Tori and Dan’s wedding day was one for the books, complete with warm sunshine, a romantic first kiss, a beautiful venue, and celebratory dancing. Tori even wrote and recorded a song for the dance with her dad. All in all, it was picture perfect!
How to Find the Perfect Wedding Venue
Looking for the perfect wedding venue? Consider these unique situations before making your final decision:
Ceremony & Reception Spaces
Many wedding venues have multiple options for ceremony and reception areas. Remember that capacity alone shouldn’t determine the space—also consider your plan, setup, transitions, and activities. Ideally, you don’t want guests to trek very far to get to the locations. Imagine the spaces filled with people. You want to be able to move around freely (and for your photographers to have adequate space to get good coverage).
Another thing to keep in mind is the weather and time of year. An al fresco rooftop is gorgeous for cocktail hour, and I love a laid-back reception with a firepit and backyard games! But having an indoor option to escape the summer heat (or an unexpected rain shower) is always a good idea—just in case!
Getting Ready Space
Many couples are surprised that some of their favorite photos from the day were when they were getting ready! It’s not every day that you get together with your closest friends and family members, so these intimate and fun photos can be extra special.
From a photographer’s perspective, I love a bright, spacious area with windows to let in some natural light. Consider your wedding party so everyone has plenty of space and you aren’t on top of each other. It can get stuffy in a crowded room, which isn’t ideal with hot styling tools. You don’t want your fresh makeup to melt off!
These ladies got ready at home (which was beautiful), and the venue had a really cool bar area downstairs they opened up for the guys. Both spaces were perfect!
Photo Backdrop Variety
Finding a wedding venue with room to spread out isn’t just for photo variety (although that is a huge plus). As a couple, you’ll want space to be together without your guests right next to you all day. The more room we have to explore and take photos, the more relaxed you’ll feel.
If you’re doing a first look, take note of a few areas that would be good for that, too.
Venue Rules & Restrictions
Every venue has its rules and protocols to keep everyone safe and ensure their venue stays in good condition. For instance, most don’t allow the use of nails or screws to hang décor, and some indoor spaces don’t allow real flower petals. However, some venues have more options and flexibility than others. Consider your design (and check with your photographer, please!) to make sure the venue’s policies work with your plan ahead of time so you aren’t scrambling on your wedding day.
Transition Space & Time
The fewer transitions, the better! Moving your wedding party (or entire guest list) takes up time. To maximize your venue package and photography coverage, consider an all-inclusive venue where you have the ceremony and reception. Plan for commute time if you do have two separate locations. Once everyone is at the reception, try to keep everyone in the same space for dining and dancing.
Setup & Take Down
The best-case scenario is finding a wedding venue that does both and you’re just responsible for décor and coordinating vendors. But, if you are in charge of set up and take down, account for those in your schedule so you have adequate time without feeling rushed.
Check with the venue to see when you can start setting up and when you have to wrap up for the night. (Now and then, I run into a venue, such as in a residential area, with a very early curfew.)
Lighting for Ceremony & Reception
Ambiance is everything—but so are great photos from the best day of your life! Don’t forget to chat with your photographer when planning the lighting situation for the ceremony and reception.
Lighting is crucial to photography style. I love me some flash photography, but you just can’t create bright and colorful photos in a dark room. Moody, edgy, and vintage, I can do! Let me know what you want upfront so we can make sure you get the photos you envision, considering the location and lighting.
For this wedding venue, I loved that the reception dance floor was bright enough not to use the flash, and the fairy lights were lovely for the night photos! Throughout the day, we were able to get a good mix of bright outdoor landscape portraits, romantic evening photos, and of course, lots of wild dance floor shots!
Hanna Walkowaik | SoCal Wedding Photographer
As a dedicated wedding photographer based in Southern California, I’m here to help you with all things wedding! Get in touch with me here for more information.
Wedding Vendor Team
Photography // @hannawalkowaik
Planner // Kate
Hair // @meraki_artisanhairdesign
Makeup // @marissas_makeuplan
Cake // @nothingbundtcakes
Floral // Town & Country Gardens
Caterer // Fishermen’s Inn
Ceremony Site // Fishermen’s Inn
Reception Site // Fishermen’s Inn
Officiant // Dave Angle
Music/DJ // @soundsaboundtonyho
Brides Dress Designer + Shop // @weddingdesignstudiochicago
Grooms Suit Designer + Shop // @menswearhouse
Brides People Attire // @davidsbridal
Grooms People Attire // @menswearhouse
Invitation // @zazzle
Videographer // @tolman.media