venue tips from top wedding photographer

Advice for choosing your wedding venue

February 2, 2018

If you have recently become engaged  , then I’m sure you’ll be curious about how to select your dream wedding venue. Before you can make any of the detailed decisions about your wedding, you need to know where you will be holding your big day.

Wilderness Reserve – Tracy Hosey Photography

The basics
  1. Think about where you would like the wedding, is it an area you were bought up or somewhere that has a special meaning to you? If many of your guests are travelling far then good access and accommodation would be appreciated. What type of wedding venue do you desire? A city centre modern hotel or rural converted barn or luxurious manor house? This is the time to also think of the basic guest list so you don’t waste time visiting venues too small or large for your needs.
  2. Where can you research venues

    1. Personal recommendation is high up on our list, speak to family and friends in the area for personal recommendations of venues they have visited in the past.

  3. 2. Ask suppliers if you’ve hired any already for any recommendations
  4. 3. If you wish to have a civil ceremony then get a list from the local authority of which venues in the area are licensed.
  5. 4. Organisations like English Heritage and National Trust hire out some of their properties for weddings, do check when you’d have access as invariably they are open to the public prior to your wedding.
  6. 5. And if you’ve hired a wedding planner then sit back and relax as they’re do all the research for you and will know some gems of venues to try.
  7. wedding venue advice

    Castello di Vincigliata in Fiesole

What questions do you need to ask?
  • We asked some of our members for their top tips when finding your wedding venue

What will the grounds look like at the time of year you plan to have your wedding? Ask to see photos. Mary from Weddings by Mary 

  1. When researching and booking appointments for a wedding which is large in guest numbers such as Asian and multicultural weddings, its really important that you have the following points in the forefront of your mind. Member Sharn from Desi Bride Dreams gives her top advice.

As Asian weddings and multicultural weddings usually have specialist cuisine such as Indian food its really important you confirm with the venue that they allow external catering companies. The reason being as most venues won’t have an in house catering deal that can create bespoke cuisines like specialist Indian chefs can. So it’s really important you as the question and find out if there is a external catering fee charge. For Asian weddings and multicultural weddings the dinner is served throughout the evening with intervals in between therefore its really vital that you ask the venue what the seated capacity is with a dancefloor. The worst thing would be to find out that you haven’t accounted for a dance-floor space and then you have exceeded the maximum capacity of guests.

Our London ambassador Andri from Always Andri has these tips. There are so many amazing venues out there but don’t feel you have to be restricted to the usual suspects, from restaurants and pubs to art galleries and warehouses there really are so many options that you can find a venue that suits both your personalities and make the perfect backdrop to celebrate your love. Don’t assume that if a venue is not licensed you can’t have your wedding there – if you use an independent celebrant they can conduct a symbolic ceremony for you, all you have to do is get legally married at a registry office much how it is done in Europe.

April from Kook Events says. Before you even set foot in the door of a wedding venue, try to narrow down exactly what you want. If what your heart truly desires is a grand stately home, don’t waste your valuable time looking at sleek city hotels. Similarly, no matter how many log slices you hire, you can’t turn a marquee into a rustic barn! You do need to set a budget though, as if you don’t have a figure set in stone, it’s easy to get carried away and fall in love with venues that just aren’t realistic financially.

One of our wedding photographers Phil Drinkwater gives his photography tips. As a photographer, I look at venues differently; I’m considering where I’m going to take photos if the weather is less than amazing and also what the light will be on the day. In terms of lighting, the worst style of light for photographs is the little spot lights built in ceilings. They cast light which photographers call “panda eyes” – which are shadowed and dark sunken eyes. Try to avoid this if you can as it’s not attractive. The best quality of light you can get for an indoor ceremony is a window facing the couple.

venue tips from top wedding photographer

Peckforton Castle – by Phil Drinkwater Photography / Wedding Planner Helen Eriksen

Phil continues to explain candle light ceremonies are superb too, but you must make sure your photographer is capable of photographing in such low light without using flash or without the photographs ending up too grainy. Outside of lighting, I’d be considering the opportunity for photographs in the venue. You don’t need a lot of space, but it shouldn’t be “messy” – trees without leaves on can look messy, so take this into account if you’re having a winter wedding. Most of all though the venue should speak to you; you should feel comfortable and at home there.

