Mini-Guide to Your Wedding

A Mini Guide to Planning The Venue & Photography for Your Perfect Wedding Day


Planning a wedding can be a time of anticipation and joy. It can also be a time of stress if you’re unprepared for the myriad tasks that accompany wedding planning. Choosing your venue and photographer are two of the most important parts of the process, and it pays to know all of the facts you need to make the right choice.

Choosing the Venue

Booking the venue sets the date of your wedding. You will not be able to book any of your other vendors until you have a venue, so take care of this step as soon as possible. Your venue will also set the tone of your wedding and be a major consideration when budgeting for the event.

Formal vs. Informal

What type of ceremony do you envision? Do you want a formal ceremony at a country club with a full bridal party, attendants, valet parking and coat check? Do you want an informal ceremony at a park with a few of your closest friends and family present? Are you going for a rustic theme in a barn? Will you get married on a beach in your bare feet? This is the first consideration and will make all of the difference in everything from your catering to your music selections and attire.

There are many ideas for venues from historic churches to museums, firehouses, parks and mountaintops. You are not limited to traditional wedding venues and banquet halls.

You will need to select your venue as soon as possible. Many brides start planning their weddings 12-18 months in advance, so it can be challenging to get the venue you want if you’re short on time.

Considerations When Choosing a Venue

Time of Year

The time of year you plan to get married will dictate what types of venues are available. May through October is prime wedding season, so keep this in mind when thinking about your venue. Booking on the off season will often mean a significant cost savings. For outdoor weddings, summer may seem like the obvious choice, but keep in mind that sitting in the sun for even 30 minutes can be uncomfortable and even dangerous for elderly guests. A fall outdoor wedding can be beautiful, but keep it to daytime hours as the temperature often drops drastically in the evenings.


Some venues offer raw space that you can decorate as you please. They may also offer kitchen space. These venues often offer a cost savings, but come with one major downside. You must provide everything, from the decor to the table and chairs to the catering dishes, audio equipment and staff. These costs can add up quickly and create a major dent in your budget.

Inclusive venues often offer everything at one flat rate per person. They may include the catering, DJ, coat check, staff, tables and chairs and decor. Your venue may include a bar and a photographer. Some will even throw in a wedding cake as well. Others include a wedding planner and “day of” coordinator as well.

Guest Count

The number of guests you wish to invite will largely determine your venue choice. Some venues have occupancy restrictions, so keep that in mind. It can be helpful to create a guest list first, then start choosing venues. Some brides choose the venue first then develop the guest list based on that. Either method works. Just remember that not all of your invited guests will attend, so choose accordingly.

Booking Your Venue

When you have decided on a venue, contact the coordinator to finalize the details. Make sure to get a detailed contract that lists your total costs and inclusions. There may be payment deadline dates, so keep those in mind as well. For most venues, the balance is due a few months to weeks before the wedding, so be sure to keep track of those dates.

Choosing a Photographer

When the cake is cut, the dances are over and everyone has gone home, the only lasting part of your wedding day will be the photos. This is why it pays to choose your photographer carefully. Many of the best photographers are booked months to years in advance, so start planning your photography as soon as possible.

Photography Style: Traditional vs. Photojournalism

Traditional photographers take a variety of posed and candid photos. They may take photos of the bridal party, the family and the couple together in posed shots. They take pictures of the major parts of the ceremony and reception, and typically present these photos to the couple in an album. Traditional photographers are skilled at capturing the essence of the day—what the couple was wearing, who was in attendance and the food and decor.

Photojournalism tells a story about your day. It chronicles the bride waking up with her bridesmaids, the groom getting ready, the mother of the bride helping her into her dress and the men leaving for the ceremony. It typically follows the couple for the entire day and ends with them leaving the reception at the end of the night. Photojournalistic shots may include the bride getting her makeup on, the groom seeing her for the first time, the first dance at the reception and the guests crying during speeches.

Engagement Shoots

Engagement shoots are the best way for the couple to see the photographer’s work before the wedding day. These shoots typically take place early on in the planning process, and are often used on the Save the Date cards, the wedding website and on social media. The engagement shoot will allow you to get to know the photographer before the “big day,” and work out any issues you may have beforehand.

Things to Ask Your Photographer:

What is your style? Do you take mostly posed or candids or both?
What are your terms? What is the deposit? When is the balance due?
Are there additional fees for travel? Can we shoot in multiple locations?
When will receive our photos? Will receive a flash drive with photos? Do we order the prints from you?
How many people will shoot my wedding? Is your fee for one or two photographers?

Ask for recommendations and review their portfolio to make sure they have all of the elements you need for an amazing wedding shoot. 

Choosing a wedding venue and photographer will make all the difference in the overall experience of the day. The key is to start early and ask lots of questions to make sure you will have the wedding of your dreams.


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