8 Tips for Choosing a Your Wedding Venue | Lynchburg Wedding Photographer


June 17, 2020


Learn more

I’m Emily! James, and I are a husband and wife wedding photography team based in Lynchburg, Virginia. We specialize in weddings & engagements and serve our EH Couples in Virginia, South Carolina, and beyond!

welcome to my blog



Create your custom wedding day timeline to have a stress free & fun wedding day. Sample timelines included for each season!



richmond wedding photographer

Wedding Planning Series | Lynchburg Wedding Photographer

After taking a break last 2 weeks, I am back continuing my weekly wedding planning series with you guys!! The past month or so I have been sharing tips and advice for choosing your wedding vendors! I received a lot of questions specifically about venues so I thought I would share my tips for choosing your ideal wedding venue!

In addition to those tips, I am putting together some of my favorite venues in different areas of Virginia and possibly even another surprise location!!! Yes it is a destination place for me and I am so excited to share those with you soon!!

I know budget and guest count restrictions are really important when choosing a venue but I have a few extra things to check off that venue list that you may not have thought of!

These tips are really important to keep in mind so that your wedding photos are the best quality they can be!


Of course this one is first. It’s important to create a budget and start with the right venue. So as you google search venues near you or in a specific location start out with a budget goal. As you get pricing, make sure you consider what all is included in the price. Finding a venue that includes tables, chairs, among other things can be very helpful even the initial number might be higher than other venues!

Bonus Tip: Read the contract thoroughly and ask questions if you are unsure what something means!!

Guest Count Limitations

This one is another big thing to consider since the guest count is the other big part of the budget. Guests count affects the catering budget as well as the venue budget. Some venues can only house a certain number of guests sitting at tables. So make sure you have a max number of guests and choose a venue that comfortably fits your guests throughout the ceremony and reception.

Make sure to ask questions if your guest count is approaching the venue limit! Find out things like how the seating will look during cocktail hour and the reception. If your guests are crowded around the table that may not be a fun experience for them.

Rain Plan

This is SO IMPORTANT to consider a backup plan for the ceremony when selecting a wedding venue. We cannot predict the weather so it is always a good idea to choose a place that has a comfortable rain plan. Trust me when I say, your guests are not going to want to watch your ceremony form under an umbrella

If you choose a venue for the beautiful view and it ends up raining that day we can always get photos of you two with that backdrop so you can still have that view captured. Bad weather happens but don’t let it steal your joy! Choosing a venue that has a rain plan is the first step to stay stress free on the wedding day.

Another thing to consider is the bridal prep spaces! If there are limited windows (I’ll explain this in another tip!) I will look for a door or covered porch to do photos. If it is raining this limits my options even more for bridal prep spaces. So it’s a huge bonus if there is a bright and light colored porch to photograph you and your girls!!

Aesthetic of Venue

This one is next on the list because you have to consider your wedding theme or style. There are different wedding styles to consider. You have your country & rustic weddings, modern and urban weddings, classic & chic weddings, boho & natural elements weddings, etc. If you love the look of an estate wedding venue and want to include more rustic elements, your photos may not look like your Pinterest pins. Matching the style and theme of your wedding day will make it more likely to for your wedding to be FEATURED!!

Another thing to consider is if you have a sparkling ballgown picked out and your theme is more modern then choosing a barn venue may not be the best fit. Same goes for a more rustic country style in a city scene where the rustic aesthetic doesn’t make sense. So stick to your personality and style.

Don’t choose a place just because of pricing if it doesn’t fit you!

Ceremony Lighting

This is one thing that I, your natural light photographer, am being a bit picky about… During portraits James and I choose locations where the light is best and flatters your skin but during the ceremony we capture everything as it happens. We don’t interrupt everything to shift the entire ceremony to the best light.

So keep in mind that whatever time you choose to have your ceremony that is the light we have to work with. If that light is shining in your & your guests’ faces or only one side of your face that’s what will have to be ok.

Some venues have multiple ceremony locations to choose from, so make sure you ask questions like where does the sun set so you can get an idea of what direction the sun will be for your ceremony. They should be able to tell you where the sun sets in every season!!

Reception Layout

One thing that was important to James and I when we chose our venue was having all our guests and family in the same place. Some venues have a more separated layout where some guests congregate during the reception and cocktail hour. If this is something that doesn’t matter too much for you that is totally fine, it’s just a preference! It is still a good idea to get an idea of the layout for the dinner/buffet, dancing, and other reception events. Is the dance floor big enough to hold all your dancing friends and family? Is there a place for a live band? These things sometimes get overlooked when planning the reception out.

Bridal Suite Lighting

Lighting in the getting ready spaces is another picky natural light photographer thing. The more windows and porches at a wedding venue or getting ready space the better! Venues that are relatively new (under 5 years old) are made to hold a large group of bridal party (mirrors & makeup stations everywhere) as well as have plenty of natural light. However, the older venues with older aesthetic & decor and usually are dimly lit with minimal windows.

In the case of minimal windows, I actually take my brides to a doorway or porch to find that good light for portraits. I am so thankful my brides trust me to do this!! It does sound strange to get ready on a porch when there is a bridal suite on site. But if there are dark colored walls or busy wall paper in the bridal suite, that usually doesn’t match the wedding theme or aesthetic. So that’s why I will change the location for portraits!

If you want beautiful bridal portraits on your wedding day this tip is for you!

Variety in Portrait Locations

The last tip for today is choosing a venue that offers at least 2 views or backdrops that you LOVE for portraits. James and I create different looks with our posing, angles, and composition but it helps if there are multiple spots so your photos have variety. We will always prioritize the spots at venues with the best light but if there is access to a field, epic mountain view, garden, or willow trees that is just a bonus!!

Don’t limit yourself to a few steps away from the venue! If there is a local spot or backdrop that you would love sunset portraits at we can always squeeze in 10-15 minutes of bonus portraits during the reception to go off the property or explore the property a little more. James and I love finding the most random but beautiful portrait locations and quite often, the epic wide shots that our couples love required a 2-5 minute drive to get there! So don’t be afraid to think outside of the box for portrait locations!

If you skipped to end, here is a recap!

When choosing your venue consider the following things when touring the property and exploring their website:

  • Pricing- What is included?
  • Guest Count Limitations
  • Rain Plan
  • Aesthetic of Venue
  • Ceremony Lighting
  • Reception Layout
  • Bridal Suite Lighting
  • Variety in Portrait Locations

I hope that this information was helpful! Next week I am going to share some of my favorite Lynchburg wedding venues! You don’t want to miss out on this one!! So stay tuned!

Until next time,


richmond wedding photographer

lynchburg wedding photographer

wedding venue checklist

richmond wedding photographer

Learn more about our services here!

lynchburg wedding photographer.JPG

Hey there, I’m Emily! James, and I are a husband and wife wedding photography team based in Lynchburg, Virginia. We specialize in weddings and engagements and serve Virginia, DC Area, South Carolina, and beyond!

Browse the blog by Category:


lynchburg wedding photographer

Engaged? Download this FREE Engagement Session Planning App for your phone!

Leave a Reply

reader faves

browse by category






Tips & resources

Learn more

I’m Emily! James, and I are a husband and wife wedding photography team based in Lynchburg, Virginia. We specialize in weddings & engagements and serve our EH Couples in Virginia, South Carolina, and beyond!

welome to my blog




Create your custom wedding day timeline to have a stress free & fun wedding day. Sample timelines included for each season!



wedding day timeline GUIDE

Learn my secret to a stress free wedding day. Sample Timelines are included for each season!

free download


design by tonic