As a London based wedding photographer, you would probably think I take most of my wedding photos in London, oh ho but you are wrong!  Whilst I do love a London wedding, I also love travelling around and the opportunity that gives me to experience new wedding venues, their co-ordinators, caterers, owners and planners and also observe they way in which they each carry out their individual roles.

Choosing your wedding venue is hard as there are so many things to consider, at the forefront is, of course, cost.  But there is so much more to it than that.  I have written this blog because I feel really lucky to have shot at some of the wedding venues I have and I just wanted to talk about them really!  What I ALSO wanted to do was share some of the wisdom from couples POST wedding about their day and also the things they needed to take on board when it comes to their venue choice and their wedding photography.

 

 

Things to consider

Outdoor Venues – You want to get married amongst the trees and grass with the birds tweeting about your heads and the warm summer breeze in your hair, WONDERFUL, outdoor weddings make for beautiful images but there are a few things you need to take into account, now I know you are not an idiot, yes you who are reading this, but it is very easy to get swept up into a Pinterest fantasy when looking for wedding venue ideas, and get totally carried away, especially if you want your service to be held outside…..in the UK!!

  • The time of year you are getting married.  (They aren’t called April Showers for nothing) one cannot control the weather, unless you are a Rothschild, if so then so be it, also please book me, I have bills to pay!  So it goes without saying, book well in advance if you want to get those peak lovely summer months and lessen your risk of getting wet (although most if not ALL Venues have back up areas in which you can get married!!) it is also pertinent to consider supplying brollies and wellies (or at least giving your guests the heads up to bring their own) just in case the heavens open…it happens!!
  • Book well in advance!!!  I know I only just said that BUT, some desirable venues, such as Bignor Park, only host a certain amount of weddings a year, so when they are booked up….they are BOOKED UP!!
  • Consider your officiant and the marriage service itself, do your research, some venues are licensed for civil ceremonies on their grounds, using Bignor Park as an example again, you can OFFICIALLY get married here in the Loggia, situated in their beautiful grounds, nice huh?  But not ALL venues are licensed for the marriage itself, so research research research.  Officiants are bound by legal requirements such as; the area in which they conduct the ceremony must have at least 3 permanent walls surrounding where you take your vows and sign the register, at Fison Barn, you can get married wherever the jiggers you like but you must have had a legal civil ceremony before you can get married under a tree in one of their lush fields.
  • Humanist ceremonies.  So you’ve decided to tie the knot with just a couple of witnesses at a registry office, in preparation for your humanist ceremony outside, groovy.  You now need to pick the right humanist for you.  Again, you are not an idiot, but just for your reference, in case this is new to you; a Humanist is (and I got this from the interweb of dreams) – humanist ˈhjuːmənɪst/ noun – an advocate or follower of the principles of humanism.  “efforts by secular humanists to oppose creationists” the beauty of having a Humanist oversee your wedding vows is that you have fairly free reign when it comes to your vows and how the ceremony is conducted.  So just something else to bear in mind, I found this website which covers what you might need to know about having a humanist wedding- https://humanism.org.uk/ceremonies/non-religious-weddings/faqs/
  • Guests.  I know these all seem like obvious things but I like to cover all bases!  Consider your guest list – elderly and handicapped guests in particular as well as guests with brand new babies, is your venue easily accessible and easy to navigate around for a full day?  Are there adequate facilities?  Your wedding is just that YOUR wedding, but what is a wedding if not a time when you are surrounded by those you love and care for?  So their needs are so important too.
  • Photography.  You will want to know if your photographer can shoot your outdoor wedding come rain or shine, let me assure you any wedding photographer worth their salt will be equipped to shoot in all conditions, if you have questions for your wedding photographer when it comes to this, ASK!!  Ask to see any outdoor weddings that they have covered, ask how they deal with rain, snow, wind and EXTREME SUNSHINE!!  They will be able to quell any concerns you may have.
  •   The whole kit and caboodle.  Finally you will need to decide if you would like your entire wedding outside and what this may entail, ask your venue (although to be fair they will probably have this covered!!) what the options are for retreat, should the weather not be on your side.

 

Barn Venues – So you would like a rustic wedding, maybe even a DIY wedding, barns are perfect for this and they are also used to wedding parties (amongst other things!)

