As outdoor and adventure wedding photographers we capture couples in the beautiful places they chose to get married. Our style of photography has a big focus on the environment, the setting our brides and grooms celebrate their love. Location, location, location. We love capturing couples surrounded by the magnificent beauty of nature on a defining day in their relationship. Because of this, we happen to love the topic of finding the perfect wedding venue. Where will you decide to tie the knot? What is the backdrop for your big day? This can be a big decision for couples as the options are endless. Let us help you tackle what is often the first step of your wedding planning.
when and where:
If you are early in the wedding planning stages, one of your biggest questions right now is when and where. This is often the decision that will get all of the other ones rolling. For some people the when comes first, they already have an anniversary date they would like to keep or a season they want their wedding to take place in. For others the where comes first, they want a location that takes their breath away or to get married somewhere that has special meaning to them. If you care about when, then you might have to compromise on the where due to availability. If you care about where, then you might need to be flexible on the date and see what the venue has available. If you care about both, then hopefully you’re planning in advance because unfortunately a lot of venues book up quickly.
define your wedding venue style:
Once you’ve thought a little about the significance of when and where it’s time to think more specifically about the venue. If you haven’t already, download our free guide: how to prioritize your planning. You’ll find the exercises helpful in staying on track with the rest of your decisions. In defining your style, you’ll be able to set your deal breakers when you start to research venues. For example, if “laid-back” is high on your list then picking a venue that requires a lot of hand-ons planning might not be a fit for you. Here are some keywords to get you started, choose your favorites and add to the list, then prioritize:
outdoor, indoor, intimate, convenient, unique, rustic, adventurous, natural, elegant, laid-back, fun, vintage, eclectic, timeless, memorable, mountain, ballroom, city, DIY, picturesque, breath-taking, memorable
Essentially what is the feel of the venue you’re searching for? What is the experience you want to create for your guests and the memories you want them to have?
begin your search
The next question is often, is the venue within your budget? To answer this you’ll actually need to know about extra fees and expenses that may or may not come with venue costs. Some venues are all inclusive while others are more customizable making it hard to compare apples to apples. Do you want the convenience of a venue that has everything or the customizability of one that allows you more freedoms? Keep that in mind as you begin to search for a venue that fits your keywords above. Use the venue websites or google images to see if the overall look is what you want and then dive deeper into the details.
Once you find a few venues you like based on their website or images you’ve seen online, begin to look closer at the details. If their website is informative you may be able to get a lot of your questions answered quickly. Either way, shoot them an email asking what their availability is and if they have an info packet. Sometimes you can learn a lot by how responsive and helpful they are. You’re investigation phase will require analyzing some details, narrowing down a few options, and then conducting site visits, if possible, to make sure what you see matches your expectations.
a. the details – It’s time to start a spreadsheet!
When you find a venue you like you need to analyze a few factors and see if any of them are deal breakers. Many venues have extra fees or strict rules. Here are some important ones to explore:
- Capacity: Is the space large enough to support your guest list? Are you willing to adjust your guest list to fit the venue?
- Use of Space: Are there strict rules on start and end times? When can you set-up, when does clean-up have to be completed by? Will there be another wedding that day or that weekend? How separate are they? Are there separate areas for the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception?
- Access: How easy is it for your guests to get there? Is there enough parking or is it easy to arrange transportation?
- Inclusions and Exclusions: What is included in your rental fee? If there are things you want that aren’t included then you will we looking at rentals which may impact your budget: lighting, sound system, tables, chairs, linens, clean-up, bartenders.
- Food and Beverages: Is there on-site catering or will you bring in your own? Is alcohol provided through the venue or can you bring your own? These answers may impact both your budget and your options.
You should also evaluate a few other things that may impact how well the venue fits what you are looking for.
- What is your impression of the staff? Are they responsive and helpful? How will their interactions with your guests impact your wedding? Check reviews on google and yelp for help with this one.
- Are you able to personalize the space to your satisfaction or is it fine as is?
b. conduct a site visit – Keep your options open.
You may think you know your first choice based on your research but a site visit can make a huge difference. Sometimes you have to leave room for what feels right when you walk into a venue. Something you thought was a deal-breaker may suddenly seem less consequential. Visit a few different options that made your list, the venue is the setting for your big day so your final decision might just be made by how it feels to be there.
bonus tip: Make a note to tell you photographer why you chose your wedding venue. We love to know how the setting for your big day makes you feel. It allows us to capture it in a way that tells your story and reminds you of those feelings as you look back.
We hope the tips above helped you think about how to find your perfect wedding venue. Be sure to check our more wedding photography advice posts to assist in your wedding planning. Next time we’ll discuss finding other wedding vendors to fit your style. If there are questions you have or tips you are looking for, don’t hesitate to get in touch or comment below with how we can help!
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We are Marc and Brenda Bergreen, a husband and wife photography team specializing in outdoor weddings and other adventures. As Colorado adventure wedding photographers we’re here to help you plan and capture your ideal mountain wedding. We also frequently travel to California and other wedding destinations to document your love in a variety of memorable settings. Don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know how we can help! Be sure to follow us (weddings instagram & adventures instagram) and/or like us (facebook) to stay tuned. In the meantime, remember to…