There is now such a wealth of wedding venues out there that you are no longer restricted to hotels and stately homes when choosing your wedding venue. From Converted barns, to old forts to woodland locations, if you’re willing to travel the possibilities are endless. During my career as a wedding photographer I have got to visit a whole manner of wonderful and not so great venues so here are my top tips when trying to find the location that is perfect for you.

First off decide if you are willing to travel and if so how far? If you have fallen in love with a venue but it is a considerable distance away you will need to consider the needs of your guests as well. From my experience as long as guests are given enough warning they are usually more than happy to travel with some making a mini holiday of it. It would be a good idea to suggest accommodation options of varying price points near to your venue and maybe try and sweet talk a hotel and negotiate a reduced rate.

Outdoor space at castle wedding venue
Castle wedding venue in Italy

Can you legally get married at your venue? In order for you to be legally married in England your venue must be fully licenced and have a permanent structure for the ceremony to be conducted under. For more information about legally marrying in England follow this link . If you are unable to be legally married on site you will have to look for an alternative location to hold the official ceremony. When choosing your wedding venue, would you consider having a smaller registry office ceremony a few days before. You can then hire the services of a celebrant to create a ceremony at your desired location? The plus side to this is there are no restrictions about what happens during a celebrant ceremony. You can have any readings (within reason) and create your own vows. As along as the venue is willing, there are no restrictions as to where this is conducted.

Picture of a church stepel

Would you like a church wedding? Church weddings are usually located in an area that holds meaning to one or both of the couple. A church ceremony on average lasts an hour with time after for photos. If this is the case, it would be a good idea to look for a venue relatively close to the church.

Not all your guests will want to stand around and watch whilst photos are being taken. This way they can start making their way across to the reception venue. You also do not want to be losing time from your day travelling huge distances between locations. 

A thought that often happens last minute and one you wouldn’t usually consider having to think about when choosing your dream location is parking. If your ceremony is being conducted in a church or registry office, often there can be a lot of car parking restrictions. Why not hire a vintage double decker bus to move guests from one location to another? It saves them getting lost, no angry traffic wardens and can help build on the celebratory atmosphere.

If you have fallen in love with a venue because of its outside location make sure you have a Plan B. We can’t guarantee the weather. If you have your heart set on an outdoor wedding, make sure you are happy before you book with the alternative arrangements if it looks set to rain. Can the ceremony be moved inside? Can a small marque be hired last minute to cover the ceremony or reception area?

Outdoor wedding ceremony
Marque wedding venue

Visit your venue or stalk their Social Media to see how the venue evolves at different times of year. What do the grounds look like during the spring? Do they put any Christmas decorations up in winter, if so do you like them? Do they have a shutdown to refresh the site? Booking after this could ensure the venue is in pristine condition for your day? 

dressed wedding venue
Outside wedding venue
setting at wedding venue
Outside of castle wedding venue
Wedding venue flowers on the wall

Most importantly visit your venue. Most will hold open days or wedding fairs. This is a great opportunity to see the venue dressed and more than just a blank canvas. Meet some of their trusted suppliers and have a good snoop around. Have a look at how the venue has been previously styled. How have different photographers, florists and stylists utilised and captured the space.

If you are looking for venue inspiration why not look through my work and see the locations they have I shot in previously and love. Wedding blogs are also great for finding wow locations. They featured styled shoots and real weddings and can provide great inspiration whilst on the venue hunt.

Wedding venue door
Choosing your wedding venue

From spending time with my couples and learning about how they choose their venue, most describe a feeling of excitement. Of entering a venue and being overwhelmed with happiness. Follow your heart and gut when you’re choosing your wedding venue. If it doesn’t feel right walk away.

The venue you choose will shape the rest of your wedding so it shouldn’t be forced. Most importantly don’t let the process of choosing the venue stress you. It should be an enjoyable and exciting experience.