One of the things I do insist on doing with my wedding couple is a wedding venue viewing. Many couples feel that this is not a necessary step until they do it so I thought it was worth writing down some of the advantages.
1.The wedding venue was chosen for a reason. This reflects your personal style and taste for your big day. The photographer needs to capture the essence of the venue to be able to tell the story in full. By meeting with the wedding couple before the big day you can go over why they chose that venue and what draws you as a couple to it. There may be certain visual elements that really capture your imagination.
2. Seeing the bridal suite where the bride will get ready is important. you need to see the lighting and space available here as well as establish how many people will be in the room. Prepping the bride to make sure it stays clear of clutter etc and where to hang the dress etc ready will also save time on the big day and make sure things run more smoothly.
3. the ceremony area. This is by far one of the most imperative. You cannot stop the ceremony halfway through to get a better shot. So for me as the photographer i really need to know where the officiant will stand, where the couple will stand, will he face you to the crowd? Will your bridesmaids and groomsmen stand or be seated? is there enough space for me and the videographer if there is one? Is it possible to create more space? what is the lighting like? if its an outdoor ceremony this needs to be seen at the same time of day as the ceremony will be . Because shadows and lights at that time of day can be very challenging and may affect your photos so we need to see how we can work around it. In addition – How will everyone walk down the aisle? timing of this is also important to make sure each individual has a photo walking down the aisle especially with lots of bridesmaids and groomsmen. Finally coaching is needed for putting on the ring to get the right shot and the final kiss- well lets just make sure its a long one 🙂
4. scouting out an area for the family photos and couple photos. Again lighting is important here. But more essentially it gives me a sense of what backdrops and scenery there is around. As well as textures and elements that can create great shots. If I can see this before the wedding it really allows me to plan what shots i want to do and helps this process flow better on the day. After all you only have about half an hour as you dont want to keep your guests waiting so this really needs to be done timeously and without any delays. The more prepared I can be the less time wasted and the better quality photos you will get out of it. Its also important to incorporate what the couple wants – I may have a different vision and can discuss this with them, but if they want something different we can discuss this beforehand and make sure they are getting the photos and backdrops they want. It is after all their wedding.
5. the reception hall. It is again important to see lighting and space in this area. It is also important to know where the bridal couple will enter, and where the speeches will be so that i can set up lighting beforehand and cause minimal distraction on the day.
6. Finally If i have not been to the venue before it is very important to get the location right. There is no time to get lost on the day. So by going to the venue beforehand you can make sure you have the right location, you know exactly where the bridal suite, ceremony, reception etc will be held (some venues have multiple receptions etc) And I do not need to phone the bride or groom with more issues when they already may be quite stressed out . I can quietly and routinely go through my shots and make sure I am getting everything we have discussed in our pre wedding meeting and venue viewing.
I hope this helps clear the air as many people do not feel this is a necessary step . I for one think this is definitely a must. I dont charge for my time for a venue viewing only the travel. it may cost a bit extra but when you are already investing money into your wedding photos this is a very small amount to make sure you are getting the greatest “return” on your investment.