Did your special someone ask you the big question? Maybe you have been dating for years or just a short time, but you knew the answer as soon as he asked you to marry him. Now that you have said yes, what now?
Starting the task of planning a wedding can be daunting. From the wedding cake to the gown, bridesmaids to the photographer, there are a lot of options and you want this to be the day to be perfect. I have had the pleasure of being able to be a part of several brides and groom's special days and capturing those special moments. In this blog, I share a photographer's perspective on some of the key elements to planning the day you will remember forever, and the guest will continue to talk about.
I am sure you have been browsing lists of venues while trying to match with a style you both are looking for. When narrowing down that list some things to look out for would be the transition, lighting, and multiple areas to create a diverse portrait package. You may already be saying “huh”, but hold on and let me explain.
What I mean by transition is separate rooms at the venue for the bride and her party to get ready, as well as the groom and his party. You will want to have a place to get ready that has plenty of room. Your bridesmaids will thank you! By having a place to keep your stuff and to be able to go back to rest and freshen up after a portrait session helps to keep you and your party comfortable. Not to mention a place to hide while preparing for the ‘first look’ or if not, just having a place to relax before the ceremony. Also key is to find these rooms away from the high traffic areas where your guest will be milling around before the ceremony starts.
Lighting, well I can’t say enough about lighting. Outdoor ceremonies showcase beautiful greenery and bright open skies. Once you know the time and the date of your wedding be sure to visit the venue during that time. If you aren’t able to do that, ask to see pictures of the venue during that time and time of the year. Will that gorgeous sunset be behind a wall of trees or will it create a beautiful backdrop? If you are planning an early afternoon wedding is there a shady spot to stand when you say your vows? Keep in mind that even a beautiful arbor during bright sunlight can cause dappled lights on your outfits and faces. Having no shade can cause you to squint and can make your photo’s too bright, not to mention your guests may get hot if your wedding is in the summer. Even with these little things to think about, outdoor venues still offer the best lighting. Your photographer can easily move about capturing different angles without having to set up several light stands.
With indoor venues, you don’t have to necessarily worry about Mother Nature and can have beautiful features and architecture as well. However, lighting can be an issue. Same as an outdoor wedding, you need to visit the venue at the same time you want your ceremony. Big glass windows can be beautiful, but will the sun be setting right into the venue? Although this would make a beautiful silhouette portrait, flashes will have to be used and you will begin to lose that sunset. On the flip side of that, if your venue does not have windows or only very few will there enough lighting? The more natural the light the better.
As with any venue will you have an area for your reception or are you having to move to another building or location? If you will be moving from one location to another you will need to build time into your day so that your photographer can transition. They will need time to take down lighting equipment, move, and set up at the next location. Why so much lighting equipment you ask? Having multiple flashes on stands around the room helps to eliminate shadows and that flat feel you can get with just a flash on the camera. Just think of a studio but inside your venue.
Lastly, look for multiple areas within your venue(s) to create a diverse portrait package. The ‘getting ready’ candid photos captured inside a room with a nice mirror should not be the only place for the bride and her party to take their portraits. Same goes for the guys. A nice place to escape to for a few fun portraits away from incoming guests would be ideal. When thinking of the Bride and Groom portraits that you want to hang on your wall, look for places around the venue that wouldn’t include unsightly objects, outdated wallpaper, and that are easy to get to. Look for a bench in a quiet corner, tall flowering vegetation, or a wall with character. Do a web search or ask the venue if they have any Bride and Groom portraits captured on site that you can view and use as a reference.
These are just a few of the most common issues that I have found over the course of many weddings. These are not the only things that you should be looking for. If it is at all possible, take your photographer and wedding planner to your top 3 wedding venues so they can get a lay of the land and give you some professional opinions. Don’t be afraid to ask the owner or event coordinator for the venue for pictures of past weddings, and to be able to visit multiple times. Hopefully, this has given you a few things to keep in mind as you are starting your planning.