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Choosing Your Venue | The Portrait Locations

Wedding Advice

March 4, 2020

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I'm so glad you stopped by the blog! Here you'll find advice on planning your wedding, tips on what to wear to photo sessions, and of course, my favorite clients & people!

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Choosing Your Venue: The Portrait Locations

Choosing Your Venue: The Portrait Locations is Part Three of a Four-Part Series. Each week we’re taking a look at wedding venues from a photographer’s perspective. So far we’ve discussed the Getting Ready Space and The Ceremony Site. If you want a wedding venue that translates into a picture-perfect wedding day, then take a peek at some of my tips!

Generally speaking, there are three main “portrait” portions of your wedding day: The family portraits, the bridal party portraits, and the bride and groom portraits. Below I’m breaking down all three and things to consider when looking at your venue’s locations for each portion!

Family Portraits

Family portraits usually take place right after the ceremony is over. This is the easiest time and way to gather everyone – snag them before they head to cocktail hour! They are all right there! Usually I start with a portrait of the ENTIRE extended family, and then we slowly excuse family members to head to cocktail hour until we are down to immediate family only. I also try to snag photos with grandparents and young children first. However, there are a few considerations here when it comes to the location of family portraits.

If your ceremony is indoors in a church, then usually the lighting is a little wonky. Generally speaking, I MUCH prefer to take family portraits outside instead of inside the church. I can find more even lighting outside, and we’ll have more space for a large family combination. However, if you have your heart set on family photos in the church, then I’ll likely need to bring in flash. We’ll need a bit of time to set that up after the ceremony. Make sure you let me know you prefer photos inside the church so I can be sure to bring the proper lighting setup!

If you prefer to do family portraits outside, make sure that the venue has a portrait location that is:

  1. Easy to get to! We don’t want to make grandparents, ladies in heels, pregnant women, or other family members with mobility issues walking too far!
  2. A large enough space for everyone to fit in

We want family portraits to be as quick and painless as possible, so make sure it’s either at the ceremony location or nearby, easy to access, and a space that can fit everyone.

If you want a photo of EVERYONE in attendance at your wedding it would be extremely helpful if your venue had a large set of stairs to provide layers to stack everyone on. Or, a place for me to be ABOVE everyone, and looking down on them.

choosing your venue the portrait locations

Bridal Party Portraits

If you choose to do a FIRST LOOK, then we can take bridal party portraits before the ceremony even begins!! This means you have a better chance of making it to your cocktail hour 😉 A First Look also means more flexibility in our timeline, which means we can scout out a fun location for your bridal party portraits! Again, you’ll need to consider transporting a whole group of people in heels and dresses and suits and how far you’re willing to make them walk. If you are NOT doing a First Look, then most likely we’ll be taking the bridal party portraits after family portraits are finished. Because we’ll be tight on time, we won’t have a lot of flexibility in where we head for pictures. Most likely, we’ll stick close to the ceremony site.

choosing your venue the portrait locations

Couple Portraits

Now THIS is the fun part. Seriously, my most favorite part of the day! Just the two of you, sharing romantic moments on your wedding day! If you have a FIRST LOOK, then we have TONS of flexibility in our timeline. This means we can devote more time to more epic locations at your venue. If your venue has an awesome view or a mountaintop location, you’ll have to consider how you’ll get there. Some venues offer a Gator or 4-wheeler to cart you and your spouse around. If they don’t, then you’ll have to decide how far you’re willing to travel in your dress, suit, heels, shoes, the whole get up. If you’re worried about getting your dress dirty or your heels sinking, then maybe you’ll want to stick close to the ceremony site.

Some of my couples have actually driven OFFSITE for the First Look location – to a location not at their venue. Because they chose a First Look, they were on less of a time crunch. If you two choose not to have a First Look, then make sure to account for enough time between the ceremony and the start of the reception to hit up all the amazing portrait locations your venue offers!

choosing your venue the portrait locations



I hope these were helpful tips! As you think about choosing your venue, and the portrait locations on your wedding day, and how your wedding venue will affect family portraits, bridal party portraits, and your couple portraits! There are lots of options! We’ll work with your timeline to give you the best photos possible for your day!

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I'm Meghan and I'm so glad you're here! My blog is where you'll find advice on planning your wedding, tips on what to wear to a session, and of course, my beautiful clients!

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