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 so many options to choose from, such as barns and ballroom, to cozy restaurants and eclectic haunts. While every aspect of a wedding day is important, the venue is going to 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 actually 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! And 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 of each option. Obviously, the wedding venue you choose is going to provide you with options for either an indoor or outdoor ceremony. If you choose an indoor wedding ceremony you don’t have to worry about the weather, and the most likely your guests will be comfortable in either the air conditioning or heat. Obviously, indoor ceremony locations are year-round ceremony locations!
But, if you aren’t sure, consider seeing a wedding venue that has both indoor and outdoor ceremony spaces! Selecting a venue that has multiple indoor and/or options is a great way to keep your options open in case the weather turns and you have to change your location at the very last minute. There are countless wedding venues in Knoxville that can accommodate an indoor and outdoor ceremony, such as Heartland Meadows, Hunter Valley Farms, Ramble Creek Vineyards, and the Knoxville Botanical Gardens, to name a few.
How Many Guests Will You Have
Now, one downside to having an all-indoors event is that you have to be 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 people you’re planning for.
Now, if your guests are standing at your ceremony, that leaves some problems for your photographers. There are times where 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 keep in mind!
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 seasons. 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 going from a scalding summer day to freezing temperatures in the span of a day or two. Of course, it’s important to have that ‘rain plan,’ but also consider how actually hot or cold it may be at your wedding ceremony. In over the 150 weddings, we have photographed, we have seen it all. We have 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 some times! Just be mindful that if your wedding ceremony space is weather dependent (outdoor only), then you may be scrambling for options.
Time of Day
The time of day you plan to get hitched is very important in regards to two main things: guest comfort and lighting. During the hot summer months, be mindful of the heat of the day. This is especially true for an outdoor wedding ceremony. Any time before 4pm between the months of May and September could mean that 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 with a late ceremony time. That way, you and your guests can go right into 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. One other note here: 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 at a prompt time. 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 re-done. The time of day can have a major impact on 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 purposely consider.
Plan For the Grandparents
My husband and I were married just under a decade ago. (I know, I’m old). And in those years, we have lost four grandparents. Your grandparents are important. They are absolutely part of your past and your 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?
Now, these considerations can also apply to other guests and even your bridesmaids. If you have to walk a long distance on gravel roads, or grass in high heels, you run the risk of 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;-)
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 absolutely perfect. If just felt right for that couple to be married in that exact spot. Your wedding ceremony location choice may come down to one thing: a gut feeling. No matter which way you go for your ceremony, we hope that it fits you as a couple. If you want it to be intimate, choose a moody indoor location at The Standard. If you want it to be loud and boisterous, choose to strut down the grass aisle at Smithview Pavillion. Your day, in the end, is whatever you want to make of it.
Erin Morrison Photography
At the end of the day, everyone is going to 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 through our blog and wedding portfolio, and contact us any day to photograph your wedding ceremony.