Maybe you’ve already booked your wedding venue, or maybe you’re dreading the whole ordeal. Wherever you are in the process there is always something else to consider. One more thing that you need to ask about, look into, or examine. From lighting to total occupancy to catering and bar service; It never ends, right? Well, we can help. After several years of photographing at North Louisiana wedding venues, we’ve picked up a thing or two from our brides – things they are glad they did and things they regret. So, we turned them into a list. Hopefully this will help you out a bit with getting started or even if you are already well into the process.
#1 Decide Which is More Important to You: The Perfect Venue or The Perfect Date
Congratulations! You’re engaged! Enjoy the moment. But know that, eventually, you have to set a date. We don’t make the rules. (In fact, we aren’t sure who does, actually. It’s a mystery.) Some couples pick a specific date that is important to them, some choose according to month or season, and some couples go off of how long they want to be engaged. There is no one way to do it, but the date of your wedding can influence several factors that come into play when booking a venue – including cost and availability. Case in point: You have decided to get married on October 20th, but after calling your top venues, you discover that they are already booked. Or maybe they are available, but outside of your venue budget. Now, if your date is more important than the venue, you can safely move on to finding alternate locations. However, if you absolutely MUST HAVE one of your top choices, you may be able to book one on a different date and potentially save some money. Since October is during the Fall wedding season, many venues book up those Saturdays far in advance. BUT, many venues also have difficulty filling their schedules on Fridays or off-peak season Saturdays. If the venue is more important than the specific date, then you may have just found your solution; move your date to get your venue. And as a potential bonus, many venues offer different rates for Friday. Sunday, or off-peak season weddings. You may be able to get both, your date and your venue, it does happen. But it can be rare. By deciding which is the priority, you up your odds of making it happen. And we truly hope that the odds will be ever in your favor!
#2 Decide (Approximately) How Many People to Invite
If you are having a difficult time narrowing down your list of possible venues – there are a lot of really cool wedding venues in North Louisiana – this can help you to quickly rule some out. Most venues will give you an idea of their maximum occupancy on their website or Facebook page and the numbers can vary by as much as several hundred people from venue to venue. If you know that you are having a large wedding, some venues simply will not be able to accommodate the number of people you want to invite. Of course, this could also help you narrow your list of people to invite if you really love a venue . . . or if you have a lot of folks on the invite list “bubble.” The opposite can also be true: too few people in a huge venue can make it look empty or sparse.
#3 Visit Your Favorite Venues Before Booking
Okay, this one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s also the one a lot of couples skip. And we get it; You’re busy. Modern life doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room in our crazy schedules, so yeah, it can be hard to make time to go and visit a venue that you already know you love and/or is available on your date. But trust us, even if you just have time for a quick “pop-in” you’ll be glad you did it. Visiting the venue in person will give you a much better idea of how everything will flow on your wedding day. You’ll be able to see and understand where people will be when. And that can be very helpful when scheduling the different events that typically take place at a wedding, i.e. bouquet and garter tosses, first dance, best man and maid of honor toasts, etc. Not to mention the ceremony itself if you are getting married at the venue. If possible, you should also ask your wedding planner/decorator to go with you when touring the site. You will get a ton of ideas for things you can do and how to decorate just by looking around a bit. Naturally, you should schedule any visit with the venue’s management. We don’t recommend showing up unannounced . . . ya’ know, just in case. And take a notebook, you’ll need it.
#4 Follow the Light!
We may be a LITTLE biased here, but believe this one is SUPER imortant. When you are visiting the venue, pay attention to where the sun is when. Ask yourself: Where is the light? Where are the shadows? Will I want pictures of that area? Will the ceremony be in full shadow or sun during our first kiss? Where will people gather? Planning with the light in mind increases the number of stunning images you get back from your photographer. Now, it is true that modern photographers have a lot of equipment, experience, andplain ol’ tricks to help us get great shots no matter what the light is doing. So much of what we do is controlling and manipulating light. But wedding photography involves a lot of different skills, not the least of which is anticipation on your photographers’ part. And, frankly, just a little bit of planning for the light goes a looooooong way. We aren’t saying that you should plan your wedding around your photography. But you may want to plan your wedding around your photography. 🙂
#5 Check the Chapel First
This is another one that seems fairly obvious, but we’ve heard our share of horror stories. A lot of couples choose to have their ceremony in a church before heading to their venue for the reception. See where we are going with this? If you are getting married in a church beforehand, check the availability of their chapel(s) before finalizing any details with your venue. You absolutely do NOT want to book the perfect venue only to find out your church is unavailable on that date. Unless the specific church doesn’t matter to you, but it probably does.
