He popped the question and you said yes!! So begins your wedding planning. There is so much to think about and so much planning to do. One of the most important decisions to make is where to have your wedding and what venue to choose. I see so many couples struggle with this not knowing where to begin and how to go about choosing their wedding venue.
Yale College-New Haven, Connecticut
To help you choose the right venue you want to narrow down your wedding venue by the following questions or filters. These basic questions can help you to zoom in on what venue will best fit your needs.
Loundsbury House-Ridgefield, Connecticut
Location: This question will help narrow down your venue choices. Do you want your venue to be by the ocean? Do you want it to be in the mountains? Do you want it to be on a farm, barn or rustic setting or in a castle? How about having your wedding in a grand and elegant ballroom or hall, a historic Connecticut mansion or intimate historic restaurant setting? Connecticut has so many choices and varieties for wedding locations. I think one of the best of any state in the USA.
Saint Clements Castle-Portland Connecticut
Theme or style: This question builds on question 1. What theme, style or kind of wedding do you want? These days wedding have taken on many kinds of styles and themes that match your personalities and likes. Do you want a rustic wedding, vintage wedding, traditional wedding or nautical theme?
Webb Barn-Wethersfield, Connecticut
Backyard Barn and Tent Wedding-West Hartford, Connecticut
Ceremony location: Where did you want to have your wedding ceremony? In a church, outdoor setting on the beach, park or at the venue location? Some venues have ceremony sites on location and are better suited for an on-site ceremony. Some venues are not well equipped for on-site ceremonies. When looking at venues make sure to ask and see the ceremony sites. Is that what you were looking for? If you are getting married in a church then this isn’t an issue regarding the venue.
The Water's Edge-Westbrook, Connecticut
Catholic Church-Bridgeport Connecticut
Red Barn at Hampshire College-Amherst Massachusetts
The Heritage Hotel-Southbury, Connecticut
Getting ready location: Did you want getting ready shots and if so did you want them at the venue or elsewhere such as a hotel or home? This is another important question to ask the venue as well as see for yourself. Does the venue have a bridal suite or place for getting ready shots and what does it look like? Some venues have great bridal suites and others can be downright awful! I have some stories about venue bridal suites being in everything from locker rooms to basements, offices filled with stacked up boxes and attics that you could barely stand in. Is there a bridal suite for both guys and girls or just one suite? These are all important questions to ask and see for yourself before choosing a venue.
Wood Acres Farm-Terryville, Connecticut
Portrait location: Wedding portraits are a big part of your wedding venue. Everyone is going to look great and family will be here from near and far. You want to take the time for photos of the bride and groom as well as the wedding party and family photos. Does your venue have a nice setting or grounds and scenery for portraits? Ask and check them out. Some venues have elaborate grounds and stunning landscapes, gardens and grounds. Some venues only have a parking lot. Some people choose to have portraits off site of the venue such as on a beach, or in a state or local park. If you have a specific and meaningful place for your portraits how far is it away from your venue and or ceremony location? These are things to factor in when deciding on which venue to choose.
Topsmead State Park-Litchfield, Connecticut
Water's Edge-Westbrook, Connecticut
Size of your wedding: How many guests will be coming to your wedding and what is the size of your bridal party? Some wedding venues are better suited to smaller groups or will have a guest limit for comfortable seating. Some venues are able to comfortably hold hundreds of people. Choosing a venue that will comfortably fit the number of your wedding guests will make all the difference. You want to have space for the tables, dancing, sweetheart table, bridal party table D.J. booth, etc. without being too cramped.
Jackie Durrell Pavillion-Fairfield Beach Connecticut
The Heritage Hotel-Southbury, Connecticut
Food and service: What is the food like? There can be a wide variety of levels from the best to terrible! Going to a sample night at the venue can be a great way to get a taste of the food. Will they have menu options to suit your taste and dietary needs of your guests? How well equipped is the venue to be able to prepare and serve the number of guests that are in attendance. Can they feed the number of guests you have comfortably and how long does it take to serve the guests. Does the venue provide a cake in their package or did you want to have a custom cake made by an amazing baker? These are good questions to ask the venue or catering company if that is the case. You want to find these things out sooner then after the fact.
Wedding Cakes for You-Lorelie Carvey, New Milford, Connecticut
Grand Oak Villa-Oakville, Connecticut
Time of the year and weather: What month will your wedding be taking place in? What will the weather be like then? What will the surrounding scenery be like? What are the facilities such as ceremony location in the case of bad weather, heating, air conditioning, cover from rain, wind etc.? You may have your heart set on an outdoor ceremony location but what happens if it rains? It is important to have a back- up plan in advance rather than making one up the morning of your wedding day.
