How to make the most of the amazing wedding venue you’re about to book!

Wedding venues have been on my mind rather a lot recently. I see lots of weddings on blogs where the venue takes a bit of a back seat. Maybe it’s the blogs; maybe it’s the magazines too! But there’s a danger that what we see (or don’t see) in the wedding media can mislead us. Don’t let your magnificent, quirky, charming or historic wedding venue fade into the background on your big day!

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Photo credit: David Stubbs Photography

Bring out the best of your wedding venue with great photography

I had a little chat about venues with my wedding photographer friend Martin Hambleton. He was involved in a photo shoot at gorgeous Arley Hall in Cheshire with three other fabulous wedding photographers, and we asked them all to share their thoughts on wedding venues as well as some stunning images from inside the stately home.

In his email Martin said, “The venue is tantamount to being a guest at the wedding to me!  Couples spend a long time visiting and choosing, and I think they’re done a disservice if the venue isn’t properly used on the day by the photographer.  Especially if it’s somewhere as splendid as Arley.”

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Photo credit: Martin Hambleton

Choose a photographer with the skills to make your venue shine!

It’s important to be aware of the light in your wedding venue. A historic country house might have lovely little windows in thick stone walls and your ceremony may be lit by small lamps or even candlelight. A good wedding photographer will be able to produce fantastic photographs even in low light. (A bad one will stick a big flash gun in the top of his or her camera and imitate strobe lighting during your ceremony!) It’s important to find a wedding photographer – like those featured today – who can get you brilliant photos even if your venue doesn’t have the brightest lighting. So don’t be afraid to ask directly: what happens if it’s a gloomy day and the light is poor? A good photographer will work with the lighting conditions, creating atmospheric images or managing the light available – and it’s down to you to discover which approach you love most!

With thanks to Martin Hambleton, Andrew Billington, David Stubbs and Johnboy Wilson, all wedding photographers, and to Melanie from The Case of the Curious Bride and Ivory Tuesday.

I hope you’ll find this feature interesting – and maybe it will convince you to nudge your photographer and make sure the venue you’ve spent so much on will be a big feature in the memories of your wedding day. Enjoy!

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Create a sense of occasion and location – your venue can be just as important as your bridesmaid!

To me, a venue is like a member of the bridal party. Most couples visit a large number of different venues until they find THE one. They invest a lot of thought and time into choosing what’s right for them and, let’s be honest, a good venue will cost a lot of money too. So I regard it as an important part of my job to get some great images of the venue as well as everything else I capture on the wedding day.”

The choice of venue has a huge impact on the mood of the entire wedding. A stately home wedding is very different to one in a boutique hotel or a tipi in a field. Each is wonderful in its own way; each has been chosen for what it says about the couple getting married; each reflects the style and taste of the bride and groom. So I think it’s important to get that into the images, including the portraits that I’ll shoot of the couple. These will be the centerpiece of a wedding album, some of the most looked at and cherished images, so I want to give them a sense of the location and occasion when they look back on them many years in the future.” Cheshire wedding photographer Martin Hambleton

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Did you fall in love with the atmosphere of your wedding venue? A library can be the perfect backdrop for images which reflect your personalities… Photo credit: Martin Hambleton

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Photo credit: Martin Hambleton

Think dancefloor  and (doorways) first – they’ll be the social hub of your wedding venue!

Choosing a venue is mainly about the look, style and feel of the place but another important factor to consider when choosing your venue is the number of guests you’ll be inviting. This is critical for the success of your dancefloor in the evening. If the room is too big then no matter how many guests there are, your party will look empty.”

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Keep the party moving with a dancefloor where the doors overlook a patio or gardens. Photo credit: Johnboy Wilson

It’s important to remember that guests like to float around too, especially the smokers. If you have a lot of smokers in your friends and family it is essential to hire a venue where they don’t have to go too far out of the way because by the end of the night you may have more of your guests in the smoking area than on the dancefloor and that could be a disaster. So a smaller room can often be better when it comes to the evening reception and one that has an outdoor and indoor option such as a tipi wedding can help to keep the wedding party together and keep the dancefloor full for the whole night.Manchester wedding photographer Johnboy Wilson

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Photo credit: Johnboy Wilson

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Photo credit: Johnboy Wilson

Let your gorgeous venue star alongside you in documentary style wedding photos, and provide a characterful backdrop in your posed shots

Most couples plan their whole day around their dream wedding venue. The wedding venue is the single most important wedding planning decision a you will make. Venues are chosen for many different reasons, such as capacity, the food, the staff, whether it has accommodation, but most commonly because of how it looks. No couple walks into a potential venue and thinks, ‘this is average… we’ll have our wedding here’.

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Make the most of your venue’s features, both subtle and striking. Photo credit: David Stubbs

It’s because it’s impressive, or has character, something for guests to talk about long after the wedding. This is why wedding venues should be utilised heavily in the wedding photos. A good documentary wedding photographer will be able to feature key aspects of any venues in the natural style photos. When you are having your photos together, the venue can be used in all its glory.Manchester wedding photographer David Stubbs

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Photo credit: David Stubbs

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Photo credit: David Stubbs

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Photo credit: David Stubbs

Watch for out of the way corners – your venue should have character even where you hardly notice until you see your beautiful photographs!

For me the portraiture on a wedding day should always put the bride and groom in the context of their day. People often spend a long time choosing their venue and not to use it as a backdrop on the day would seem strange to me.

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The little details – oak panels, carved chairs or the way light falls in a dark corner can make for exceptional photos of your wedding. Photo credit: Andrew Billington

Stunning staircases, imposing entrances and beautiful gardens always lend themselves to striking photographs but it can also be the little details and the out of the way corners that can provide the most interesting and personal portraits on the day. A portrait is about the bride and groom and their relationship to each other foremost but adding the context of time and place elevates it. It becomes a moment in their lives that will only happen once, never to be repeated.Staffordshire wedding photographer Andrew Billington

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Photo credit: Andrew Billington

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Photo credit: Andrew Billington

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Photo credit: Andrew Billington

This bridal shoot features stunning wedding dresses and accessories from The Case of the Curious Bride. Dresses are by Erica Stacey and The Case of the Curious Bride – I’ll be running a full feature about the dresses and this fabulous bridal shop very soon! Accessories are by the wonderful Ivory Tuesday. For close ups and more information about these gorgeous bridal styles, keep coming back to the English Wedding Blog… I’ll share more in a day or two! Be back soon, lovelies! xx

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.



  • Andrew Billington
    7 years ago

    Thanks Claire – the article looks great 🙂

  • Karen Julia
    7 years ago

    Great article & so true!

  • Martinhambleton
    7 years ago

    Looks good Claire. And those guys sound very wise …

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