Choosing your perfect wedding venue.
Like so many wedding related questions there is so much choice out there that it can become a little overwhelming.
To help with at least one area I have been looking at wedding venues, I have been lucky enough to have photographed weddings in many places and will offer my thoughts on some places you might be thinking about.
This might at least help you narrow down the type of wedding venue you are looking for and take away some of the overwhelming choices.
- Beach & destination.
- Castles & Manor Houses.
- School or University
A very popular choice mainly I think because they can offer the “one-stop shop” approach to your wedding day.
Not only the obvious option of having accommodation for the couple and their wedding guests but they have things like onsite catering, wedding planners/coordinators and most of the facilities you could ever think of. If not they will have partners and recommended suppliers for everything from room dressing and florists to photographers and DJs.
There is also a hotel out there to suit every budget and style. Many offer some of the unique add ons that the rest of the choices have as their main selling feature.
Some hotels are very specialised in weddings, catering to a few hundred each year while others will only host a handful, there are both good and bad sides to both and your choice of hotel wedding venue will be as unique as you.
These have been so popular that there are many newly built versions of the traditional barn conversions built specifically to host weddings.
The new builds generally benefit from being better designed to cope with wedding parties while still retaining the feel of a traditional converted barn. That said some people who want the barn experience insist on the authentic over the manufactured.
Couples choosing a ban wedding venue almost always choose a civil ceremony held at the venue and these barns make for beautiful images even if as a photographer you have to fight with the lack of light.
The idea of skipping out on all the hassle, stress and general fuss involved in organising a big UK wedding is very appealing and would probably be my choice if I were to get married again……
Combining a holiday, wedding and your honeymoon with all suppliers in one neat package arranged by somebody else and waiting for you when you arrive, all somewhere more likely to have the sun shining than good old Blighty is a very powerful lure.
As a wedding photographer these are the ‘cherry on the top bookings’, I had one not that long ago in California (such a hardship…..). walking down to the beach with the bride and her bridesmaids to get a few extra photographs were amazing and the couple of weeks I spend over there wasn’t too bad either.
They’re not that practical if you want them to do the big friends and family church wedding but I have photographed quite a few of these where the couple have been married abroad then come home to have the full church wedding a few weeks later in the UK.
You will need to look into local laws and visas but the reputable companies organising this kind of wedding will take care of all that for you.
If you are not lucky enough to live in the beautiful UK countryside the idea of a rustic country wedding might be a very appealing one.
While I was living in the Somerset area I photographed many wedding in the Cotswolds, working with couples who lived in and around London.
It is a fantastic escape and change of scenery, I know I’m a northern lad but I have to admit the Southwest does have some of the most beautiful landscapes and stunning wedding venues.
If you are travelling from the big city don’t expect to be able to get 4G, 3G or any G’s in the Cotswolds and you might need a local to translate for you 😉
I’ve seen Marquee weddings done in three ways:
Venues using them as addition usable spaces in places like in hotels where they have limited or even just need another room to hold additional weddings.
Venues that have no real facilities, one of the nicest examples of this I’ve photographed at was a castle, or what was left of the castle, the old building made for a fantastic backdrop for the pictures but the lack of walls and open-air aspect in the Uk didn’t lend its self to late night partying.
Home weddings, if you are lucky enough to have a spare paddock or a few spare acres then this might be the way to go.
I’ve photographed lots of weddings in peoples “back garden” some have felt as big as the village I grew up in and others a little more modest but all big enough to support the marquee, lots of outside space and somewhere for all the guest’s vehicles.
Generally, this is only in use for part of the day and I’ve found it is normally part of a large church wedding with guests coming back to the family house for the reception and evenings festivities.
I enjoy photographing weddings in a marquee, there are some issues but they are great for bouncing light about and the large white walls and low ceiling make for a fantastic softbox that gives beautiful flattering light.
Have a look at marquee weddings too because there is a good chance you are going to need one here.
Castles especially really old ruins make for a spectacular backdrop to any wedding, in some cases, you will need permits and special permission but what an amazing venue and for me some spectacular photo opportunities.
On the same kind of theme, there are many stately homes that have either been converted to cater for weddings or host a handful a year, The national trust has quite a few, as well as many privately owned venues. These make for a real feel-good fairytale wedding, imagine yourself as lord and lady of the manor.
In stark contrast to stately homes and castle wedding venues, you might want to choose the cosy intimate setting of a quaint country pub wedding. I have photographed quite a few weddings in these settings and they always feel like family. Sometimes I wonder how everybody will fit in but they always manage if a little cosy.
As a photographer, they offer up a few interesting challenges but are always so much fun and very much worth considering, especially if you want that intermit setting and good quality locally brewed ales.
Once thought of as the cheap option but more people are just shifting their budget around a little and putting more into the evening and other elements of their wedding day so they can focus on the things that are really important to them.
With more wedding venues having licences to perform civil ceremonies I am seeing less booking town hall venues and that is a shame, there are some beautiful town halls around and it is good to see them put to good use.
I guess like many things it will be a cycle and they will become more popular again.
These venues seem to be getting more popular (maybe they are taking some of the town hall weddings) and with so many beautiful historic venues now catering to wedding parties, there are lots of choices out there.
The first few times I was approached to photograph a wedding at an old school I thought it didn’t really fit but after seeing some of the venues I can see why.
They also have the added benefit of generally being closed during the peak wedding season so the chances of a few students photobombing your wedding photographs are probably less likely to happen than if you were at the town hall.
Selecting your own wedding venue is very important and I hope that my thoughts will at least help you narrow down your search a little, I would love to hear your views and experiences on how and why you chose your wedding venue so I can make this as relevant and helpful as possible to couples planning their special day.
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