#6 Location and Catering Thoughts
The issue of location largely revolves around transportation for your guests. First you need to decide if you want to provide transportation for your guests. If so, the potential issues that come with driving and parking (or even flying) may be averted. For your guests, anyway. But if there’s no room in your budget, then you will need to know where and how much parking is available. Pro tip: look into public transportation and whether or not it stops at or near the venue. Also, some venues may not be equipped to accommodate certain types of catering or require the use of a specific caterer. In the latter instance, a venue required caterer could potentially alter the portion of your budget that you have set aside. If something unexpected comes up, you may be able to work with the caterer and venue to find a “happy medium,” but it pays to find out in advance.
#7 Ask Everyone Everything
There is so much to know and learn about all of the different North Louisiana wedding venues. In fact, off the top of your head, you could probably make a list of 50 questions without trying. And then think of more later. So start asking! Literally ask anyone you can think to ask. And not just the detail specific questions. You can often rule out a venue – or add it to the “must visit list” – just by asking friends and family if they have ever attended an event there and what their general feeling was. Did they have a good time? Was the staff professional/helpful? How was the parking? When it comes to the more specific questions the venue management is a good place to start, but don’t limit yourself to their employees; be sure to ask your wedding planner, your photographer, or anyone else you have already contracted to be a part of your wedding. And wear Google out! Visit venue websites, read blog posts, search for reviews and recommendations for your area. Brides really have an advantage here with the number of resources at your disposal, so use as many as you can. Remember, this is your wedding and you deserve to have the event that you want, so if you don’t know, ask!
#8 Don’t Rule Out “Full Service” Options
Hang on! Don’t move on to the next one yet! Choosing between the “a la carte” path – booking the venue, caterer, DJ, etc. separately – or the “all-in-one” path might seem like a choice between MORE or LESS expensive options, but that is not always the case. Before you decided to pass on the “full service” plan, take a good look what services the venue is offering and at what price. Then compare that to a combined total of those services from your individual vendors. The “all inclusive” plan might just be cheaper. And, it could head off any headaches you might get from dealing with multiple contacts across multiple wedding services. It’s not always the better option price wise, but it could be. It’s definitely worth checking out.
#9 Take a Deep Breath and Relax (Or Try To)
No matter what, you should try to relax and have fun! Yes, you have a lot to do. And yes, there are a things that you need to find out. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy it. Remember, you are the client when it comes to dealing with individual venues and the vast majority will be more than happy to take care of any concerns or answer any questions that you might have – they want YOU as a customer, after all. So, don’t think of picking your venue as work, think of it as exploring all of your options. Make a day of it. Invite some of your friends/bridesmaids/family to go with you after brunch or before meeting your significant others for dinner. The bottom line is, this is all about you and what you want, so don’t put extra pressure on yourself. Have fun!
Did That Help You With North Louisiana Wedding Venues?
Ok, so that’s a little bit of what we have learned after working with wedding venues across North Louisiana. We really hope that one or more of these tips help you out. This can be a confusing time with everything there is to learn, and we want to help as much as we can.
But if there is one thing that we would like you to know about us, it is that we believe relationships are what make wedding photography work. Not fancy technology and gadgets. Not shiny frames and products. We use those things and we offer those things, but nothing compares to building personal relationships. It adds depth of emotion, character, to every picture we take, and it’s just irreplaceable. That’s why we strive to offer a truly boutique experience to all of our clients. We want to send you a “Happy Anniversary” card ten years from now. We want to stop and say hello when we see you on the street. You don’t have to get your guest room ready for us to move in, but we want to actually know you; so you can get our best. Thanks for visiting! We hope to see you again soon!