Price: Venues can have a wide variety of prices for their services. Does the venue fit your budget? As I mentioned some venues provide not only the meals but even a Justice of the Peace, MC, cakes, up lighting, decorations, table settings, event coordinator etc. Some venues you have to cater your own food, and take care of everything.
Crystal Peak-Winstead, Connecticut
Reviews: Reviews are a great way to get a sense of what a venue is like. Read them carefully. The Wedding Wire and The Knot are great websites to check venue reviews. They are not the only way so ask around and inquire on other non venue related wedding sites for more information.
Testas Banquet Facility-Southington, Connecticut
Venue's scheduling of weddings:
Wedding venues are in the business of making money. They can do this better by scheduling more weddings in a day by doing back to back weddings, a morning wedding and then an afternoon wedding, or having 2 or more weddings going on at the same time. It is important to keep this in mind when choosing a venue as it can affect your wedding day more then you know. Once a contract is signed changing things is not an option or can come at a high price.
So how does this affect your wedding? The venue plans your wedding day schedule and timeline not around your photography desires or needs regarding getting photos of your getting ready shots, and portraits etc. or when the lighting will be best for your photos etc. The venue works your timeline around how to fit your wedding day to their schedule of getting two weddings done in a day. This seems to affect the morning wedding as the time for getting ready shots are often shortened and the portrait time can get shortened in order to keep to the reception start time. Also, I have seen the staff start breaking down your wedding before it is over as they have 1 hour to turn the room around before the next wedding starts.
At venues where two or more weddings are happening at the same time the biggest problem is the sound from one wedding comes through the partition which separates the rooms and can adversely affect your wedding reception. There can be limited access to certain parts of the venue grounds being used by another wedding party. There can be a large gathering of guests from multiple wedding parties in hallways, corridors, bathrooms, entrance ways etc.
Choosing a venue with only 1 wedding a day gives you more flexibility with your wedding day regarding your timeline and also lends itself to a more relaxed wedding day overall.
The Riverview-Symsbury, Connecticut
Venue's arrival time on property policy:
What time before your ceremony start time your venue will allow you on property will make a huge difference not only with the photos you are able to take in the time given but also can affect your timeline and need for wedding plans at another locations on your wedding day. Let me explain. The whole reason you are often choosing a wedding venue is for the location, views, scenery, ambiance etc. But what good is it if the venue doesn't let you on property soon enough to take any photos. Most venues will let you on property only 1 hour before the ceremony. And since guest start showing up 30 minutes before your ceremony start time and the venue coordinator will cloister you away in the bridal suite 30 before the ceremony, you are only looking at 30 minutes of photo time before the ceremony. Standard "getting ready photos" take 1.5 hours and can go even longer. So 30 minutes is not sufficient time for getting getting ready photos. Another problem where this is compounded is with fall and winter weddings as the daylight becomes less. Often cocktail hour "the time for portraits" is in the dark. So that limits any possibility of doing outdoor photos at the venue at this time after the ceremony. Also if something like a "first look" or portraits before the ceremony is wanted so the couple can enjoy the cocktail hour is desired, this type of venue arrangement won't work out well. A venue that will allow you to arrive 2 to 3 hours on property before the ceremony start time allows for a lot more freedom in your wedding day timeline, more photo opportunities and less stress. If your venue can't accommodate you with this, other arrangements with a hotel, private residence, B & B can better be used for getting ready photos, and local park for portraits etc.
The Heritage Hotel-Soutbury, Connecticut
In Conclusion: Asking yourself these questions will help you narrow down and pinpoint the best wedding venue to fit you wedding needs and dreams. Happy Planning.
Working with John: As your wedding photographer, I've photographed at most of the venues in Connecticut so I can provide you with advice and a behind the scenes view of these venues. I can tell you what the food is like, what the services is like, the amenities, bridal suites, ceremony and portrait locations etc. I know the best places to get great shots as well as best way to light the varied reception locations. I factor all these things in and incorporate them into your pre-wedding planning sessions, timeline and shoot lists for the best possible wedding photos and memories. This is one of the benefits of choosing me as your photographer and something to think about when comparing photographers. This can make all the difference for great wedding day photos and memories you will cherish for a lifetime.
To learn more about me and John Munno Weddings click my about page and working with John page links:
Mill On The River-South Windsor, Connecticut