headache down the road!
Wedding Venues Can Be Time Sensitive
If you are a bride who has her heart set on getting married during a particular season (fall in particular), you may have to plan on a longer engagement. Fall tends to be the new Spring & Summer, with venues booking out a year or more in advance. Fall dates tend to go quickly so you may want to act sooner than later, or else prepare to be more flexible with your timing and preferences.
With most wedding venues this isn’t an issue, but you will want to check & make sure that you are allowed to get ready on site the day of your wedding. Most venues have a bridal suite made available to the bride and her bridesmaids, but sometimes that isn’t always the case. If the venue does provide a bridal suite, double check that they also allow you to do your hair and makeup on site. Some venues are historic, & they don’t allow electric devices such as blow dryers and curling irons to be plugged in (yes, I’ve heard of this before!) If this is the case, you may have to get ready elsewhere prior to arrival.
In addition you will want to check the allowed arrival time. Does the wedding venue only allow for you to arrive 2 hours prior to your ceremony time? Are they flexible about when you can come and go? Do you have to be out of the bridal suite by a certain time? Who is responsible for clean up? These are all things you should take into consideration before booking a wedding venue, because it could be an inconvenience for you.
Ok, I’m just going to say it. Is the bridal suite pretty? This may not matter to some brides, but when you invest in photography I’m willing to bet that you would like a pretty atmosphere for those getting ready photos 😉 With that being said, there are ways to still create beautiful images even if you do not have a picturesque bridal suite. Is the bridal suite large enough to accompany your bridal party? Most importantly, is it what you had envisioned? How is the lighting? Is there enough window light? When you tour a wedding venue, they should show you the bridal suite prior to booking. If not, don’t hesitate to ask!
As much as we hope for the best case scenario with the weather, sometimes mother nature isn’t so kind to us. If you had your eyes set on a outdoor wedding, be sure to ask what the venue’s rain plan would be if it did happen to rain. Would you be devastated if the rain plan went into place? Is “Plan B” as pretty as “Plan A?” If not, would it matter to you? If the rain plan went into place, does the back up location still provide enough space for your guests? Make sure you find a venue with enough space both inside and out, as well as pretty locations.
Most wedding venues provide a picturesque location, but sometimes they can be located in an area that may make portrait time challenging. When deciding on a venue, keep in mind the space that it provides for your portraits. You know, the photography that you invested so much in 😉 Us wedding photographers have our tricks, but at the same time we aren’t magicians. If you choose a venue that only offers a parking lot, a parking lot may be what you get. Of course that’s worst case scenario, but keep in mind your surroundings when you decide on a wedding venue.
Another thing to consider, let’s say your venue doesn’t have a lot to offer for portrait locations. Is there an area within a short walk or driving distance where we could go instead? I have done this many times with my brides, & it works great (especially if you share a “first look!”). There is a lot of variety that us photographers can grab in a confined space, but if you want more variety this is definitely another option. If you have your heart (or wallet) set on a certain venue, see if you & your photographer can have portrait time at another nearby location. It may require some additional time added into your timeline, but you won’t regret it!
This topic is a no brainer, but when scouting out wedding venues make sure to consider the size. Especially when it comes to the reception space! Take into consideration that you may have some guests attend that did not RSVP, so be sure to allow some extra room for extra tables and chairs. Is there enough room for a dance floor? Will the reception venue feel too crammed with the amount of guests you have on your list? Will it seat everyone comfortably? Also keep in mind that if you plan to hire a band vs a DJ, the bands tend to need more space 😉 My suggestion? Book a wedding venue that has more than enough space in your reception hall for the comfort of your guests.
Some wedding venues offer a room complimentary to the bride and groom for their honeymoon night, while others do not. Or maybe you would rather leave the wedding venue on your honeymoon night & stay elsewhere? One thing you should be sure of is if there are any hotels (or airports) close by to your venue. The last thing you want to do is have a long drive back to your hotel on the night of your wedding. You will also want to keep this in mind for any out of town guests. Do your guests have somewhere close by where they can stay?
Rules & Regulations
Last but not least, make sure you check with the wedding venue about whether they have any specific rules or regulations. Do you have to use their caterer? Some venues only allow you to use all of their vendors when it comes to the DJ, the florist, photographer, etc. It’s usually pretty rare that this is the case, but you should still be made aware of it.
Do you have your heart set on a sparker exit? Some wedding venues do not allow sparklers on their property. I’ve even heard of venues not allowing bird seed to be thrown during the exit. If you must have a sparkler exit to wrap up your magical night, then you may want to consider a different venue. Otherwise you may be looking at bubbles or glow sticks, which can create amazing images too!
“Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope this blog post was helpful as you start scouting out your dream wedding venue. If you wish to learn more about my wedding experience, be sure to contact me here!”