The first thing you need to think of what time of year you want to do it and what size it will be - how big do you want to go and how many people are you planning on inviting? Then you need to think of the ceremony - will it be a church wedding or would you rather a registrar?
For example, a lot of venues these days are licensed to conduct marriage ceremonies, the plus-side being that you're effectively "on-site" for the whole day, from getting ready in the morning all the way through to the end of the night, and there aren't the logistics of worrying how people are going to get from A to B or how you're going to feed and water everyone. Conversely, if you decide that you want to have a church wedding you need to think about where you're going to get ready beforehand, how far the church is from there and then how long will it take to get to wherever the reception is. Throw in thoughts about caterers and entertainment and then you'll see how complicated it can all be.
Once you've figured all this out you can then narrow down your search and be more specific about how you want your day to go. The important thing to remember here is that there is no right or wrong option, everybody is unique in what they want to do, it's just like trying to solve a big puzzle. Once you've done that, you can then focus on everything else.
Your location is a key part of the day and sets the tone so you want to get it right. I've shot weddings in a whole variety of different places, from stately homes and hotels to wigwams in gardens. There are so many options out there that frankly it is a complete minefield so I thought I'd share just a handful of the locations I've shot in to give you an idea as to what the possibilities are. So, let's start off by thinking about some...
One particular venue that provides loads of options is Loseley Park in Surrey. A stately home dating back to the 16th century (Elizabeth I once stayed there). You can, if you so choose, hold your ceremony in the Great Hall, but it also has a beautiful walled garden which has an explosion of colour during the Spring and Summer where you can either again, hold your wedding ceremony, or have a drinks reception with your guests. To cap it all off the house also has it's own 17th century Tithe Barn a stones throw across the lawn where the in-house caterers Caper & Berry* can provide you with an excellent wedding breakfast and keep you well watered as you dance long into the night.
You can guarantee that a stately home will provide you with a lot of options for great photos and will make you feel like you are King & Queen for the day!
*Caper & Berry also provide the catering at Hedsor House, the Tithe Barn Petersfield amongst many other great locations.
Down by the River...
The above wedding was shot on a hot August Bank Holiday weekend where a cool breeze came off the river which was alive with activity from boats of all sizes making for a truly memorable day.
*The Hurlingham is right by the river as well and you could always arrange to have a boat transport there or whisk you off at the end of the night.
A Venue with a Meaning
In a similar vein, the RMA Sandhurst has also served as a great location for a couple of weddings I've shot. A place where men and women are moulded into Army officers and where 2 of my couples wanted to return as the college and its magnificent chapel and grounds held a special place in their hearts.
It's spectacular surroundings like these that can really add an extra special element to your day so if you have any connections to any of the country's great learning establishments then it would be well worth getting in touch with them to see what they can offer you on your big day.
So that's a brief look at some of the kinds of venues that are available to you. It's an area where you can really think out of the box as you might come up with somewhere that you'd think would normally be off limits but then you may end up being pleasantly surprised, you never know. So, dream big and have fun planning your big day!
I still have a handful of bookings available for this year and am also taking bookings for 2019 and beyond. If you have any queries or would like to meet for a chat to discuss your plans for your big day then don't hesitate to get in touch!