While there are a lot of great venues out there, a lot of wedding-related venues typically host 1-3 weddings a weekend and it's easy to get lost in the shuffle and feel like you don't matter. They can get pricey for just hours out of the day and offer zero amenities. There's a lot of rules involved, which can be limiting - examples include preferred vendors that you may feel like you have to settle for, ending the party at 11:00 PM just as it starts to get weird and fun, capacity (too low - too high). Again, this does not apply to all venues! But there are so many wonderful alternatives to consider, and I have listed just a few of those below to give you an idea.
01. The Venue Report - The Venue Report has some terrific recommendations for venues that are anti-wedding factory and still provide that curated, selective atmosphere. It provides a detailed "low down" of the practical things - fees involved, capacity, personal inside scoops, style keywords, notable features and more. It doesn't limit itself to a specific idea and includes some really interesting insight - wanna go glamping for a week and celebrate with your loved ones in Morocco? How does an outdoor wedding under the open sky in a nature sanctuary in the hills of California sound? The Venue Report has you covered.
02. Airbnb, VRBO - They exist for more than just a place to sleep and can provide you with something totally unique at a shockingly affordable price. These are ideal for elopements and smaller gatherings and come in the shape of mid-century homes, castles, romantic gardens and bungalows, villas, cottages on the edge of a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains, ranches. The options are so varied and can accommodate any personality. There's a lot more DIY aspect in the coordination of the wedding day, but if you like being hands-on and have a streamlined vision, this is gold.
03. National Parks - A classic that will never be out-of-fashion. There are so many breathtaking parks from the east to the west coast in the United States and guests will love the change in pace. Want to get married on a cliff looking over Yosemite Valley? Maybe in front of the sweeping views at the Badlands, or perhaps the coastal beauty that is Big Sur? All you need is a permit! Many national parks also have pavilions you can rent out for post-ceremony and can accommodate large groups of people. If your wedding is smaller, you can follow your ceremony with a picnic or move your party to a nearby Airbnb or boutique hotel. National park weddings are a personal favorite because there are so many different options - it's a blank slate, so every decision is up to the couple. Imagery from national parks are so lovely because the couple interacts more with their environment, making their wedding location feel relevant and exciting at the same time.
04. Private Residence - A really great way to give your guests more insight to who you are as a couple. Some of my favorite weddings have been at the personal homes of my couples (or their childhood homes or the dwellings of family friends that accommodate more people). It gives me so much information to work with and exudes intimacy. String some globe lights, have your closest friend officiate, bring in your local taqueria to cater and invite your neighbors so you can play the music as loud as you want. It's a great way to support local shops. Everything is on your terms - you can have your ceremony at dusk, get ready with your partner in the bedroom you share and have zero worries about travel. Throw the best party your home will ever witness.
Apart from the location, the way your ceremony is set up impacts how dynamic those images are. The ceremony is an important event of the day and can be incredibly emotional. However, a lot of movement doesn't happen at this time since it is more about the words and often happens in front of sitting people. It is my intention to provide images that fluidly document this moment and the more liberty that I have to move around, the better. I like to be as inconspicuous as I can possibly be and will rarely ever step out in front of a guest, especially parents and siblings. Small spaces that don't allow for any movement without impeding the vows or making guests painfully aware of my presence limits angles and how close I can get. If getting married indoors, consider arranging chairs so they are not up against walls - this gives me more than one aisle to get close and doesn't interrupt the views of guests. The idea is that people will remember the ceremony for the words and emotions - not the photographer irritating guests and being the center of attention.
As a photographer who shoots with a more documentary approach rather than editorial, I love and appreciate all forms of light and try my best to keep light as honest as possible in a photograph. If you get ready under fluorescent lighting, that means your images will have flourescent lighting. If your wedding timeline places portraits at high noon, that means you'll get strong shadows in your bridal portrait photos. If your reception is hosted under globe lights, that means you'll get moody, warm reception images. Think about what you want your images to look like - take the time to consider the light you want present and plan your timeline around that. Consider non-traditional times of the day to keep your wedding fresh & different. Don't limit yourself to a copy & paste timeline. Get married at sunrise! Have portraits in the blue hour (after the sun goes down). Have your reception under the stars & string lights. I often collaborate with my clients on this because they know what light and feel they want, but are unsure of what time of day to plan events. Good wedding images are collaborative. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Light is what drives my day-to-day, so this is something I love talking about.
This is a list of carefully selected vendors that provide something fresh and a little different. Any professional is somebody that I or my clients have personally enjoyed working with. If you're still in the beginning stages and need some inspiration, check out my Pinterest for alternative & interesting ideas.