When you get engaged, one of the very first things you do is start booking your venues, closely followed by booking your photography and videography team (us!). Our couples hire us for a couple different reasons, one of which is our shooting style! Our couples love that we can capture raw emotion during a ceremony and be there for all of those special candid moments. However, sometimes our couples find out a few months before their wedding that their church or ceremony venue has really strict photography and videography rules which can impact what we are able to capture during their ceremony. We pulled this blog together to help you with thinking through what you should ask your potential ceremony venues before booking! Typically religious venues are stricter than other venues while venues that service multiple purposes (getting ready, ceremony, cocktail hour, and your reception) are easier to work with since they’ll be hosting your entire day!
1) What restrictions do you have for photographers and videographers during the ceremony?
Each of these questions are really important, but this one really takes the cake. There are many religious venues that have strict rules for photographers and videographers to adhere to during the ceremony. These rules can mean that your photo and video team cannot go past the back section of the church or that they can only shoot from the balcony pews. These are really important restrictions to consider before signing on the dotted line.
Why is it important to be aware of your venues restrictions before booking them?
This protects you from disappointment later on. No matter how hard we try or how badly we want to get close, emotional, candid moments during your ceremony, it will be very challenging to do if we are forced to capture the ceremony from the back of the church. This also means that your photos will not have as much variety as they would in a ceremony setting where the photographer is free to move around during the ceremony. Sometimes, with video, it’s possible to still get multiple angles during the ceremony if the venue allows us to set up our cameras in multiple spots and leave them there. However, some religious venues don’t allow this so it’s just important to know in advance so you can make sure you are setting yourself and your photo & video team up to capture your ceremony how you have always envisioned. Many religious venues will have a clause that the photographer may recreate different moments through the ceremony once the ceremony has ended. It’s important to know and fully understand that a staged, planned recreation of a moment will not result in the same natural emotion and raw candid moments that would be captured as the ceremony unfolds naturally.
What do we do when we’re capturing a ceremony with strict rules and have to be in the back of the church or the balcony area?
We will ensure we have our longest-range lenses on our cameras to be able to capture as many details as we can from far away. Some churches are bigger than others so “the back of the church” can take on different meanings depending on the size of the church! We will always respect every requirement your venue has for us and do our best to ensure we capture each moment.
What venues typically have these restrictions?
Religious venues (churches, Cathedrals, etc.) typically have these restrictions. However, not all religious venues have strict rules in place for your photo & video team to follow! For example, the church Adam and I got married at was super flexible and our photographer and videographer was able to go where-ever they wanted during the ceremony. We have never had a non-religious venue have restrictions for a ceremony.
2) Does my ceremony have to be at a specific time?
Some venues, whether it’s a church or another type of venue, have specific times they require or ask couples to have their ceremony. In some of these cases, you won’t have much choice in the timing because the venue may be having multiple ceremonies on one day or the church may have to ensure they are able to clean and prepare for religious services later in the day. Many traditional services, especially at a Catholic or Lutheran church, will require you to have a ceremony that starts between 1:30-3:30pm. If you end up with a ceremony time of 1:30pm, that means that you will need to start getting ready for your day earlier and you will have a couple hours of gap time between your ceremony and reception if you plan to have a traditional reception which typically starts at 5:00pm at the earliest.
If your venue allows you to pick your ceremony time, we always are happy to help our couples choose what ceremony time would be best for their overall timeline including considering sunset and any other aspects that are unique to that couple.
What time do we typically recommend for a ceremony?
4:00 or 4:30pm typically ends up being a good ceremony start time, especially if you’re doing a first look. It allows you to flow easily from your ceremony into cocktail hour and have ample time for golden hour photos either immediately following the ceremony (in winter) or during the reception (most other seasons!).
There are a lot of factors that can go in to when we’d recommend you start your ceremony, though! We custom build each wedding day timeline and consider each unique aspect that specific couple included in their wedding day questionnaire!
3) Can I get ready at the venue? Are there any restrictions?
While most venues, churches included, have a getting ready space for the couple and their wedding party, those spaces can differ drastically! Some are beautiful with clean white walls, mirrors, cozy sitting areas, and plenty of natural light. Some are hot closets and can be miserable to get ready in. On wedding day, you will typically spend a number of hours in your getting ready space so it’s important to be able to feel comfortable and relaxed. Some venues, typically churches, won’t allow food and drinks in the getting ready spaces either which can be a challenge when you’re really needing something to snack on! Another thing to consider is that many religious venues do not allow alcohol even if they do allow you to have food and drinks. So if you’ve been dreaming of having a mimosa while getting ready with your bridesmaids, yo
u may want to double check on your venues rules! Some venues also don’t let you bring alcohol on the premises but will let you purchase it from them. That’s another expense to consider as well!
What do we recommend if the venue doesn’t have a great getting ready space?
You can find a great Airbnb or VRBO to stay in the night before and then use as a getting ready space! The Airbnb or VRBO route will typically have a nicer aesthetic than hotel rooms as well. We provide our couples with a comprehensive wedding planning resource that walks through our suggestions and guidance when deciding on a getting ready space!
Another thing to consider is the amount of travel you want to do on wedding day. We’ve found that our couples feel the most relaxed when their entire day is at one venue: getting ready, ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. It’s also much easier on your guests! You don’t have to worry about transportation and can just relax and enjoy the day. Some of our favorite all-day venues are: Laurel Hall, The Inn at Irwin Gardens, The Biltwell, Trader’s Point Creamery, Daniel’s Vineyard, NEIDHAMMER, or finding a great rental on Airbnb or VRBO if you’re planning a smaller wedding!
As always, if you have any questions about your venue or want some advice, feel free to reach out! We’d love to help you!
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