Jo Wheeler - Photographer
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Tips - choosing a wedding venue

Hints and tips for selecting your wedding venue.

With years of experience of photographing weddings in many locations, I think I know what makes a fabulous wedding photograph and that is a fabulous venue: whether it's for your Vows and Wedding Breakfast or just your Wedding Breakfast, here are a few things you should consider when you start looking at venues.


Budget

The cost has a part to play when considering which venue you would like to hire for your wedding day.

You must set a budget for your day. Set yourself a maximum and minimum spend amount for your venue. If you hire your venue for less than you budgeted for, you can consider increasing your budget in other areas, such as flowers or decorations.

If you are paying for your own wedding, give yourself enough time to save towards it. It might be hard, but once you set a budget, you must do your best to stay within it.


Time of year

This will play a big part in what might be available and what it might cost. Late autumn, winter and early spring are all less popular times for weddings which means that some venues may offer a discount if you book out of season. Sought after wedding venues during the summer months, get booked up years in advance.

It has become increasingly prevalent for weddings to take place during the week. Friday is clearly a popular choice, but if you have a tight budget why not consider a day earlier in the week?

If you do decide on a weekday ceremony, give your guests as much warning as possible so they can organise time off from work. It is also worth considering that if you do have a summer wedding, some of your guests might have plans to be away on holiday, so let people know the date as soon as you can.

The Limes, Solihull Wedding photographerIf you are considering a wedding out of season, consider choosing a venue that has a large, but lovely inside space as even if the day is bright and dry, it might still be cold - not ideal if you have little ones or older relatives.

Large inside or outside space is a must to allow your wedding photographer to get all of the bridal party into a group picture. Also consider suitable areas where the photographer can photograph the wedding couple in some intimate pictures or more formal larger group shots.

Light (or more importantly, lack of it) is a really big issue for photographers. Yes, we can use a flash, but these can sometimes create shadows and can sometimes be less flattering than natural light. If you can find a venue that has great light at any time of the year, your photographer will love you for it.

A beautiful backdrop with natural light will make a difference in how your wedding photos turn out. That said, there has recently been a trend for photos that are dark and moody - if these are the kind of pictures you think you want, bright summer light does not need to be a consideration (although a faster shutter speed reduces the amount of light, so even in summer months, dark and moody pictures are possible).

Outside space considerations: If you are considering a wedding in late spring, summer or early autumn, then consider venues that have lovely outside areas. This should ideally have some shade: again those little ones and elderly relatives don't want to be out in the high hot summer sun for too long.

Some outside shade also helps reduce everybody squinting in bright sunlight.

My biggest recommendation would be to visit your venue (if you can) at the same time of year to the date you want to get married. Also, go at the same time of day you think your ceremony might be. This will allow you to see where the sun is and where the shade is. It will also allow you to consider where you might have your pictures if the weather isn't kind. Your photographer will have to consider this but if it's already been thought about beforehand, it is one less worry.


Other general considerations

If the location of where you say your vows is some distance from where you want to have your wedding breakfast, is it within easy travelling distance?

Can the people who don't drive get to both locations with ease or will they need to sort out lifts with other family or friends?

Once at the venue, is there enough car parking for all your guests?

Is the venue serviced by a local taxi service?

The Limes Country Lodge Hotel wedding photographyIf your venue is in a town centre location with limited parking, be sure to tell your guests where they can park and if they need lots of spare change for any parking (though I imagine most parking machines take cards these days).

This may sound like a strange consideration, but if you are planning on having a wedding dress with a long train or you think you might have a long veil, try to find a venue with a great set of stairs, or somewhere you can show off your dress to its best effect.

Another thing to consider is how many guests you are planning to invite. Most venues have restrictions on how many they can comfortably seat.

Picking a great venue to celebrate your wedding is an important decision and if you want any advice on anything, even before you book your wedding, then please get in touch.