Happy Wednesday everyone!

To be COMPLETELY honest, I was not so happy when I looked outside this morning and it was SNOWING. What the HECK. It’s freakin’ MAY here! Oh well, we need the moisture, as Tom keeps reminding me over and over again. And my response to that is, couldn’t the moisture mean RAIN? And yes, I realize how ridiculous that is – how many photographers actually WANT rain? Or brides for that matter!

This weekend I will be shooting in a location that is COMPLETELY foreign to me – a beach. Yes, I’ve been to the beach, lots of times. But I’ve never done a wedding on a beach. People warned me about salt spray. Ummm what the heck is salt spray!? I’m landlocked here, people! So I had to do some quick reading (this was a very last minute decision!) and prepare myself for the new venue. I’m all set and ready, and excited to be doing something new!

This was me, last year, in Florida, feeding the pelicans. I was SO excited to feed them and spent entirely too much money for stinky fish to throw to them, but I loved it!

st petersburg fl, pelicans, feeding pelicans, denver wedding photographer, denver wedding photography, FL wedding photographer, FL wedding photography

So this week’s wedding Wednesday will focus on venues. In the past year I have learned SO much, not only as a photographer, but as a bride as well, and I wanted to share some quick tips on venues for any brides that are working on that detail right now!

Just a quick note, all of these tips apply to both ceremony and reception venues! A lot of people are choosing to do both in the same location, which is easier, but if you have a church that you’d like to have the ceremony in, these tips will apply mainly to the reception venue.

SO – first things first! A lot of people will tell you that you need to get your venue confirmed first, before doing anything else. And I would agree with that, but with some conditions! Some brides book a venue without thinking of anything else, and then they’re stuck!

First of all, KNOW how many guests you will have, and what type of catering you want, bands vs. DJ’s, etc. Why does all of this matter when choosing a venue? Because you want to make sure that it will all fit in whatever space you choose! A 12 piece band will take up more room than a DJ! Three different buffets will take up more room than a plated dinner! These are all things to think about BEFORE choosing your venue. When we were shopping for venues, we really had no idea how big this wedding was going to get. We looked at places that would hold 75 people, and figured “we could make it work.” Believe me brides, you don’t want to have to make it work. You want to KNOW, without a doubt, that it WILL work. Do some planning ahead of time so that you can choose a venue with space and capacity considerations in mind.

Second, make sure that you choose a venue that fits your personal style. If you have a quirky, vintage style in your everyday life, don’t choose a super elegant downtown hotel – it just won’t fit. I’ve talked about wedding details matching your personality, but this goes for your venue too! If you and your fiance are city dwellers that are on TOP of the latest style trends, you might feel out of place on a farm somewhere, surrounded by livestock. Choose a venue that you feel comfortable in!

Third, make sure to carefully read your contract. I know this should be a no-brainer right? But you would be surprised how many people just sign contracts without knowing what’s in them. Make sure that you know all of the rules, and all of the fees. Sometimes there are additional costs to do things that you thought were free. Be educated and on top of these things! And if you don’t have time to do it (let’s be honest, we’re ALL busy!) get a coordinator. I did a post recently about the reasons to hire a coordinator – this is just one of many! Usually they will review your contracts to make sure that everything is on the up-and-up, and will flag anything that looks extraordinary just in case.

Fourth and last (there are tons more but this is all for today!), make sure that your venue will allow you the type of photographs that you want OR make sure that you hire a fantastic photographer that is flexible. (Hint hint!) If you book a venue that isn’t as picturesque as you’d like, be realistic with the photos that you will be able to get. A good photographer will be flexible and will be able to get good shots anyway, but if you choose a venue in a garden, you’re probably not going to get those magazine style urban photos. Most importantly, know what you want in the photos, and make sure that your venue will allow that. Or do a first look with your awesome photographer so you can take photos somewhere else beforehand.

Quick plug here – if you haven’t considered a first look, think about it, especially if you have a venue that might not give you the photos you want. It gives you more time to go to another location, and time alone with your husband or wife to be – that you most likely won’t get for the rest of the day! We’ll have to do another Wedding Wednesday on the first look to explain it a bit more.

These are just a few of the tips that come to mind when choosing a venue, based on some of the experiences that I’ve had, and things that I’ve heard from other wedding professionals as well as brides. I hope that they help, and as always, if I can be of any assistance on your day, contact me!