Wedding venues; from a photographers point of view.
Glorious formal gardens, surrounding an historic and spectacular palace set in acres of unspoilt rolling hills carpeted with ancient woodlands. The gravel driveway crunches under the hooves of the horses drawing the carriage up to the dramatic stair entrance that leads into the elegance of the palace within. The grass is green and lush, the flowers are pristine and ordered to compliment the next in colour and size. The flowers are ripe and the bees buzz from colour to colour. The stone of the palace is full of depth and character and the gold leaf sash windows glisten in the sunlight.
Sounds a wonderful wedding venue, does it not? If not to everyones taste. More likely, it sounds expensive, does it not? Choosing the right wedding venue is complicated and requires careful consideration. But in my experience few couples place their wedding photography on their list of considerations when choosing their wedding venue.
Here, I’d like to give a little insight into my opinions and observations from the view point of the photographer when choosing a wedding venue; through the lens so to speak!
Choices of wedding venue can be mind blowing, from vast palatial estates through to small intimate venues providing for very small parties of guests. Plus there is everything in between those from inner city hotels to simple registry offices and town halls.
As a wedding photographer in Nottinghamshire, I have captured weddings at beautiful settings such as Goosedale, The Walled Garden at Beeston Fields Golf Club and a variety of hotels from the major cities in the East Midlands region. I have built a formidable portfolio of wedding photography and with that an informed opinion and observations of what helps to enhance the photography at a wedding venue.
5 considerations when choosing a wedding venue
These are by no means exhaustive, but do give a good basis to form a framework of which is the right wedding venue for you.
When I say not exhaustive, I’ve missed out the whole point of this blog…..photography!
It’s easy to overlook the photography in your wedding plans. Simply, book your venue and your photographer and hope for the best. It happens, it then falls to the photographer to turn a less than photographic venue into an dramatic and memorable photograph. Don’t misunderstand me here, this is not a moan and then a guide to making my job easier. Far from it, one of the points of this blog is help you as a couple embed your photography into your choices at an early stage to improve your photography at the end of the wedding.
So what should you look for from your venue regarding photography?
It’s simple; colour and opportunities.
Think of an inner city hotel offering weddings. Just the very location of being in city centre can be restrictive in both colour and opportunities. I’m not taking away from these venues that they provide some good packages with good value and at budget friendly prices. But when you visit and view your venue look around at the colour and the outdoor spaces (if any). Ask yourself could that make an ideal backdrop to your photos? Is the space large enough to fit all your guests in for the group shots? Do you want to have outdoor (natural light) photographs or are you content with indoor flash or studio lighting photographs?
Many venues that I have captured at lack any outdoor space and yet try to provide work around solutions to allow their couples to have photographs of their day. Typically, it’s the white lace netting with flashing fairy lights. It is true, that this simple effect can provide some great photos but let’s consider the limitations. The bride and groom would like to have a shot with the whole wedding entourage in the photo. Some 30 plus guests then assemble around the bride and groom, themselves in front of the lace backdrop (fairy lights are still flashing). The group is so large that it’s not possible to position them all in front of the backdrop and so some guests are placed in front of doors or underneath bright green fire exit signs!
In short, it becomes problematic and more importantly the final outcome is reduced for the couple.
This is a great example. It first glance in this image it looks like it’s taken in a formal landscape garden in the grounds of a large country mansion or palace.
This was taken in the back garden of a small town registry office. A perfect example of colour and an opportunity.
Here’s another example. Here I’ve searched out an opportunity from a very limited list.
This was taken at an inner city hotel with no option for colour spaces and presented very limited opportunities or choices.
Compare these two photos, the top one has little editing and more or less SOOC (Straight Out of Camera) where as the one below is edited much more with colours turned up, contrast and shadows enhanced in an effort to lift the photo.
Ask yourself which photo you’d prefer and factor that choice into your considerations when choosing a wedding venue.
This is the ultimate objective of this blog, to help you and benefit you as a couple with a little bit of my hindsight and experiences when making your decisions of your wedding venue.
Here are some my suggestions when choosing your wedding venue, from a purely photographic point of view (through the lens).
When you visit each of your shortlisted wedding venues, look around. Everywhere, not just the places where the wedding planner guides you to.
Look in the gardens, and ask if there is colour to compliment and enhance your photos. Are the flowers and grass to lift your photos or is it just grey stone or brick surrounding by tarmac?
Again, when you visit each of your shortlisted venues. Get nosey and curious. Explore everywhere and ask yourselves where would you like photos to be taken. Don’t just rely on the wedding planning because that’s what the last photographer did or that’s what’s in the wedding brochure.
If there is a water fountain, would that provide ideal location for your photos. Are there other places that work for your photos? A small hill top that overlooks the valley beyond that would look stunning at sunset?
Good luck choosing your wedding venue and I hope that having read this your wedding photography is enhanced. Remember, if in doubt about your photography, call me.