How To Choose The Perfect Wedding Venue | Lisa Staff Photography

February 12, 2022

Your wedding venue has the ability to make or break your wedding, which is why choosing your location wisely is absolutely imperative. But how do you know what to look for? No pressure, right? But not to worry. I’m here to give you a few of the tips that I have learned from working with some amazing event planners and having photographed hundreds of weddings. Really. Hundreds. And there’s nothing like experience and working with incredibly talented teams to teach you a thing or two. According to several of the Lowcountry wedding industry leaders, there doesn’t have to be any pressure—especially with their tips at your disposal.

These criteria will ultimately make or break any prospective venues. They’ll help you formulate questions ahead of any tours—and should also serve as a final checklist before you sign any contracts. In the end, it’s all about making sure that the venue you choose is the one that will deliver what your dream wedding is.

So let’s start ticking off all of the boxes to help you make that decision.

Start Early and Lock in that Date

Getting married on a Saturday? Are you in a climate where the season for conducive weather is short? This will vastly affect the availability of dates. If you want that perfect Saturday date then be prepared to reserve it a year ahead (or more). 

But here is a mind-blowing idea. If you are not set on the event necessarily being on a Saturday then you have just opened up a whole new world. Literally, the sky is the limit. You can have the flexibility of choosing your date as well as budget perks. In most instances, there are incentives to book dates other than a Saturday.

Select a location that suits your wedding style

What’s your vibe and your style? Consider this first because that decision will trickle down into all of your other decisions. What’s your style? Are you traditional and classic? Bohemian? Rustic? Casual?

Are you planning an indoor or outdoor event? Or maybe a bit of both. Church or outdoor ceremony? These criteria will ultimately make or break any prospective venues. They’ll help you formulate questions ahead of any tours—and should also serve as a final checklist before you sign any contracts. It’s all about making sure that the venue you choose ticks all of the boxes.

Choosing a Location That Suits Your Needs

Now that you have your date and your style locked in let’s consider a few more things.

What’s your ideal guest count. You will need to know this before booking a venue. A venue too big or too small can ruin everything. And, yes, too big can make your party feel small, lost, and insignificant. Size is everything.

Some questions to ask yourself are –

  • Are you thinking of having an all in one location for the ceremony and the reception? 
  • Accessibility. How easy is it for guest to find it and get there
  • Is there a bridal suite for your party to get ready in
  • Accommodations for out of town guests
  • Is catering, bar and staffing available or do you need to look outside of the venue
  • Parking for guests
  • Travel to and from the ceremony to the reception and possibly to the hotel where out of town guests are being lodged
  • What lighting and equipment is included or available for rent
  • Licenses needed
  • Noise restrictions as well as light restrictions. In many environmentally conscious coastal towns these restrictions are in place and the outdoor festivities need to be concluded by 10 pm
  • And let’s not forget a big one…. Budget! Don’t be afraid to discuss money and where you have allotted it. You may have to revise your budget along the way but sometimes you can rob Peter to pay Paul. And as a photographer let’s just be clear on the fact that I am all in for you making sure that you have a visual story of your day that captures the magnificence of your wedding day and your love. If that means you don’t have monogrammed matchbooks, you are not going to miss them.
Hilton Head, Beaufort, Bluffton and Savannah Wedding photographer Lisa Staff Photography

The 411 on Event Planners

Behind every good event is a great event planner and their staff. There are so many little details that go into planning your wedding, and your event planner has skillfully navigated through all of them as well as knows the venues that you are considering. They can bring to light a multitude of things that you would never consider thus making your event and the planning of it less stressful, more beautiful than you could have imagined and save you time as well as money. I’ve had clients make requests for things that they never thought possible come into fruition by their event planning team.

Your event planner will be your dream maker, problem solver, and therapist all wrapped into one. Make sure that you connect with this person because they will be the force behind making your vision a reality. Ask the big questions, hammer out timelines, details, dreams, concerns. Nothing should be off the table for your big day. And listen to their perspective. Their experience, creativity, and expertise are what you are paying for and they have the ability to navigate and think outside of the box in ways that you would never have imagined.

Site Visit

When you’re touring the space for the first time, you should feel like you have all of the information regarding the sizing of the space, prices, possibilities and should be able to get answers to almost any question you can come up with.

Revisit your original plan and make sure that your vision is still aligned with this potential venue.

A Backup Plan

Make sure that you have a solid understanding of all of the “what ifs”.  That includes rain, natural disasters, Covid. Have a backup plan and have a contract that spells all of that out.

Photo Opportunities

Of course, this can’t be forgotten and I may think that this is the most important of them all. If you choose a venue that is already gorgeous, with the bonus of plenty of photo opportunities then there are so many perks. Yes, your wedding photographs will be amazing but there is more than that.

  • You save time traveling somewhere to take the photographs which can eat up a good chunk of the day. When people say that it’s like herding cats they aren’t lying
  • You don’t need to leave your guests for a long duration. They as well as you still feel like you are part of the festivities
  • You don’t need to align additional transportation to get to the said “perfect location” because you are already there
  • You won’t miss out on your fabulous cocktail hour with your featured “signature cocktail”.

Creating Magic and Having the Perfect Wedding Day

The images that I am showcasing here in this blog check off all of the boxes of how intentionally choosing the right venue, planning and asking the right questions, partnering with the best wedding professionals and a team of experts can make all of the difference.

The Mitchelville Beach House is clearly one of my favorites for all of these reasons and partnering with people that are aligned with the same goals and vision as yours, always elevates the results. I’m always excited to work with these kinds of professionals.

Why did I love this event so much? Because it was totally aligned with the bride, groom, and their family and friends. It was so easy to create magic that day. It was stress-free, totally their vibe, let their chemistry shine, and allowed them to truly celebrate their love amongst the gorgeous canopy of live oaks with the ocean view and breezes filling in the rest. There was plenty of space to allow for the delineation between the ceremony site and the reception. And did I mention the million-dollar views??


Fabulous Venue 
Mitchelville Beach House and Incredible catering and event planning by the Serg Group and Signature Catering and Events. Wedding gown by Morilee. Bridesmaid dresses by Azazie. Hair and makeup by True Beauty by Joanna Marie, All decor by Amazing Event Rentals. DJ Lowcountry Events

This event was designed by the uber impressive team at Signature Catering and Events and the Serg Group.

Feel free to reach out to ask me any questions.  And you can see more of this team’s brilliance here, here and here.

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