Should your photographer do a venue walk through prior to your wedding day?
I get asked this question all the time. This question generates a valuable discussion worth talking about in depth. Should your photographer do a venue walk through?
Sometimes on phone calls when I chat with potential couples, or after they've already booked me for their wedding day. I've even been asked by friends, when I'm in the bridal party instead of their photographer, for insight on what they need to look for IN their photographer.
Are you needing some insight too? I've got you. See my post about how to know if your wedding photographer is right for you.
There are SO MANY options when it comes to planning your wedding day - so many decisions you have to make. It can be SO overwhelming, and it's 100% understandable! You probably haven't done this before, and you might not have the insight that wedding vendors have on the industry. Even still, like most complicated things in life, it can be overwhelming if it's not your expertise.
Should your wedding photographer do a venue walk through?
It's not actually a simple answer. Which, I know, is NOT a comforting answer. But hear me out: It depends.
Some photographers would prefer it, and will meet their clients at their wedding venue. Some photographers will do a ton of research online to get an idea of the space virtually. Or, will never walk through prior to the wedding day and arrive sight-unseen.
Ultimately, don't be afraid to ask your photographer if it's possible to schedule a walk through if it will give you peace of mind. We are here to serve you the best we can. However, I personally would recommend to not make this a deal breaker.
Personally? I primarily shoot weddings sight-unseen and it has never been an issue. I scout online and kinda go crazy. Striving to learn all about the venue, and basically give myself a virtual tour. I travel all over for weddings, so that sometimes makes it impossible to schedule a walk through prior to the day of. If I can squeeze it in, I'll go check out the venue before my scheduled start time so I can figure out where I can do formal portraits, etc.
As a wedding photographer, you have to be ready for the unpredictable. With genuine moments as they unfold in front of you, but also with the location you're working at. There is only so much you can plan. Our job is to think on our toes and in true Project Runway fashion: make it work.
I've been at the same wedding venue both in the winter and again in the summer and the lighting is COMPLETELY different. It can even vary day to day depending on the cloud coverage. I've been at a venue where during one wedding we were at one particular spot for a majority of their portraits, and the next wedding I had there, that spot was under construction and we had to go somewhere else. And it was still just as beautiful because I'm used to being flexible!
I also think that this question goes hand in hand with the question of if it's important that your photographer has worked at your venue before. I get it - it's comforting to know that your photographer knows the space, maybe is familiar with the staff, and can show you galleries of couples at YOUR venue.
To be totally transparent, my husband and I valued this for our own wedding. However, with the last minute switch of our venue (You can read more about that on my about page), the new venue is one that our photographers and videographers had never been to before. And we weren't concerned at all, because knowing the space was a bonus but not a deal breaker for us. At the end of the day, they still nailed it.
It's all about trust, you know? It's about having confidence in the person in charge of documenting your day. If you believe that they have your best interest in mind, and if you believe that they are not only talented but also have experience at a wide variety of wedding venues, you can trust that they they've got it.
So, should your photographer do a venue walk through? The choice is yours.
My recommendation: You can absolutely ask if they've worked at your venue before and if they'll do a venue walk through with you, if that is something that's important to you.
Regardless, please ALWAYS ask to see full galleries.
This is so important. An adventurous elopement on a mountain top is going to look different than an intimate courthouse wedding. A wedding inside a traditional Catholic church with a ballroom reception will look different than a backyard wedding. A wedding at a venue with a barn will look different than a quirky venue with portraits in downtown Seattle.
Photographer's are only able to share so much on Facebook, Instagram, and on our website. Seeing full galleries will show you how they utilize the space in front of them and all the lighting that surrounds them. Ask for 2-3 galleries and take a moment to browse them with your fiancé. This will give you an idea of what your wedding might look like.
If they haven't worked at your venue before, you can ask to see galleries of weddings that took place in similar spaces. If you share your venue with them and details such as where the ceremony + reception spaces are taking place, that'll help. They'll be able to see from there if they will need to use flash vs. all natural lighting, etc.
Remember: Your wedding is unique and so are you as a couple. Your gallery isn't going to look like any other wedding, even if it is at the same venue. This is the day and the space you chose to celebrate YOU.
The photographer who understands this will document it and serve you well, no matter where you are.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope this post is helpful for you as you're wedding planning! Do you know someone who could benefit from this post? Feel free to share it using the links below.
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