Tips for Choosing the Perfect Wedding Venue

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Tips for Choosing the Perfect Wedding Venue

Wedding Wednesday

March 12, 2020

The first major step in planning your wedding is choosing the perfect Dallas wedding venue. Your wedding venue is one of the most important decisions you’ll make because it sets the vibe and tone for your entire wedding. As a Dallas wedding photographer and a previous bride, I understand there is much more to take into consideration when choosing a venue.

Choosing a wedding venue dictates almost every aspect of your wedding from the amount of guests can attend, the overall vibe of the wedding, the color palette, I think you’re catching the drift. From a design standpoint, choosing your wedding venue, is the most important decisions.

Tips and advice to choose the perfect wedding venue from a previous bride and Dallas Wedding Photographer’s perspective.

Get a Clear Vision before Wedding Venue Visits.

Dallas has a wide variety of different wedding venues from traditional Southern-style mansions, chapels, ballrooms, upscale barns, to unique wedding venues such as art galleries, museums, and warehouses. Before venue tours, think about what you do and do not want in a wedding venue. When you think of your dream wedding, what do you envision?

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden Wedding in Dallas, Texas

The Right Decor and Palette

Venues have its own vibe and non-removable decor, so when choosing a wedding venue take this into consideration. If you have a theme and color palette in mind, make sure the venue’s aesthetic doesn’t clash with your vision. For example, if you’re dreaming of a rustic wedding, you’re not going to choose a wedding venue that is modern and sleek.

Does the Venue Have a Spacious Bridal Suite and Groom Quarters with Natural Light?

If your wedding day is taking place at one location, you’ll definitely need a spacious bridal suite for you, your bridesmaids, and mother to get ready in. Make sure that there is enough space not just for you and bridal party, but also for the hair and makeup artists to work and for your photographer to work, too! It’s really important to have plenty of window light for these types of portraits.

If your venue doesn’t have a bridal suite with both plenty of space and natural light, consider getting ready at a nearby hotel or even renting an Airbnb.  Airbnb’s will generally be much more spacious than a hotel room so they’re a really great option!

Also, don’t forget about your groom! Make sure there is a spacious and well-lit place for him to get ready with his buddies, too! They’re just as important and deserve a place to get ready, also.


Table decor details at Garden chic inspired wedding at Willow Creek Ranch in Valley Center


Back to lighting. Lighting is such an important factor when choosing a wedding venue. There are all different types of light. Some venues are more bright and airy, while others are more moody. However, your venue shouldn’t be dark and dreary. Also, if your wedding is outside at night, how will the space be lit?

groom portraits at The Retro Ranch in Temecula by Dallas Wedding Photographer

Imagine your Wedding Portraits at the Venue Grounds.

Also, keep in mind about the amount of space for portraits. Does the venue grounds offer space for portraits away from other vendors setting up and guests?

Plenty of Areas for Eating, Drinking, & Dancing.

Make sure there are areas for eating, drinking and partying at the venue. The last thing you want is for all the dining tables to take up the entire dance floor.

The Pearl at Sabine Creek - Best East Texas Wedding Venue

What’s Included.

This is when having a spreadsheet and being organized will come in handy. Not all wedding venues offer the same amenities. Some offer in-house catering and some don’t. Many offer a full bar…other’s don’t. Some require a coordinator. Other’s will require you to pay for chairs, in addition to the cost per plate for the reception. So so so many minor details that will play a huge factor on the overall budget.

Check the Venue’s Vendor Policies.

One of the worst things is to fall in love with a wedding venue, who only allows you to work with a small list of approved vendors and the list is out of date or not your style. Sometimes venue’s will charge you an additional fee if hire outside vendors, and some wedding venues won’t let you stray from the list at all. Spend the time looking through the vendors and meeting with them before signing on with the venue. 

Wedding at The Riverbed Farm in Anaheim, CA by California and DFW Wedding Photographer

What is the Plan B for Ceremony Locations in Case of Rain.

