A wedding photographer’s scattered thoughts on venues.

It’s the location chosen for your family and friends to gather and wish you well. It’s also often the most expensive, stressful and complicated decision you will make for your special day. I haven’t built a comprehensive guide to booking a location, but I do have some thoughts.

I’m a pretty practical person. I know most Utah photographers are slightly annoyed when they book clients who are opting to have their reception in an LDS cultural hall. I happen to have mad respect for people who buck stereotypes in an effort to save a massive amount of money. On the other hand, I totally understand not wanting a reception that involves collapsable walls and basketball hoops. (I wrote a whole post about cultural hall weddings check it out here.)

Location, location, location…..such an annoying phrase that gets thrown around anytime somebody is moving. Even though the space will be rented for just a day, location is everything. Not having to make a journey across the valley from one place to another is a major reason people pay a premium to have a reception close to Temple Square. If the group of humans your sending you invites to are spread across three counties it might be nice of you to pick a place that is centrally located. If you and your future ball and chain grew up in the same area, it’s almost rude to ask your entire community of neighbors to drive more than ten minutes to give you a hug and hopefully drop off a check stuffed envelope. With that said, if you’re ok killing the convenience factor, ski lodges are often decent deals on spaces with stellar views.

Nothing makes a venue feel special like big ass windows that let in tons of natural light. The walls just sing when that sunlight bounces off of them and the reception photos will be stunning. On long summer days when the sun isn’t gone till 9:30 a room with windows may be 100% worth the cost. But if you’re getting married in December, those big windows are just a pieces of glass separating you from the cold black air – So you might want to opt for a space that’s a little cozier.

I understand why different venues implement different rules. It can be to save them headaches and protect the property, but sometimes it’s just so they can make even more money. All of the information I have about this aspect of booking a location is second hand. I just feel obligated to issue a warning to be aware of sneaky fees for things like napkins and linens, if there are restrictions on caterers those costs need to analyzed, And most importantly look out for jerks holding the keys to your reception hall.

Finally how much effort are you going to have to put in to decorate this venue? Depending on your style some places may need a few centerpieces. Others may need a whole lot more. Going with a venue just because it’s cheap, could push you to blow your budget on decorations. Picking a venue is complicated, there are lots of variables. You gotta put in the leg work to make sure you’re making the best decision.





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