Wedding Wednesday: Location, Location, Location...How to Choose the Right Wedding Venue.
Hooray! He finally popped the question! September begins this week, you're wanting to wed in October of next year, NOW is the time to find that perfect venue. Once that venue is selected, everything else falls so easily into place....flowers, colors, table settings, and so on....You find a place that could be "the one", but what if it wasn't? After a few visits, you realize the ceilings too low, there's about 4 feet of dancing space, and one bathroom for all of your 150 guests...You're going to need a bigger boat, so to speak :-).
For your venue, the first thing you want to consider, obviously, is location. Do you want to get married in your hometown or his? Do you want to get married in the city you currently reside in? Do you want to have a destination wedding?
If you get married in your city or your hometown, consider convenience factor for your guests. If you have plenty of elderly guests, you may not want a place that's going to be down a bumpy dirt road or that has a lot of stairs.
If you're going to have alcohol at your event, you may want a place that's in town or close to it to keep your guests from leaving early or driving while intoxicated (if you're not providing shuttles).
For your destination wedding, you may want to consider a resort that's all inclusive where your guests can stay and play while in attendance for your wedding.
The next thing you're going to want to consider is going to be are you wanting to have your ceremony and your reception in the same location? There's obviously the convenience factor; your guests don't have to shuttle from one location to the next, nor do you and a few of your vendors. However, if you have a connection to your (or your grooms) house of worship, whether its current or from your childhood, you absolutely want to get married in it, just go ahead and do it. First off it's your wedding day, you're the one that calls the shots. Secondly, you will second guess yourself in the long run if you do not. Just make sure to communicate to your photographer the rules and requests of your house of worship (can they use flash? where can they go? etc.).
If you end up choosing a venue where you can have the ceremony and reception in the same location, bring your own officiant or religious leader. This way you still have a connection with that house of worship :-).
Now, time to consider the size of the venue. You're obviously going to want a place with enough space for all of your guests, however, there are other factors to consider. Tables....band or DJ setup...bar....buffet....cake or dessert table....gift and sign in table....All of these things do take up space. Even if you do decide on an open-air venue or a venue that's primarily outdoors, you want to ensure there's ample space on the lawn. Some venues keep a basic set up to show potential brides, but some do not. If you can, see if there's a time they can let you peek in when a wedding has been fully set up to establish a sense of size.
Take your time to really envision your wedding in that space. See your guests mingling, your bar set up, your banquet tables and buffet, your band or DJ set up. Think of the shape of the room and the size. Is it big enough to separate into sections for each set of activities or can everything take place in one room? Are there any obscure columns or obstructions that can prevent your guests from seeing your dances, cake cutting or toasts? Remember, if the venue is set up for another wedding, that's their wedding, it's not yours. Yours is going to be vastly different in many many ways. Moreover, it's going to be YOURS, all those details that will be thought of and selected will be yours, not theirs. So if something doesn't look quite right, remember, there will be a difference with your special day.
Other things you're going to want to consider include privacy, as well as lighting, great acoustics, and plenty of parking....but the biggest thing you need to consider with your venues....is a Backup Plan!
You're having an outdoor wedding, you planned everything to the T, it's all perfect, then thunder claps above your head, you see lightening on the horizon, and it's pretty evident it's going to rain. Most venues will can and do have a decent plan of action in case these situations happen, however, there is a slight chance that your venue may not. Always keep this in mind, because you never know what can happen.
Last year, I got the awesome opportunity to document Charles and Timmy's gorgeous wedding in East Texas. Their original plan was to wed at St. Mary's Church in Ellinger and have an outdoor reception at a private estate nearby. Then, Hurricane Patricia blew through. Their wedding day ended up being a downpour, flooding the surrounding area. Timmy, being from the Netherlands, is no stranger to rain. She had several family members who made a trip across the Atlantic for this event, and she was going to show them a good time.
Her squad, made up of her sisters, her mother, and her soon to be mother-in-law came together to find an alternative venue that would not only fit all their guests, their caterer, and their DJ setup. Within a few days, they had found it, The Red and White Gallery in Fayetteville, just a few miles away from their first venue.
Rain or Shine, Timmy Married Charles that day. With her smiling family and friends standing witness. I may have been a little soaked myself, but it was completely worth it to see a Texan make a gorgeous Dutch Girl smile.
That's it for me this week, kids. I'm super excited to see the more weddings coming my way over the next few weeks, and I would love an opportunity to document yours! Take a peek at my page and give me a shout! I'm happy to hear from you!
Owner and Lead Photographer