Wedding Planner member Illy Goodall  says: When searching for your perfect venue it’s always important to check what suppliers you can work with in regards to catering and what flexibility they will give you with this. Some venues work with one catering supplier which limits what choices you can have, some venues allow you to pick from 2 or 3 caterers. Some venues let you choose whoever you would like and have no restrictions on this. You don’t want to feel let down when you choose your ideal venue but can’t have the caterers you’d like. It’s always important to check if the building is listed. Some listed buildings won’t allow you to light candles or even place certain decorations up. If you’re planning on having candelabras as your centrepiece, this can be a real let down if you want your candles lit.

What about members favourite venues?

Helen from Pudding Bridge  says. My favourite venue is easy… Boconnoc  is the perfect mix of old and new. It’s set in the most amazing grounds and the most incredible driveway leading the house. You can hire the venue for the entire weekend and host a weekend wedding getaway for your loved ones. The interior space has been lovingly restored with a contemporary twist and artwork. It’s the most perfect space!

Best wedding venue Cornwall

Boconnoc – Josh Gooding Photography

Great Fosters , Egham, Surrey is a favourite of Susie from Inspired by Susie Evans This is a beautiful Grade One listed building set amongst 50 acres of stunning gardens and parkland. The gardens are immaculately preserved meaning some fabulous opportunities for stunning photographs and they even have a moat.   I was lucky enough to fully plan a wedding for 180 day guests celebrating their wedding reception in the 14th century Tithe Barn. On a beautiful spring afternoon, the guests enjoyed drinks and canapes outside in the extensive gardens and terrace before dining in the Tithe Barn. Whilst they were at full capacity during the day and had 230 guests in the evening there was still plenty of room for all the guests and the rooms flowed together really well.

For me, whilst the beauty of the venue with my favourite area being the immaculate gardens the main reason for having this venue as a favourite is because the staff on the day were outstanding. They went out of their way to ensure everything ran smoothly and were very supportive and keen to work closely with myself. The management on the day kept me informed and communicated with me throughout the day and evening and I cannot fault the service. It is so refreshing to find a venue that work so hard on the day to ensure everything is just perfect. Nothing was too much bother and everything ran like clockworks and I cannot wait to work here again.

Inspired by Susie Evans Kent wedding planner

Great Fosters – Paul Read Photography

Michelle from Ritzy events My absolute favourite venue is Castello di Vincigliata  in Fiesole,  a small town in the hills above Florence.  The building dates back to 1031,  but was restored in the 19th century and became a place for social and cultural gatherings, creating unforgettable evenings with it’s magical atmosphere.  This has continued through to the present day.   The venue offers several different outdoor spaces including a beautiful courtyard for your ceremony (and/or your wedding breakfast),  a gorgeous terrace and garden (with views over Florence) where you can host your ceremony and/or your drinks reception and your evening party.   In the event of wet weather (which has to be planned for, but rarely happens) there is a permanent marquee and various beautiful indoor rooms.   The venue is hired as a “shell” so we bring in everything on the day – catering, bar, furniture, lighting, etc – which enables us to create a totally unique and bespoke wedding for every couple.

best wedding venue italy

Castello di Vincigliata in Fiesole

The Great Lodge in Essex is recommended by Mary Weddings by Mary It is an impressive Grade 1 listed brick and tile barn, which is licensed for wedding between 1st April and 31st October. The grounds are meticulously kept and outside ceremonies can take place beside the lake in a handcrafted green oak wedding pavilion. They permit you to provide your own catering as well as drinks with no corkage fee. They have recently added accommodation with more rooms planned. The venue is next to their home and the bride & groom meet the registrars in their lounge, and there is a bell outside that can be rung to announce the happy couple have become man and wife. They keep alpacas and the children are invited along to help at feeding time.

Photo Credits:

Great Fosters by  Paul Read Photography  + Planner Inspired by Susie Evans

Boconnoc Photo: Josh Gooding Photography + Planner Pudding Bridge

Castello di Vincigliata Photo:  David Bastianoni  + Planner Ritzy Events

Wilderness Reserve – Photo: Tracey Hosey + Planner Dream Occasions 

Peckforton Castle – Photo: Phil Drinkwater + Planner Helen Eriksen