  • Lighting.  Always a huge factor from a wedding photography perspective NATURALLY, but like I said before, it’s YOUR wedding and YOUR choice to have your venue lit as you see fit!  It is always worth asking to see how the barn looks both lit and…er…not!  Most barns are fully equipped with many different lighting settings, some LOOK to the naked eye, AMAZING, but don’t translate so well in camera.  To give you an example, Lower Stockbridge Farm Barn is beautiful, SUCH a gorgeous venue (with, might I add, lovely staff and the owner, Cherry, is delightful!!) they have a lighting set up with a plethora of colours ranging from pink to blue to green to purple which fade in and out according to setting.  During the speeches, it is really nice to stick to the lighter of the pinky settings, erring more on the neutral side, purely for aesthetic reasons.  Your venue will generally be REALLY accommodating, and, if you ask for them to keep the lighting on a certain setting for X portion of the day, they will be happy to oblige.
  • Ceremony.  Again, as with the outdoor ceremonies, this part is pretty much the same, registrar or celebrant, it entirely depends on what the venue allows (although most have been duly sanctioned to allow for the marriage ceremony) and what your personal requirements are.  Some barns, like Cripps Barn, have a specially designated area for the ceremony (which is later used for the dance-floor!) and another room with a bar and wedding breakfast set up, so there is no need for any ‘hanging about’ whilst the room is turned around, some are, simply ‘The Barn’, so you may have to think about how to entertain your guests whilst the room is being transformed, ready for the later half of the day.
  • Guests.  Enquire, again, about accessibility for certain guests, if they have specific needs, do ask the event planners/barn owners what they provide in this area.
  • Sound.  If you have a large wedding party, chances are some guests will be much further away than others but out of sight is NOT out of mind, they want to hear he speeches too!  You may need to find out what the set up is with regards to microphones and speakers, their location and power points.  Another thing to bear in mind is that being a barn, it is in a rural area (most likely) some venues like this do have noise restrictions, not only on the decibels but also the time at which any noise must stop, again, ASK!!  If you are wild party animals and want to keep going till the cock crows, this is definitely an area you need to investigate!
  • Photography.  When having your wedding in a barn, it is quite usual that the barn will be surrounded by lush fields, picturesque cottages, tractors, piles of wood, horses and other tasty things that look great in wedding photographs.  DO NOT assume that you can just go traipsing over Mr Boggin’s field and have a picture with his prize winning mares.  DO ASK FIRST, if you check these details before the big day, it is actually a great time saver as your photographer can look at plan Bs for equally ‘wow’ shots, if you go hell for leather and jump into a cornfield without a by-your-leave, you could risk a salt pellet in your derrière.
  • Parking.  I didn’t cover this in the outdoor wedding bit, but check about areas you can and can’t park!!!

 

Stately Homes and/or Listed buildings – Feeling a touch stylish and want more of a luxury wedding?  There are a host of amazing buildings up and down the country that cater for your wedding day venue needs.

  • Insurance.  Many of these venues are home to a great deal of historic artefacts, from the ceilings down to the carpet, it is for that reason that the question of insurance comes up, especially with regards to your wedding photography, it may be that your wedding photographer is required to increase the level of their own insurance to shoot in these venues.  This is not unusual and is something we are able to do, do make sure this is done in a timely manner so that we have time to make the necessary changes to our existing policy.  With regards to your own wedding insurance, this is something that will be discussed when booking your venue also.  It is nothing to panic about, just a precautionary measure so that everybody is well covered!
  • Catering.  Many if not ALL of these venues will have either in-house caterers or be able to recommend the best caterers for YOU.
  • Corkage. To cork or not to cork, that is the question!!!  This is an area that doesn’t necessarily apply to all of the above venues thus far, some venues don’t provide alcohol, some do, this is something your wedding venue and you need to discuss if you are planning on providing alcohol for your guests.  With regards to corkage, this is where the venue charge you for serving alcohol that YOU have provided, the reason for this is; although you have provided your drinks, the staff have to open and serve your guests and it’s as simple as that!  So just ask your venue and work out what is most cost effective for YOU.
  • Guests.  It may be prudent to advise your guests of any restrictions regarding the venue and considerations that may need to be taken into account when having your wedding in a listed building.

 

There are SO many amazing places where you and your lover can tie the knot, you can even do it in your own back garden, I have just summarised a few of the most popular venue ‘types’ here, to be honest, the allowances and restrictions, although varied, do generally run along the same lines.  Just remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question, so if in doubt just ask ask ask!!!

 

Happy weddinging!!!!!