Wedding Day Advice | Choosing a Venue

What to Look Out for When Booking a Wedding Venue

Booking a wedding venue can be tricky. Have you thought about where you’d like your ceremony to take place? You might prefer to get married in the church you attend, but remember that guests will then have to drive to the reception from there. You could consider asking your minister to conduct the service at the venue’s chapel. It might ease the tension a little if you’re getting dressed in a bridal suite at the venue, with your ceremony only a few steps away and welcome drinks waiting for your guests after the service.

Some wedding venues include a night in the bridal suite as part of the package, remember to check their policy before you book a wedding  venue. When you visit the venue before the wedding day, make sure there’s enough space around the altar for a minister, bridesmaids, groomsmen, photographers, videographers, musicians, mike stands, instruments, pageboys, flower girls and whoever else needs to be accommodated there. It’s easier for us to be unobtrusive if we’re not knocking over something or someone in an attempt to get out the way.

Booking a wedding Venue Photo courtesy Aleit, Photographer Zara-Zoo

The season for love
Winter or summer wedding

If you’re getting married in summer and your ceremony is outside under a gazebo, make sure the venue has a contingency plan in case of rain. If it should start raining just before or even during the service, staff should move seating and decorations under cover, and it should happen quickly. It’s also a good idea to choose a wedding venue with beautiful interiors in case you need to do the photo session indoors, although there’s ways to work around this and still get lovely photos. Some venues gather up autumn leaves and save them to decorate lawns with, resulting in unique winter photos. Whether you choose to get married in summer or winter, most venues keep their gardens well watered and manicured, and you should be able to create pleasing photos regardless of the season.

The time of day
Say cheese!

This is the single decision that can influence the success of your photo session and therefore your photos as well. Allow enough time for the photo session after the service. Remember that if you’re late for the wedding, this influences the amount of time you have to take photos; the sun doesn’t wait for us to finish up before setting. If you have a late afternoon service, consider doing the family photos after your photo session the photos of the bride and groom are the most important and if light is an issue, get started sooner than later. Just a quick note on breakfast weddings they’re usually a lot more cost effective than dinner-and-dance weddings. The venue is normally cheaper; same goes for the menu and you’re foregoing a DJ.

Final checks
Odds & ends

  • Remember to check the closing time of the venue. Some venues allow you to party all night, while others have a time restriction. Also keep in mind that your DJ will probably charge extra per hour if it’s after a certain time (same goes for photo & video, so confirm before you book). If you’re going to dance, make sure your DJ will be allowed to play loud music.
  • Enclose a map to the venue with your invitations. And give your cellphone to a bridesmaid to answer, there will invariably be calls to ask for directions when maps are thrown away (why do people phone the bride & groom about this?).
  • Have a chat with the venue to ensure there’s sufficient parking on the day, and that there’s enough space inbetween the tables for your guests (and photographers & videographers) to move around. We squeeze in where we have to, but planning this properly helps a lot. Check with the venue if tablecloths and chair covers are included in the price.
  • If you’d like a lot of family photos, it’s handy if you bring a list along on the day. It speeds things up so that your guests don’t have to stand around and wait. Please give this list to the MC or a family member so that they can get the people together. Speak to the parents before the wedding and let them know how long your photo session will take (after consultation with the photographer), so that they know not to expect you back in 15 minutes and so that they don’t kick up a fuss when it takes a while. If you’re guests are not allowed in the reception area before you arrive, don’t expect them to stand around outside without at least providing seating for them. They get annoyed when they have to stand around while we’re doing photos wouldn’t you?

We live in a beautiful country packed with awesome venues just waiting to be discovered. I hope my tips will help you make the right decision.

By Marinda van Zyl Photography

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