Choosing the right wedding venue can be a bit of a challenge. So many to choose from, each offering something slightly different and then there’s the price.
Of course the obvious questions are:
1. Where is it?
2. Can it accommodate the needs of your big day?
3. How much will it cost?
I’m Angela Fitch and I’m the principal wedding photographer at Angela Fitch Photography. Over the years I’ve found that most guides to choosing a venue cover the obvious, but that’s far from everything. If you’re looking for a wedding venue that will look great in your photographs, you need to think about your photography before booking the venue. As a professional Cotswold wedding photographer I’ve put the following questions together which should give you some idea of what to look for on your venue visits.
1. What backdrop would you prefer for your portraits and group photographs?
a. Rolling hills and fields
b. Pretty urban lanes
c. Leafy gardens of mature trees and colourful borders
d. Classic architecture
e. Easily identifiable landmarks
f. Don’t really mind, it’s the people that matter
2. Where will your wedding cake be placed?
a. By a large window
b. In front of a classic fireplace
c. In a corner and out of harm’s way
d. Is there enough space for you to stand next to it.
e. You’re not having a wedding cake
3. Where will your guests park?
a. In front of the venue
b. In a designated car park at the venue
c. In an area or areas away from the venue
d. Coach transport is being supplied for almost everyone
4. When using more than one venue, what are the distances between each?
a. Do you need to allow extra time for congestion?
b. Do you need to allow extra time for guests to find a hidden gem venue?
c. Are your venues close and easily walked between?
d. You’re only using one venue.
e. Is there easily accessible parking at each of the venues?
5. What happens if it rains?
a. Does the venue offer nice indoor spaces to take your portraits and group photos?
b. Does the venue have large windows that will let in plenty of natural light?
c. Is there outdoor cover and if so how wet or muddy might you get en route?
You may think that pricey and palatial will result in better photographs, but experience tells me that a rustic stone barn in the midst of rolling fields or a village hall surrounded with quaint country cottages can be as stunningly beautiful as the city centre chic of a world class hotel or the tranquility of a medieval castle. It’s your day and you’ll want to do it your way, so take time to weigh up the pros and cons of each of the venues that make it onto your short list before making a commitment.
So, why did I ask those questions?
It was simply to get you thinking like a photographer!
If you asked me the same questions my answers would be:
Question 1 is all about what the photographer sees. We have a beautiful couple and lots of happy family and friends who want to be part of the group photos, now all we need is something good to stand you in front of and whether that’s the rolling Cotswold Hills or the hustle and bustle of Birmingham city centre, it needs to be something that puts you at the centre of the photograph with as few distractions in the background as possible. Your backdrop also needs to be easily walkable from the venue and I mean walkable, possibly, in killer heels!
Question 2 is all about venues that push the cake into a dark corner. Naturally, they want it out of harm’s way, but have they allowed enough space for you to stand next to it and don’t forget the dress, which may be princess, mermaid or another style that demands a little extra room to be seen to it’s full effect. Setting the wedding cake up by a window will benefit from natural light, whereas corners can be dark and some cakes can look squeezed in. Check that your photographer will bring additional lighting to make the most of your cake cutting shots.
Question 3 cars and signage are the bane of any wedding photographer’s life. The couple in the wedding car is a great shot, but the couple standing in front of a line of everyday vehicles and even the caterer’s van just isn’t the same thing at all. Find out where the guests can park and try, if at all possible, to have this away from the main entrance so that your photographs are of you at the venue, not you in the venue’s car park!
Question 4 whilst it’s great to get ready at home, then drive in a classy limo to the church or register office and then on to the celebration venue, this all takes time and there is always the chance that guests and even your photographer may get caught up in congestion, struggle to find parking or simply fail to find the venue itself. It’s also worth noting that your photographer will include travel time in the hours booked, so an hour on the road means an hour less of photography.
Question 5 a wet weather plan. Of course we all hope for a dry day but the weather can’t be guaranteed, even a summer’s day can be wet. Today, most couples ask for lots of casual, documentary style shots, but traditional portraits and group shots remain popular and even if a couple want just a handful, these shots still play a big part in any collection. When checking out the venue look for areas or rooms which can be set up for your portraits and group photographs. Is there a space big enough for the whole group? Where will the photographer stand and will they be able to see everyone if they’re on the same level? Photographing indoors presents a completely different collection to an outdoor or mixed collection and your photographer will do what they can to create lovely images but too many people squeezed into a confined space is rarely a good look!
Making your wedding day collection of photographs that you will love today and treasure forever is any wedding photographer’s job and we are very happy to talk to you on an absolutely no-obligation basis so that you get your wedding photographs, your way. Angela Fitch Photography specialises in Cotswold wedding photography, but we work at venues across the whole of the UK. If you’re looking for a wedding photographer in the Cotswolds or beyond, just drop me a line and we can talk about what you have in mind for your big day.