As a wedding photographer, I see a lot of couples pick their wedding venues for the price, location, and overall style that the wedding venue offers, but rarely do they consider whether they will get great pictures at this venue. So, here’s my expertise on how to book a wedding venue.
Don’t Settle for Average
There are certainly a lot of beautiful wedding venues, but when it comes time for your photographer to start shooting, there can be challenges, even for the most highly skilled shooter. Some venues just do not deliver in terms of yielding stunning wedding pictures because they lack the characteristic that are necessary for doing so.
When you first arrive at the venue, you need to enter with a set of very important questions to ask yourself while touring the place.
Lighting is Everything
The absolute 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 that you will need full sunshine because even a cloudy day can produce enough light for gorgeous pictures. If your wedding will be an outdoor evening wedding, then you will need to inquire about what type of lighting the venue offers. This can be in the way of string 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 the artificial light from the other lights. Of course, he or she will also bring their own lighting equipment as well.
When looking at indoor banquet style rooms, pay attention to the amount of windows that are in the room. Some event rooms offer floor to ceiling windows that allow for a lot of natural light to come in.
You will also want to look at the lighting in the dressing areas, the ceremony space, especially if it is at a church or other place of worship, and the surrounding areas around the venue where you will be taking wedding and couple portraits. Is there enough light in those places? You may see an amazing backdrop outside for pictures, but if your wedding will be in the evening, your photographer will have to rely on external flash units which may not bring out the background as much as you would like.
It’s a Numbers Game
You will also want to ask yourself if there are a number of different spots around the venue, both inside and out where pictures can be taken. 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, but that is it. I recommend choosing venues that have a variety of settings to allow your photographer to be creative.
Cramping Your Style
A third question to think about as your tour the venue is to see if there is 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 to creating great shots.
This the most subjective question you will ask, “Is this place 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 look of the place. 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.
Take a Step Back
To borrow the viral phrase from Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up Netflix show, “Does this bring me joy?” is the very last question you should ask yourself. Take a step back from crunching numbers and checking logistics and just simply ponder if the thought of having your wedding at this place brings genuine thrill and excitement. If it does, this is your place.