It’s no lie that I love outdoor ceremonies, but no one can deny the added stress that an outdoor ceremony may bring due to potential weather challenges especially when you live in Texas. To avoid some of this stress, have a Plan B in place for your ceremony in case of rain; and make sure you love your Plan B as much as possible. This way, if you have to resort to it, you won’t be as disappointed. From a photographer’s perspective, something you may want to look out for is if your venue’s Plan B is to have your ceremony take place in the ballroom. If this is the case, make sure you find out if the tables will be in a separate room or if they’ll be visible to your guests. We’ve had so many brides be disappointed when they found out fully-set tables would be visible during their ballroom ceremony. 

Quality of Food & Drinks.

While your wedding day is all about you, I’m a firm believer that the reception isn’t just about you. Your reception should also be about your guests and their enjoyment. One of the most important factors in your reception is the quality of food and drink. Your guests are traveling to come and celebrate you, so this is your way of taking care of them and showing them your appreciation. If your venue does in-house catering, make sure do have a sample tasting and read the reviews online. Plus, you want a good first meal as a married couple, right?

Tips for Choosing the Perfect Wedding Venue

Practicality for You & Guests.

Is your ceremony and reception at a different location? It’s fairly common to get married at a church or temple then have the reception at a different location. Things to think about: Will this give you more stress? How will the guests get from the multiple locations? Will it cost you more money? Are the added variables of what could go wrong (for example if your wedding is in the winter, will a long drive between venues potential lead to travel hazards?). Are you traveling between locations during high traffic times? There is no right or wrong answer to this, it depends on time of year, weather, costs, size of the wedding, and so on. Just something to consider.

Check Reviews.

Do this before visiting the wedding venues too, because it will give you more knowledge on questions to ask or warning signs to be wary of. Also, be sure to check reviews on multiple platforms such as Wedding Wire, The Knot, and Google.

Kyrsten Ashlay Photography is a Dallas Wedding Photographer specializing in romantic, genuine, raw imagery for wildly in love couples.  I hope you found this information incredibly helpful while you plan for your upcoming Dallas wedding. To help you get started wedding planning – here are my top 40 Dallas Wedding Venues!  If you’re looking for a wedding photographer to capture your special day in Dallas or  the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, I’d love to hear from you! Or have you seen enough and want to book this Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex Wedding Photographer for your upcoming wedding or event?! Send me a note and let me treat you to coffee (or wine) – can’t wait to connect!

Tips for Choosing the Perfect Wedding Venue from Dallas Wedding Photographer Kyrsten Ashlay Photography


  1. I like how you mentioned to take into account whether or not a venue would stress you out. I’ve been thinking about getting married, but haven’t been sure where to start. Thanks for the great tips for choosing a wedding venue.

  2. I thought it was interesting when you explained that it is a good idea to find a wedding venue that has a spacious bridal suite. My sister and her fiance are getting married soon, and as far as I know, my sister is going to have a lot of bridesmaids. It seems like she will need to find a large venue since she is going to have a lot of bridesmaids.

    • Kyrsten K. says:

      I’m so so glad you found it helpful! If she has a lot of bridesmaids I would definitely highly recommend that there is enough space in the bridal suite. Bridesmaids always have SO much stuff. Gotta make sure at least there’s a place to hide it so it won’t show in her photos 🙂

  3. Kate Hansen says:

    It was really helpful when you said to consider the decor! My sister and her fiance are wanting to look into finding a wedding venue in a couple of weeks, and my sister was telling me last night about how she wants to make sure that she can pick the right one. I’ll make sure to pass this information along to her as they search for a venue!

  4. Next year, it’d be my little sister’s wedding, and she’s eager to start touring wedding venues. I liked that you explained the importance of asking about a wedding venue’s policies before signing your deal, and I’m positive my sister will find this very helpful, so I’ll share it now. Thanks for the insight on what to consider when looking for a wedding venue.

  5. Tex Hooper says:

    You make a great point about how there are multiple varieties involved with your venue choice like amenities and space. I need to get a venue for my sister who is getting married in July. She wants to have a venue that is outside.

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