As a wedding photographer, I see many couples pick their wedding venue for the price, location, and overall style that the wedding venue offers, but rarely do they consider whether the venue is great for pictures. If you’re not a professional photographer, you won’t know what to look for when touring a venue. Here are my top six tips for choosing the best venue for wedding photos:
The first question you need to ask yourself is, “Does this venue have a lot of natural light?”
Obviously, if you are planning an outdoor daylight wedding, then you should be ok here. Don’t think you will need full sunshine either because shaded areas will produce enough light, and a skilled photographer will know how to edit them to be gorgeous. If you’re thinking of having an evening wedding outdoors, then you’ll need to ask whether they include café lights, chandeliers, or outdoor lanterns. The ideal lighting for stunning pictures is at sundown, where your photographer can use a combination of natural light and artificial light from the other lights.
When looking at indoor ballrooms, take note if there are any windows. Ideally, you will want floor-to-ceiling windows that allow for a lot of natural light to come in. You’ll also want to look at the lighting in the bride and groom dressing areas, the ceremony space, and the surrounding areas where you’ll be taking wedding and couple portraits. Is there enough light in those places? You may love an amazing outdoor space, but how is it going to look when it’s totally dark out?
Often wedding venues have one or two signature characteristics, such as a wall of windows or a spiral staircase, a beautiful fountain, a pretty courtyard, or a waterfront landscape. I recommend choosing venues that have a variety of settings to allow your photographer to be creative and move from one location to the next to get a variety of backgrounds.
As you tour the venue, you’ll most likely be seeing empty spaces and rooms. You’ll need ample room for your photographer and/or videographer to use external flash units that will be mounted on light stands. Some spaces in dining halls and reception rooms can be very crowded when you add a head table, guest tables, buffet table, a DJ or photo booth, etc. Not having room to move around to get different vantage points can limit your photographer in creating great reception photos.
For the next on tips for choosing the best venue for wedding photos, is the check if the place is pretty or visually appealing. Since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, only you can answer this. You will want to make sure that you and your partner really like the aesthetics of the venue and the surrounding area. Don’t try and talk yourself into liking a place just because the price is right or it’s in the right location. Chances are you will regret it when you see your pictures.
Along the same lines, and to borrow the phrase from Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up Netflix show, “Does this bring you joy?” Take a step back from crunching numbers and checking logistics and simply ponder if the thought of having your wedding at this place brings genuine thrill and excitement. If it doesn’t for a variety of reasons, keep looking. Your lack of enthusiasm will show through in your pictures. It will be worth the wait until you find your perfect wedding venue!