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Planning Your Ceremony Location

Planning Your Wedding Ceremony Location

Choosing a wedding venue is at the top of every wedding-planning list. And it can get a little overwhelming at times. There are many options, such as barns and ballrooms, cozy restaurants, and eclectic haunts. While every aspect of a wedding day is important, the venue will be on your mind until it’s booked. But once it’s booked, further decisions need to be made.

One of the biggest decisions is where to say your “I do’s” on your venue’s property! There are lots of things to consider when planning your wedding ceremony. Do you want it inside or outside? Can your guests fit at the ceremony spot? Does the location fit the vibe you want for your ceremony? Let’s dive into these questions a bit further! Don’t worry; I’ve got a few helpful hints on planning your wedding ceremony location.

Indoor vs. Outdoor

Most people have a pretty firm stance on whether they want an indoor versus outdoor wedding ceremony. There are many upsides and downsides to each option. Obviously, the wedding venue you choose will provide you with options for an indoor or outdoor ceremony. If you choose an indoor wedding ceremony, you don’t have to worry about the weather, and most likely, your guests will be comfortable in either the air conditioning or heat. Indoor ceremony locations are year-round ceremony locations!

But, if you aren’t sure, consider seeing a wedding venue with indoor and outdoor ceremony spaces! Selecting a venue with multiple indoor and/or options is a great way to keep your options open in case the weather turns and you must change your location at the very last minute. Countless wedding venues in Knoxville and East Tennessee can accommodate indoor and outdoor ceremonies, such as Heartland Meadows, The Quarry, Maple Grove Estate, Hunter Valley Farm, and Willow Ridge Special Event Center, to name a few.

Planning Your Ceremony Location

How Many Guests Will You Have

Now, one downside to having an all-indoors event is being mindful of your guests! Well, in the fact that you need to fit all their butts in seats! If you’ve decided to have your wedding ceremony in a small setting, but your guest list balloons to 100 people, you may find yourself with guests who will need to stand for the ceremony. So, make sure that you have planned your guest list selectively. Some of the most stunning ceremony locations can only fit maybe thirty people. Before you fall in love with the wrong place, double-check with your wedding venue that they can hold the capacity of the people you’re planning for.

Now, if your guests are standing at your ceremony, that leaves some problems for your photographers. There are times when we can’t move around during your ceremony! Mainly, those pesky side aisles get full, and nearly all of your wedding photos will be shot straight down the aisle. The limitations of an enclosed space may prevent your photographer from getting the shots you want. Now, this isn’t a bad thing, but just something to remember!

Planning Your Ceremony Location

When Mother Nature Has a Bad Day

Let’s be honest; with the beauty of East Tennessee, most couples want outdoor spaces. Especially if you are getting married in the spring, summer, or fall. There are so many wedding venues that highlight the beauty of our area. For example, RT Lodge provided one of the best outdoor locations we have ever photographed – on their winding road. But Mother Nature may have a mind of her own on your wedding day that will certainly impact planning your ceremony location. That winding road wedding at RT Lodge? The ceremony was moved up an hour due to pending storms for the rest of the evening!

When Mother Nature decides to take a detour, we aren’t talking just rain or shine. We are talking about going from a scalding summer day to freezing temperatures in the span of a day or two. Of course, having that ‘rain plan’ is important, but also consider how hot or cold it may be at your wedding ceremony. We have seen it all in the hundreds of weddings I’ve photographed. We photographed a 90-degree-weather wedding in March, and the next month photographed a 40-degree-weather wedding in April. Guys, it just happens that way sometimes! Remember that if your wedding ceremony space is weather-dependent (outdoor only), you may be scrambling for options.

Planning Your Ceremony Location

Time of Day

The time of day you plan to get hitched is very important regarding two main things: guest comfort and lighting. During the hot summer months, be mindful of the day’s heat. This is especially true for an outdoor wedding ceremony. Any time before 4pm between May and September could mean your guests are sweating! If you do have a ceremony outside, consider a later starting time. If not, find ways to make your guests comfortable with shade! Your wedding venue coordinators, such as the ladies at The Quarry, know exactly where the sun sets and the shade starts on their property. They can easily coordinate the best start time for your ceremony.

Of course, when you move your ceremony back, you will need to consider your guests’ dinner time! We always encourage couples to do First Looks if their ceremony will be later in the evening. That way, you and your guests can enter dinner after your ceremony. If you want more golden hour time with your new spouse, we can always take you back out at Golden Hour without missing a beat in your reception. Another note: you can always share more about your meal in your invitation suite! Share with your guests that there will be a cocktail hour after the ceremony, or your dinner will be served promptly. That way, your guests can plan accordingly! We don’t need any hangry wedding guests!

Finally, your wedding ceremony is the MOST important part of your day. A part of the day that can’t be redone. The time of day can greatly impact what your ceremony photos will look like. Are you getting married out in a field in the blazing hot sun? Are you getting married in a low-lit ceremony at night? Your ceremony lighting IS one of the most important light of the entire day and certainly something to consider purposely.

Planning Ceremony Location

Plan For the Grandparents

My husband and I were married over a decade ago. (I know, I’m old). And in those years, we have lost all of our grandparents. Your grandparents are important. They are absolutely part of your past and future, and you certainly want them to be a part of your wedding day. The hard reality is that some grandparents just can’t make it down the aisle. Let alone an aisle 100 yards long in a field. When planning your wedding, think about wheelchairs and walkers. Are they able to navigate the terrain of your wedding ceremony location?

These considerations can apply to other guests and even your bridesmaids. If you must walk a long distance on gravel roads or grass in high heels, you risk sinking into the ground or someone hurting, twisting an ankle! We don’t need an ambulance pulling into your wedding venue! Or, at least, wear some comfy shoes;-)

Planning Ceremony Locations

What Does Your Gut Say?

Last summer, we photographed an intimate feet-washing ceremony under mature trees at Ramble Creek in Athens, Tennessee. The ceremony location for this meaningful wedding ceremony was perfect. It felt right for that couple to marry in that exact spot. Your wedding ceremony location choice may come down to one thing: a gut feeling. No matter how you go for your ceremony, we hope it fits you as a couple. Choose a moody indoor location at The Standard if you want it to be intimate. If you want it loud and boisterous, strut down the grass aisle at Smithview Pavillion. Your day, in the end, is whatever you want to make of it.

Planning Your Ceremony Location

Erin Morrison Photography

At the end of the day, everyone will have an opinion about where you should have your ceremony. What’s most important is what makes you happy. If that means you smooch your spouse-to-be under mature trees in an East Tennessee field or get married in the backyard of your childhood home, so be it. It’s your day, and wherever your wedding venue ends up being, it will be perfect. If you’re still unsure about where to have your ceremony, talk to your wedding planner or your professional wedding photographer. Believe me; we’re a great source of inspiration! And please, feel free to peruse my blog and wedding portfolio, and contact us any day to photograph your wedding ceremony.

Planning Your Wedding Ceremony Location


Natural light + honest photographer for all humans.


Knoxville, Tennessee



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