7 Things to Look for When Booking a Wedding Venue 


I often get asked about what someone should look for when picking a wedding venue. I’ve been around the block a few times and have quite a bit of advice here. But let’s get the first things out of the way! If you are hiring a wedding planner, make sure to hire one before you pick a venue. This is the easiest and best way to pick your venue and know exactly what you’re getting and if you’re getting something that’ll work with your aesthetic. It’s their job to make sure the wedding venue you pick fits all of your needs and they know exactly what to look for! It’s a question a lot of people have, and I always tell people to hire a planner before. But if you’re not getting a wedding planner, and just a day of coordinator or doing things on your own, then these are the tips I suggest. 

Location Matters

First up, location. Know how far your venue is from your guests. Keep in mind what guests have to do in order to get to your wedding venue. Do they have to find a hotel in a different city and then travel additional miles/time just to get to the venue? Or is there lodging close by the venue so there’s not a lot of extra travel/stress on them getting there. Can they easily find your venue by GPS or is it in a more secluded, “off the map” place? These things make a difference!

The Best Season for Your Wedding Venue

It’s best to know, seasonally, what things look like. If the venue is outdoors in a vineyard or in a field, then make sure the venue is available for your wedding date. What’s the weather going to be like at your venue during this time? What about the plant life? I’ve had couples book an outdoor space because of the gorgeous vineyard view, but the wedding was in the winter. So, the vineyard was brown. Additionally, some venues are not open at certain times of the year due to these types of things, so make sure to inquire early and find out if your wedding venue is available/in a good season on your wedding date.

Bride standing in front of a large door in front of her wedding venue

Keep in Mind the Aesthetic

If the vision of your wedding is modern, clean, white and bright, then you’re not going to want to pick a rustic barn or green vineyard. Instead, you should be looking for a modern chapel or maybe a museum. Vice Versa, if you’re excited about an outdoor ceremony, don’t book in the city! Make sure to find a venue that accommodates the ascetic you’re going for!

Know Your Guest List

If your wedding is small, and just composed of intimate close friends and family, you will have much more flexibility in choosing a venue. But, if you have a big wedding of 200+ guests, don’t book a small venue that can only accommodate 50 people! Make sure the wedding venue accommodates you and your list. This is also important for your bridal party. For fun party pictures with a big bridal party, you’re not going to pick a venue with a small area for only the bride to get ready in. If you’re planning on feeding your guests make sure there is a space that’s big enough to fit tables and chairs at the venue!

Bride and Groom with bridal party standing in front of the arbor

Does the Wedding Venue Have Backup Options? 

Make sure there are backup options in place at the venue you choose. A great venue allows for backups in case of weather or unplanned events. Ask them questions about “if it rains” or “what happens if there’s a tornado warning?” The things they can do to accommodate last minute changes is what separates a good venue from a great venue!

Lighting is Important

People come to my website, or see my photos online, and they love them! The reason they’re so pretty is because the lighting in that picture was ideal. I educate my clients on how to pick the best lighting for indoor photos. When you’re looking at the indoor spaces of a potential wedding venue, look at the getting ready space, the ceremony and even the reception areas. Where is the light in in those areas coming from. Ideally, they’d be coming from lots of natural light from windows! And be sure to think about how much light is going to be coming in at different portions of the day when the sun is at different angles. Basically – the more natural light we have coming into a space, the more likely you are to get better quality photos like you see on my website/social media.

Bride and her bridesmaids sitting in their pajamas, getting ready at the wedding venue

Emphasize what’s important to you

If you want a full wedding day of 8-10 hours, make sure that the wedding venue can accommodate that!  Make sure that the venue has a large enough getting ready space for all your bridesmaids and me to capture those photos! If feeding your guests is important, a catering space and location to feed people will be central to your decision making process. If you’re thinking “I want sunset photos’ or “I want husband wife images,” look around the building! We’ll need variety, and if you want more variety in the background of your pictures, look at the landscape and see if it’s going to fit the aesthetic you’re going for. Just keep in mind the most important things about your wedding day and make sure that the venue you’re booking with is going to be able to give you those important moments on your big day!

Emily Quigley is a wedding, engagement and newborn photographer in Northwest Arkansas. She’s been featured in Glamor and Grace, Aisle Society and several other online websites. Click here to get your booking today!

If you like blogs like this, check out some of my others:
Tips for Perfect Getting Ready Photos at Your Wedding
How to Prepare Your Man for an Engagement Session
Top Six Bridal Dress Shops in Arkansas
Jason and Jamar’s Wedding
Leah and Tommy’s Engagement Session

Find out more about Emily! 

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