Finding the perfect venue for your wedding can be a daunting task! Whenever I first talk to couples regarding their photography requirements the conversation always starts with the number of venues they looked at prior to booking me, what they liked and why they didn’t like certain wedding locations. As a leading photographer in this area, I’ve seen and heard pretty much everything about the good and the bad. So how about a few things to look out for and perhaps avoid some minor disappointments on the day?
Too big too small?
Perhaps one of the main considerations is the size of the venue. Will it have enough capacity to host everyone or conversely will the size dwarf your group and make the wedding look empty? One factor is whether a venue is too big. As strange as it may sound I’ve been to some venues where the guests have so much space to roam it’s as if the venue has emptied out completely! From a photographer’s perspective it’s always nice to have a few areas free of guests for portraits but also to have everyone relatively close by too.
Enough Breakout areas?
Some venues are simply one hall affairs leaving nowhere to go during room turnarounds. It’s always a great idea to make sure the venue has enough breakout areas with sofas and places for people to chat away from the main proceedings.
Adequate photography locations?
Although rare these days as I tend to hired for some incredible locations, its always a good idea to assess possible photography locations especially if stunning wedding portraits are important to you. A great photographer can make any wedding look stunning, but sometimes even the aspect of the venue can create a few issues for photography such as full sun. I’ve been to some venues which simply were not suitable as winter wedding venues (a small ceremony area surrounded by flooded muddy fields on a drizzly winters day may not be everyone’s idea of cosy).
Exclusivity – non-wedding guests?
I hate photo-shopping them out and you’ll hate them roaming into your wedding – non-wedding guests can be a nuisance and even pester the Bride & Groom for photos! Some locations will have multiple weddings going on at the same time and if managed well this shouldn’t be a problem, but if this worries you check what procedures your venue has in place.
I’ve photographed some venues which are actually major tourist attractions meaning the wedding can’t start until after public visitor closing times. This isn’t always a problem but can cause the wedding to be evening centred and a little rushed. If your dream wedding day is based on lots of leisurely conversation with guests then maybe a venue which can accomodate an all day wedding with an earlier start will suit you better?
Cost of drinks – corkage fees and choice
More and more couples want a great food and drink choice for their guests. Always check the corkage fees and how much the venue charges for a licensed bar – no one wants their guests to have to sneak off to their room for a cheeky top up 😉 Does the venue charge for disposal and glass collection – what will be included in your drinks package?
Is there a curfew or are there noise restrictions
Wedding venues need to comply with their local licensing conditions, it may be that they have an early curfew or have to limit noise – this is especially the case in built up areas or country venues close to other properties. Bear in mind local residents may be strongly opposed to the local wedding venue next door and will be all too keen to complain if given half a chance. There could also be other restrictions such as fireworks etc.
Will your guests bring lots of children – wii the venue be safe for them?
If you are planning on have a number of children at the wedding will there be enough things for the children to do? Is the venue close to a main road? Many couples tell me their wedding venue choice was partly based on the fact that their guests with young children need to be able to relax and have somewhere the children can play around freely yet still be contained
What’s included such as VAT?
Hiring a venue may have a number of unseen costs. It’s easy to have a bit of a shock if VAT hasn’t yet been added to the quotation so always check any additional charges, especially for clearing up and disposal.
Before hiring any suppliers to work on site such as myself as a photographer, check what insurance requirements there are at the venue and the implications for your suppliers. It’s not uncommon as a photographer to be have to show evidence of public liability insurance before I can work at a venue (in some cases this can be as much as £5m!).
Lighting after dark and outside/seasonal variations
Viewing a winter wedding venue in mid-summer may give you the wrong impression. Check for images of your wedding venue in winter online so you can get a good idea what it will look like. I’ve photographed many stunning venues in late Autumn when it’s mild enough to be outside yet the venue has inadequate lighting outside – imagine all your guests in pitch black!
The quality of food can vary dramatically at a wedding from luke warm budget carvery style to high end fine dining! (and when I’m lucky I get to sample it all too 🙂 f possible attend the venue’s open days where you can sample the menu or check out the feedback from other couples or reviews. Food and service tends to be the biggest grumble of wedding guests, especially if special dietary requests haven’t been taken into account.