January 29, 2019

How to choose your wedding venue

Your wedding venue is one of the first decisions that you will need to make when planning your wedding.  We are lucky to have some beautiful and unique wedding venues in Southern Pines, Pinehurst and Aberdeen to choose from!

Pinehurst wedding photographer

What are the most important things to consider when choosing your wedding venue?

Read on for everything you need to know!


Your first decision when it comes to your wedding venue is “Where do you want to get married?”  Whether you choose to stay local or opt for a destination wedding the first step is to choose the town or area.

Once you have narrowed down the general area start looking at specific venues.  Ask yourself the following questions when evaluating each venue: “Will the venue be easy to get to for my guests or will special travel be needed?  Is there adequate parking available or will I need to provide transportation like a shuttle?

Both rustic and downtown venues pose their challenges.  Rustic venues may need to be accessed by gravel roads that can be a challenge in bad weather or impossible for a bus to navigate.  Venues in a downtown area will pose parking challenges.  Do you want your guests to be forced to valet park for the wedding?  Is there parking close enough that grandma won’t have to travel 6 blocks in her wheelchair to get to the venue?

You may also want to consider lodging and entertainment in the area.  If many guests are traveling from out of town they will likely stay for a few days and will want access to restaurants, hotels, and entertainment leading up to or after the wedding.


Simply put, is the venue large enough to fit your guest list?

It is normal for about 30% of those invited to the wedding to be unable to attend, but if your guest list is close to the max capacity listed by the venue it is a good idea to ask to see the space set up prior to your event.  A paper diagram is nice, but it can be hard to visualize how much space you will actually have to move around and dance that way.

If you plan to have both your ceremony and reception in one location ensure that they have the space to accommodate both.  If they will need to use the same space for both events, what is the plan for change over and how long will the change take?  Is there a cocktail area for guests to mingle while this is taking place?

Lastly, if any part of the wedding will be held outdoors make sure that you are clear on what the rain plan will be.  This is especially important in the rainy spring and Fall hurricane seasons!


The number and level of amenities at your wedding venue can vary quite a bit from space to space.  It is important to pay attention to the amenities because this is one area where a lot of costs you didn’t anticipate can sneak up on you or end up saving you some money!

Getting ready rooms: If your venue has a space where you and your bridal party can get ready on site it can save you from having to either having to travel to the salon for hair and makeup or needing to book a hotel suite for getting ready.  Look for a space with ample natural light and neutral colors.

Food and Beverage: Depending on the type of venue that you book, there may be requirements for what type of food and beverage is allowed.  Restaurants, country clubs, and wineries often require you to use them for your catering or beverage service and may have certain minimum purchase requirements that will be either built into the venue fee or in addition to the rental fee.  Other venues allow outside caterers but provide a list that you must hire off of.  Though not common in this area, some venues will also charge a fee on all outside vendors (i.e. 10% of the catering cost will be paid to the venue on top of the caterer’s fee).  Lastly, some venues have restrictions on types of cuisine allowed (no Indian food can be prepared on site, for example).

Catering kitchen: If the venue allows or requires an outside caterer, is there a catering kitchen available?  What is the size and capabilities of the space?  This will be important when booking your caterer as some have certain requirements to work at a venue.

Restrooms:  Probably not the first thing that you think about, but some venues either do not have restroom facilities or have very limited facilities.  If this is the case, you will also need to rent portable restrooms for your event.

Rentals: What a venue offers when it comes to rental items can vary widely from venue to venue.  Basic items to check into include tables, chairs, table linens, and table settings.  Outdoor locations may require a tent rental.  Some venues will also include some decor or lighting items as part of your rental so be sure to ask what they have available!


The final consideration when choosing your venue is the aesthetic appeal.  An experienced wedding photographer can take beautiful photos at a community center (I’ve done it!) but it will make their job a lot easier – and you will need less decor – if the venue is already pretty.

The architecture and decor of the venue will contribute to the overall feel of your wedding and your wedding photography.  If you’re dreaming of a light and airy woodland wedding, it will be hard to create that in a dark church basement so try your best to match the style of venue to your wedding vision.

You will want to take the color scheme of the venue into account.  If you are having an understated blush and cream wedding bright orange and red “belongs in a casino” carpet can wreck your vision!  This also goes for getting ready spaces.  One of my recent weddings had a bright blue getting ready room.  I’m talking REALLY blue!  All of the getting ready photos in that brides albums are in black and white so that the blue walls did not ruin the continuity of her wedding gallery.

Now that you know what to look for in a wedding venue would you like a list of my favorite wedding venues in Southern Pines, Pinehurst, and Aberdeen?

Click HERE and I will send you a list of my favorite local vendors!


We will be in touch soon. 

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