Choosing a Wedding Venue (a photographer's perspective)

January 06, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

There are some really good articles out there that advise couples about how to choose their venue to match their style, budget, guest's needs etc, but if amazing wedding photographs are important to you (and surely they should be incredibly important on this your wedding day?!!) then what points would we ask you to consider?

Well we've all seen stunning images in designer gardens, by picturesque lakes, on beautiful staircases and captivating beaches... They are a dream to have as a photographic backdrop, but few affordable venues are like that.  A great wedding photographer should be able to get some wonderful images in any location, but some things do make our life a little easier!  Things that you may like to consider...

  • Is there a backdrop for outdoor photos that you want to look at in your album for the rest of your life? It is amazing how many modern hotels offer weddings, yet have been designed purely as business venues. When looking round ask to see where photographers take photos of larger groups? Is there somewhere stunning, pleasant, neutral .. okay we will settle for not cluttered with bins, air conditioning units and cars. Or is the car park with the doggy bin all you have?

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  • What are the space like for your intimate, couple photos?  This will depend on the style that you want, but if your Pinterest boards are full of romantic portraits of couples surrounded by roses or playing in a maze, perhaps that dark, small-roomed urban hotel is not the venue for you. The more varied the internal and external spaces, the more... well you get our drift.


  • Season is also important.  Weddings are such emotional things (thankfully for us), but it is so easy to fall in love with the colourful rhodendrum walk on a venue's website, book quickly in excitement and not give thought to the fact that there are no flowers there in December. We would strongly suggest you visit a venue at the same time of year as you want to get married there.


  • Timings are also connected.  Now we can take 'formals' after dark, but please don't choose a venue because you are dreaming of group shots around the lake at sunset and then book a 3pm wedding in November and come out of the ceremony in darkness.   Another little thought is the travel times to your venue on the day... when there is a football match in town... or in that beautiful, classic car that will take twice as long as the journey you timed in your modern one... And now the staff want to rush you into your wedding meal and the time for daylight group photos has gone...


  • Light is what photography is all about.  Experienced photographers use a variety of lighting sources and can light capably in most situations, but natural light is a photographer's best friend and good light means less reliance on equipment. What are the lighting levels in the main room(s)?  If the lighting is harsh, unflattering or strongly coloured?  If so you might want to organise some better lighting or a different room orientation.


  • How will the décor, colours and furniture, pieces of art in your venue affect the style or look of photos? Ask someone to stand at key places in the rooms and look at what would be included in photographs. If all you can see is lamps out of heads, peeling wallpaper or a messy storage yard outside etc, consider if this really is the place for you?  And please think carefully about the bright red carpet that venues seem so fond of in the ceremony room, especially if you are having a bright pink or turquoise colour scheme? Just say no! ;-)


  • Is there appropriate heat or air conditioning?  Is there a 'backup' space if all of a sudden it starts to rain? Guests that are too hot or too cold, are often reluctant to be photographed.


  • Don’t forget that room capacities include everyone in your ceremony, not just your guests. Make sure there is room (both numerically and physically) for your celebrants, photographer and musicians.  Even babies can count in the numbers at some restricted venues.


  • Ask how many weddings are they hosting on the same day.  If you are not the only wedding, how do they manage the spaces most likely to be used for photographs? Do they have any construction or landscape work planned before or during(!) your wedding?


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  • Is there easy access for less physically able guests? Ask about their access facilities throughout the building. Consider what it will mean (think about the route) to food, the ceremony and THE PHOTOS.  Dignity is important to everyone! Is cousin Jane going to feel comfortable being carried through the staff changing rooms to get to her wheelchair on the patio or de-valued by being missed out and 'left behind'?


  • Can confetti be thrown?  If so, are there restrictions on where and what type?


  • Candles add so much atmosphere, but what is the venue's policy? Are naked flames allowed?


  • If you are planning 'something different' and we LOVE different.. please check with the venue before you book them.  Fireworks, hot air balloon departures, candle lanterns on the lake are all beautiful... if they are allowed.  If they are, please don't forget to tell your photographer BEFORE the day!!!


  • Entertainment like bouncy castles, sweet stalls and cycling ice cream sellers are all brilliant additions, but again, please check.. including public liability insurance.


  • Is there a room for just you two that you can use throughout the day? Not only to have 5 mins out, but to also freshen up?

Once your venue has been chosen - please be open to your photographer's ideas.  We see scenes in terms of things like light, perspective, depth of focus and other geeky stuff... but that's what creates the magic and separates picture takers from professional photographers.

At the end of the day, experienced professional photographers will always find a way of creating something good in any space.


For our Unique As You Wedding Guide, click here:


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