There’s no one answer and there is no wrong or right answer. We want to share our know-how with you that might help you to plan and prepare the best for the wedding with no stress. So, let’s talk about situations where wedding venue visitation in advance is not necessary and where it would be much needed.
Our experience is to see photo opportunities as we go, but always show up at the wedding with homework done and prepared.
Usually, we’re not doing a pre-wedding visitation of the venue. Our experience as wedding photographers has trained us to seek and explore photo opportunities as we go, and this is among our key strengths. We always feel comfortable in new locations and environments. This allows us to work without expectations and not limit the creative process by fixating on a pre-planned photoshoot. Looking at our photographs it’s easy to feel that our style is not perfectly curated photography. Rather it’s an expression of the individual and an unfolding story of the day. Check our portfolio for more stories of wedding day.
Of course, we always do a lot of homework beforehand. A huge part of that is creating trust-based relationships with a couple. This allows us to have a vision so we can work on our feet. The best photography opportunities are spontaneous. It takes a professional eye to spot and explore them. Usually, people don’t see them if they are focused on a pre-planned list of shots to take.
However, there are always exceptions and situations when we go and visit the wedding venue in advance.
While doing that we meet the couple, wedding planner and other involved team members. This serves as a preparation and allows us to get to know each other better. Even then we don’t plan shots, it’s not a matter of searching for the possible opportunities.
Wedding venue and location scouting is more of pragmatic action. Some weddings are planned as very complex and grand events in huge venues with enormous gardens. Our job as a photographer is to know how to manage all logistic challenges that our team might face during a tight schedule of the day.
“You shouldn’t waste time during the wedding day to find the staircase to reach the balcony of a roof. You should know how to get there fast.“
Orientation in the location will benefit you greatly and will expand your opportunities. Besides, on the day, every member of the team will have their own duties and while asking: “how to get to…?” is better than getting lost, this act betrays your lack of preparation.
Another reason to visit the location is to go through the day schedule while walking through the places where the events will happen. You can get a feel of how much time it will take to move from one spot to another and where the guest will be moving before and after the ceremony. There are some photographs that are not spontaneous that you need to get like the portraits of bridal and groom parties. Knowing where you can take them is helpful for many practical reasons like queuing people, and not getting in the way of other guests.
Lastly, visiting a wedding venue is a great chance to connect with the couple, listen to them and hear their thoughts that would allow us later to create amazing photographs reflecting them and their wedding day. Meeting the team, knowing their responsibilities, and building a relationship with people puts everything at ease. The atmosphere gets more relaxing and that’s important not only for us to do our job, but also for the couple.
What if it is not possible to visit wedding venue in advance?
As destination wedding photographers we get to visit a lot of wedding venues. Even if it’s during our holidays. We always do our homework via the internet through virtual scouting. Sometimes simply by looking at a lot of pictures of specific places.
Working in close relationships with wedding planners, wedding venues can get answers to most of the questions. It helps to gather important details in order to execute your tasks to the perfection. Nowadays there are endless possibilities to get all necessary information without physically visiting the wedding venue and be prepared for the Day!
Our advice – physical wedding venue visitation would be nice to have but is not necessary.
Think if visiting the venue will be really beneficial to you and your couple. If the level of wedding complexity, venue size, number of activities, number of guests and tasks makes you worried – discuss the possibility of doing a real-life venue scouting.
Otherwise, a full wedding day agenda and a thorough discussion online between a couple and a team, will cover most of the basis. Do check if the venue has some sort of a virtual tour and explore that. On the day of the event come to the venue early. Do a quick tour yourself, chit chat with the team. Keep an eye for those spontaneous opportunities. Remember that luck prefers those who are prepared.