Considering Lighting When Choosing A Venue
YAY, you’re engaged! You’re ready to put your Pinterest board into action or sort through all your saved posts on Instagram of bouquets, poses, dresses, venues, the list goes on. If you don’t already have a venue in mind, you’re probably trying to avoid being slammed with endless Google search results but know you have to start somewhere. First, what are your priorities? Outdoor or indoor? Maybe both. For the vibe, are you thinking urban or rustic? Bohemian or high-end with glitzy finishes? Regardless of the style, you need to consider the following when choosing where everything will go down.
Lighting. You know it’s one of a photographer’s favorite words. If choosing to have an indoor venue, you certainly want to have an abundance of light, preferably natural. First, you don’t want your guests feeling like they traipsed into a cave to celebrate your glorious event, but more importantly, you don’t want your pictures to be dark and shadowy. This probably seems like a no-brainer, but it really does make a photographer’s job a whole lot easier. Obviously, we don’t control the weather, and a rainy wedding day is probably not what you’ve always envisioned but can’t avoid. However, imagine if you’re wanting pictures outside or have your entire ceremony outside. It starts raining, and you’re forced inside but still have’n’t taken any pictures with your new husband or group family photos. It’s your wedding day, so obviously you’re ecstatic and giddy, but you pause for a brief second because yikes. It’s raining, and you’re just really in love with shots displaying lots of greenery and the beautiful venue grounds. Here’s where the lighting inside is crucial because now, you need to take pictures inside but still need them to turn out just as smooth and creamy as if you were outside. Ample natural light will still provide that natural, golden glow to your pictures and will soften your skin.
Harsh lighting indoors (fluorescent lighting with that headache-inducing bluish light) will make for artificial, stark pictures and washed-out skin tones. Obviously, an experienced photographer can work with whatever you choose. Personally, I’ve shot in multiple different situations with all kinds of lighting, from a waterfront venue with floor length windows to a dark church where the lights were intentionally kept off). However, I think we can all agree glowing, natural light complements our skin the best?!
After booking your venue, you could ask your photographer to walk through the venue with you, even if they’ve taken pictures there before. Together, you can scout out the best locations for indoor pictures and avoid blocking them off with any major decor or seating. Therefore, if it does end up raining on your wedding day, you’ll already have a plan of action and won’t waste any portrait time scurrying around the venue! Even if it doesn’t rain, you still might want pictures displaying the indoor beauty of where you got married, so a venue walkthrough could be helpful regardless. If you’re hiring a destination photographer, be sure to take plenty of pictures of your venue to text or e-mail to your photographer. Even though the venue is posted online, it can still be helpful having the bride’s point of view and learning what she likes most about her venue, that way you know how to showcase those areas. Putting together a vision before the wedding day can ease your mind and strengthen your feeling of control.
You should also consider lighting when choosing a getting ready location, whether that’s offsite or at the venue. Thankfully, most salons are built with natural light in mind, specifically for makeup purposes. Your getting ready pictures traditionally include hair and makeup, cute champagne-popping with your girls, and getting into your dress. With consistent, creamy light, you’ll organically achieve those radiant, pre-wedding moments.
A week before my husband and I got married, I was obsessively checking the weather app. OF COURSE the only day that called for rain was Thursday, the day we were getting married. As a lover of natural outdoor settings and with eyes that are magnetically pulled to greens, I was set on having outdoor pictures with Chris. Our wedding day rolled around, and it was stifling hot and sunny in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I managed to get all my bridesmaids’ shots and individual family photos outside. Our ceremony started at 4pm, and like clockwork, it started raining. The venue we chose was still beautiful inside, and the upstairs room provided plenty of natural light for bridal portraits. However, I definitely felt that little tinge of disappointment not having had any outdoor pictures with Chris. (A year later, we got all dressed up again, and for our first anniversary, our wedding photographer took us out on Lookout Mountain and captured the most beautiful, golden, magical pictures— wedding dress and all.) The point is, if our venue didn’t have long windows, I probably would have dark, grainy pictures hanging on my living room wall right now. (Okay debatable if I even would’ve hung them up.)
So here’s the deal. Whatever lighting is in your venue, don’t panic. There’s such thing as flash, and a good photographer won’t break down if they don’t see a wall full of windows. Natural light photographers typically have a good idea of what beautiful venues provide the most light, creating an overall open and uplifting environment, so don’t be afraid to ask! Trust me. They’re ready to geek out over natural light, as you probably already know.