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I'm a Virginia wedding photographer based in Loudoun County. I love working with joyful couples who are crazy about wild adventures, beautiful stories and each other. Explore some of my favorite sessions below! 

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Choosing Your Wedding Venue

Newly engaged and beginning to plan? This week I’m sharing another new For Brides blog! Specially written for the newly engaged couple, I’m sharing wedding planning advice and guests articles by wedding vendors to help make your wedding planning easier. This week I’ll be sharing one of my favorite topics to discuss  – choosing your wedding venue!

Maybe you’ve already started to consider a few. Virginia, D.C. and Maryland have so many to choose from! As a Northern Virginia wedding photographer, I’ve seen a wide range of venues from vineyards and farms to historic homes and gardens. As you begin browsing online, and eventually begin to tour in person, here are a few factors you’re going to want to consider!

 

1. Date and Budget

The very first thing you’re going to want to check on is if a venue fits in your budget. There are a lot of great resources online that can give you an idea of where a venue falls in cost. While it might not be an exact pricing guide you should be able to get an idea on if the venues you’re picking out are ones you can realistically afford. Do your research ahead of time because there’s nothing more difficult than falling in love with a venue and finding out that it’s just not going to be a possibility.

The same goes for your date! If you have a wedding date that’s near and dear to your heart, maybe an anniversary or special numerical sequence, you should check this with venues before you even go to tour. Otherwise, I recommend being flexible! Pick out a few dates that you might be interested in, but be open to changing. If you love a venue you can ask them what dates are still open on their calendar and work on picking out a date based around their schedule.

 

2. Guest Count

Your guest list actually plays a huge role in all your wedding planning details! It will determine how many plates to order from catering, the number of centerpieces for your reception and many more things. However, it is a huge factor to consider when picking out your venue. All venues have limitations to how many guests they can hold and are not allowed to exceed that number. As you tour ask them how many people they can hold. Some may be be meant for small, intimate weddings and limit it to only 100 guests or less. Other venues are meant for huge parties and can seat over 200!

 

3. Style

In the end your venue’s style is really all about your personal preference. What kind of couple are you? If you’re planning a classic wedding you might gravitate to mostly indoor venues, like ballrooms, country clubs or upscale hotels. Planning on a more rustic affair or have a love of the outdoors? Northern Virginia has a wide variety of wineries, farms and gardens with incredible views. Or you could be set on creating something one of a kind. In this case industrial, bare bones venues could be the perfect fit because they allow you to entirely design your own vision.

You also might not know what style you want until you see it! If that’s the case try out a few different venue styles as you begin to tour. Narrow in on what kind of vibe you want on your wedding day first and then do a second round of touring once you’ve found what you’re looking for.

 

4. Transportation & Parking

Some venues will require you to hire transportation for your guests. Wineries, farms and historic sites don’t always have large parking lots for guests to leave their cars in. They will require you to rent a shuttle to get your guests to and from their hotels. It’s always a great idea to provide guests with a safe way home at the end of the night, but it’s not always mandatory. If transportation isn’t a requirement make sure you know where and when parking is available so you have the information to share with your guests.

 

5. Extra Details

Extra details are all the small things that you might not have realized are venue dependent. Start by asking what’s included. Some venues will offer just the property for the cost of rental while others include catering, alcohol, tables, and chairs. Some even provide their own tents! Other venues will not include these extra details and will expect you to purchase or rent them from another vendor. Ask detailed questions so you aren’t surprised if there are extra costs for some of these things.

 

6. Lodging

And finally, ask about lodging! One of my favorite things about Northern Virginia wedding venues is that many of them provide lodging on site. There is sometimes a honeymoon cottage, bridal suite or bed and breakfast on property where you can stay the night of your wedding or the whole weekend. Some venues even have extra lodging for family members and the wedding party! My couples who have stayed at their venues have always loved getting some extra time with family and friends on site!

 

Bonus: Rain Plan

As much as no one wants to consider it, rain on wedding days does sometime happen. But it’s nothing to panic about! When you consider venues for your wedding day ask the owner or manager about their rain plan. All venues should have an option in place in case Plan A doesn’t work out. Knowing that you have a choice besides walking down the aisle in a storm will set your mind at ease and let you plan for all scenarios.

 

No matter what factors are most important to you, I wish you best of luck in finding your dream venue! And if you need any help send me a message! I’m happy to listen to what kind of venue you’re looking for and give you a few suggestions to kick off your touring.

P.S. Newly engaged and looking for more advice? Click here to bookmark where new For Brides blogs will be posted every week. One of my favorite parts of being a wedding photographer, is helping couples bring their big day to life so I’ll be sharing advice on all different subjects!

 

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Janelle & Steven

A Virginia countryside wedding at Tranquility Farm in Purcellville, Virginia.

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