After the engagement ring, a venue is the next stop. For some brides, it might even be the first stop before the ring. It sets the entire tone of your wedding as well as gives you a set date for your wedding. To emphasize how important it is, is an understatement.
Being a wedding photographer, I get to see it all. Hundreds of venues with thousands of ways to dress them up. Take a blank white walled venue for example- you could keep it sleek and clean, go classy and elegant, or let it explode into an inside wildflower field for all your boho dreams. I get it- the venue is crucial, so I'll give you a little nugget of insight.
If you are in a crazy season of life, planning your wedding remotely, or just simply want to keep your vendor list as small you can- an all-inclusive venue is for you! This may come in a thousand different colors but the point being, if your venue offers more than just a space, it is going to be worth a little extra money.
Let's get a little more specific...
In Greenville, SC there is a hidden gem that is The Gassaway Mansion. It is located right outside of downtown and looks a lot like a small Scottish castle. I've had the opportunity to photograph weddings at the venue twice now, with more on the books for the next year. It is quite simply the most elegant, modern, sleek venue you can find.
Not only is it a beautiful venue, but they also take care of all the flowers and decor as well as all of the catering. The women that run this venue work tirelessly to make sure your day is executed perfectly. It is family owned with in house catering and florists. From planning meetings all the way to the day of coordinating, every bride is so well taken care of. They know and love this venue more than you ever will and are completely dedicated to your day going off without a hitch.
For all the newly engaged out there- wedding planning does not have to be as stressful as we make it. You are not supposed to be an expert in this, so let people who are experts do the hard work for you. By choosing a venue that does so much for you, you are simplifying your own to do list.
In the case of this wedding- the bride, Emily, was in the middle of school to become a PA and her mother lived across the country. By picking a venue that did the decorating, catering, event rentals, and coordinating, all that was left on her plate was finding her wedding photographer, picking out what everyone would wear, hiring someone to do the cake, and finding a DJ.
I have been a wedding photographer for 5 years now and it is pretty safe to say, I've seen a lot of things go right but I have also seen a lot of things go wrong. The vendors you hire to be at your wedding are (/should be) professionals. Hire people that you know you can trust with your big day. Spend the little extra money to make sure you can spend time enjoying the day, instead of spending time fixing all of the problems.
At the end of the day, make space to celebrate the beginning of your marriage- that's what matters the most! If that means an all-inclusive venue is right for you, DO IT!! I promise you won't regret it.
One last golden thought- if you want to be outdoor for your ceremony (which I completely love and understand) make sure your venue has an indoor back up that isn't going to double the cost of your rental. Tents are very expensive, thousands of dollars expensive. Be mindful of that and be prepared no matter what you decide. The weather is unpredictable no matter what time of year it may be.
If you didn't already love Gassaway enough- they also have a tent that is always up as well as a beautiful first floor of the home for guests to be in.
At last- when in doubt, your wedding photographer may just be the best person you can ask for help when picking a venue. Like I said, I've been to hundreds and there is a perfect one out there just for you!