What to Look for in a Wedding Venue
When you’re shopping around for a wedding venue, there are some pretty big things that come to mind right off the bat. Is it big enough to accommodate all my guests? Does it have the look and feel we’re going for? And is the price right? These are all SUPER important questions for any bride, and definitely should be at the top of your list when wedding venue shopping. But, if you’re like me, and already planning your photos, there are a few more questions you should consider when looking at potential venues to help ensure your wedding photos are everything you dreamed they would be.
The Getting Ready Space
Getting ready is a huge part of a brides wedding day! You’ve probably thought about making sure the room has enough space to accommodate you and all your bridesmaids getting their hair and make up done, but there are a few other things you should consider as well. The number one thing is light. My favorite kind of getting ready space has lots of natural light, usually from big windows. Natural light is the most flattering for when you’re getting ready, and can also be very soft and romantic. If the getting ready space at your wedding venue doesn’t have any windows, that doesn’t mean that venue is out! Just consider getting ready at a hotel or someone’s house that will have that natural light.
Other key thing to be on the lookout for your getting ready space is a background that’s simple. There’s typically a LOT going on when a bride is getting ready, so things like artwork on the walls, or lots of décor knick-knacks can be distracting. Look for a clean, clutter free backdrop for your photos!
Obviously, the most important part of your wedding day is the ceremony. That’s no secret! And a lot of what to look for in a ceremony location depends on what style and feel you’re going for. So keep those things in mind first and foremost, but one other key thing to pay attention to is lighting. If you’re having a sunset wedding, and your guests are facing east, chances are, you and your groom are going to be in full sun during your I do’s. For a lot of reasons, this isn’t ideal for photos. One, being lit in full sun will cast shadows across your face, and make it harder to capture the full emotion of the moments. Also, the light will be much harsher, so if you’re looking for a soft romantic feel, find a west facing ceremony location.
Another thing to think about is space. One of the key things that helps me capture all the different aspects and moments of your ceremony is room to move! I don’t ever want to be a distraction during your wedding ceremony, I prefer to sneak around in the back like some sort of photography ninja, so aisles on each side will help me get more variety in your wedding ceremony images. My general rule of thumb is to keep to the side and back of the ceremony location and never walk in front of someone. Wander around the whole ceremony space when you’re wedding venue hunting. Ask the coordinator where the chairs will end on each side and see if there’s enough room for a photo ninja to creep through!
Shupe Homestead is a great example of this! They have a huge ceremony space, big enough to accommodate any size wedding and allow room for photographers to capture your ceremony from any angle!
This is probably the most important part when it comes to your wedding portraits. Family photos, bridal party, and photos of the two of you will all take place on the ground of your wedding venue (duh) so making sure we have a good area for that is key! If you’re having your ceremony at one location and reception at another, we have a little bit more flexibility, because we can choose an in between location for portraits. If that’s the case for you and you don’t even know where to start with choosing a portrait location, that’s ok! Just ask and I’ll help you find the perfect spot!
If your wedding day is taking place all at one spot then we’ll most likely stay there for photos, so keep an eye out for some of these things when wedding venue shopping!
1. Variety – Look for venues that have a variety of backgrounds and areas for photos. One of my favorite examples of this is Brookside Gardens. They have a trellis covered in flowers, an aspen tree grove, a waterfall, a barn, and a field all in the same wedding venue! There are SO many options there you’ll love the variety in your images.
2. Space – This is especially important if you have a large family or bridal party. We need enough space to fit all those people into one photo so you can still see everyone! Look for one or two wide open areas at your wedding venue with nice backgrounds that you would like for family photos. Sometimes that could even be the ceremony space, too.
3. Vibe – This is probably a given, but make sure the wedding venue you’re looking at has the vibe, feel, and style that you want for your wedding! It will be the background for most, if not all, of your wedding photos and definitely plays a huge role in setting the tone for your wedding day.
When it comes time for you and your guests to start celebrating, there are a few things to think about to make sure we capture all the fun!
If you know your guests are going to dance the night away, the biggest thing is to have ample space on the dance floor, so I can weave in and out and capture all their rock star dance moves. Some venues will suggest removing tables when it comes time for dancing to ensure you have a big enough area, and I am all for that! They’re total pros who can get those tables down and out of sight in mere minutes, and it’s totally worth having enough space for everyone to jam!
Another key aspect to your reception space is lighting. You’re probably going to want the lights turned down for most of the evening, and I’m all for that! But nothing makes a reception area look better than some sort of decorative lighting. Whether it’s up-lighting on the walls, string lights hanging over head, or candles everywhere, you would be surprised how much of a difference lighting can make in your photos! Don’t underestimate the lighting that your DJ can provide too, though I always suggest leaving those colored changing lights off until after the formal dances are done. Nothing ruins a romantic first dance photo more than red laser beams looking like a monster case of chicken pox all over the two of you.
The Chateaux at Fox Meadows is an excellent example of beautiful reception lighting. Here they combined up-lighting on the walls (which you can’t see, but is definitely contributing to this photo), string lights, and a chandelier which all worked together to help me capture images like this.
To read more about some of my favorite wedding venues in Colorado click here!
Melissa Sue Photography is an award winning Colorado and Destination wedding photographer who specializes in wedding and engagement photography. Melissa is based in Denver, Colorado but travels worldwide, capturing local and destination weddings all over the globe.
I can’t wait to hear from you!