Wedding Photographer Blog

Tips for Picking Your Perfect Wedding Venue

Shannon Arney - Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Tips for Picking Your Perfect Wedding Venue
Consuela and Michael standing in front  of the picturesque Peninsula Club in Cornelius North Carolina. 

The wedding venue is an integral and defining part of your wedding day.  It will in part dictate the style of your wedding and may even dictate which vendors you are able to use.  And lucky for you, one of the hardest decisions in the wedding planning process is one of the first you will have to make.  With a little organization and research you can painlessly wade through your options.  Here we have a few little tips to help with your wedding venue selection.

What Kind of Venue?

First you need to decide what type of venue you are after. Are you looking for a traditional venue such as hotels or estate houses that are going to have all the bells and whistles covered?  These type of venues make up the majority of the wedding venue market, and appeal greatly to couples because of their set packages and ample experience in holding weddings. Maybe you are after a non-traditional venue like a museum, vineyard or restaurant, featuring something a little outside of the ordinary.  These often offer a bit more flexibility to the bride and groom during the planning process.

When beginning this process it would help to know your wedding style.  It will make it easier to eliminate those that simply don't fit into your vision for your wedding. If you need a little help with finding  your wedding style our recent blog on the subject can give you a few pointers.

Newlyweds pose wtih their wedding party at the Swan House in Atlanta Georgia.Teisa and Chris pose with their wedding party following their elegant wedding at the historic Swan House in Atlanta Georgia.

What Do You Want Out of Your Wedding Venue?

The next step is a huge undertaking.  Essentially you need to develop a rough outline of what you would like your big day to look like and include.  The easiest way to go about this is to develop a spreadsheet that details all your venue needs.  While you are in the midst of your internet search for wedding venues keep track of what each venue offers you through this spreadsheet.  It will provide you with a quick glance guide and make getting rid of the non-contenders a lot simpler.  First and foremost narrow your search to include the geographical area you are interested in.  In our case it would be Charlotte NC and surrounding cities (you decide on how far you are willing to travel).  Then follow our question guide when evaluating your venue options:

Questions To Ask Wedding Venues
  • Does it remain within your budget?  (this is 100% the most important on the list and must be decided a budget prior to beginning your search)
  • How many guest will you invite vs. how many it will hold?
  • Will it accommodate your ceremony and your reception?
  • How does pricing work?  Are their packages?  What is included?
  • Can you select your own vendors?
  • Is there plenty of natural light for the photographer to capture your evening?
  • Are table and chairs included?  If they aren't your style can you bring in your own?
  • Are linens included?
  • Is there parking on site?
  • Is there outside space, as well as indoor?  What is included in the price?
  • Is there AC/Heat?
  • Is there overnight accommodations for guests in the venue area?
  • What are the restroom accommodations?  (very important for outside wedding venues)
  • Is the venue exclusive to you that day or will multiple weddings be taking place?
  • Is there an event coordinator and will that individual be onsite on your wedding day?
  • Is staff included?  If so how many?
  • What are the bar options and pricing structure?
  • Can you bring your own alcohol and is there an associated charge?
  • When will the venue be made available to you for set up?
  • Are there any restrictions?


Bride poses for photos after her wedding ceremony at the Ritz Carlton in Charlotte NCAlyssa posses in her beautiful wedding gown at the luxurious Rtiz-Carlton in Charlotte NC.


Ready to Visit Venues

Once you have your list narrowed down to your top contenders you are ready to begin your visits. I would recommend trying to get it down to 3, but no more than 5.  Visiting venues is necessary, but can be very dominating of your time. Plan to dedicate a few weekends to this process.  When you are visiting your wedding venues options make sure to take note of how the place is laid out.  Identify where your ceremony and/or reception will be held.  What path will your guests have to take to access both areas?  Is there a rain day plan? Will you be visible to all guests during ceremony and reception?  Are there ample power sources available to your vendors, especially those musicians or DJs?

It is also beneficial to have the coordinator walk you through a typical wedding at their venue.  This will help answer many questions you may have or even raise some you weren't aware to ask. If something doesn't appeal to you ask if they are flexible and able to accommodate your ideas?  You most certainly don't want to invest in a particular venue to find out its not exactly what you had in mind. 

Take Your Time

Now you should have it narrowed down to 1 or 2 top choices.  At this point you want to get an exact quote from these top contenders. Make sure you are provided with a pricing structure that identifies exactly what will be included on your wedding day.  If it is not exactly what you had in mind  ask if there is any leniency; can additions or subtractions be made.  Pay attention to whether tax and service charges have been included in your quote.  Also ask what happens in the case of a cancellation.  Finally, if particular vendors are required with your selected venue you will want to get pricing from them prior to booking the venue.  Identify what these other vendors offer and make sure it fits within your own wedding style as well as your wedding budget.

Selecting a wedding venue is a time consuming part of the wedding planning process, but is well worth the extra effort.  The investment you make to your wedding venue will exceed the cost of your other vendors by far, so it is essential to be well researched and make an informed decision.  You want to ensure they are able to provide you with the wedding day you envisioned.  Ask plenty of questions and

Newlyweds pose for a picuture following their wedding at Ballantyne Country Club Stephanie and Chris pose for a photo following their beautiful ceremony at the Ballantyne Country Club.

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They worked with me and my husband (who isn't as social as I am) to make us feel comfortable with our photo sessions, and were very organized on our wedding day. Each picture is breathtaking! I just wish all the photos weren't so's hard to choose which ones I want to put in an album!!!

Emily & Andrew

Emily & Andrew