Things to Consider

Most people think choosing a venue is a pretty simple process. You find one you love, make sure they can accommodate all of your guests, and BOOM... you're set! But there are many other things to consider when choosing a venue for your wedding ceremony. There are so many types of wedding venues to choose from, and so many things to consider when choosing the right one. Each one is unique, and each one comes with "pros and cons".

Public Access

Most businesses do not close down for a wedding day and will continue to serve their regular guests for at least part of the day. This can effect your wedding day in several ways. For example, some wineries will not allow guests to arrive early to decorate as they will be busy with wine tours and other groups. Many golf courses will not allow wedding couples to have access to the greens for photos because their members will be using them at the time of the wedding. For public gardens, parks and beaches, you may be competing for space with other people who are enjoying the area as well. And even though a section can be blocked off for you when renting a space through your city or municipality, the public could have access right next to you, and chances are pretty high of having strangers in your photos. If you want a venue to yourself for your wedding day, you can always ask to see if there are any options for more privacy, although you may have to pay a higher fee. Your best option for total privacy is a private residence.

From my experience however, the general public has rarely been an issue or inconvenience. Yes, you will have strangers watching from a distance while you say your vows, (who doesn't love to watch a wedding?). But most people will respect your privacy and keep away. They will watch silently, cheer with your guests and then happily continue on their way.


While strolling around an outdoor venue you are considering, take a minute or two to just stop and listen. How noisy are your surroundings? Basically, you want to avoid anything that may interrupt your vows, or cause your guests to be unable to hear you. Is there a highway close by or an area with high traffic? Are there airports or train tracks nearby? If so, what are their schedules and can you plan your ceremony around it?

This is something most people don't factor into their decision when picking a spot for their ceremony. And to be honest, it really isn't a huge concern except for one type of venue, especially in the Okanagan. From my experience, beachside weddings are likely to be somewhat noisy. This is because the general public has access to the area. Sunbathers, family's and boaters will be in the background, so chatter, laughter and perhaps even loud music could interrupt your vows. Not to mention wind and waves can drown out your voices.

There is one way to ensure you are heard on your wedding day and that is to have a sound system onsite. Some venues may have options for you, but if not, this is something you will have to factor into your budget. Another option would be to ask your DJ about sound system options for the ceremony.


Venues that are built for weddings, conferences and other events will have enough washrooms for all of your guests. However, I have worked a few places that were not equipped for larger groups and therefore, couples have had to rent portable washrooms for their big day. This might seem strange and you would think it not necessary. However, it is a legal responsibility for an event to have a certain number of washrooms to accommodate a certain number of people. And let's be honest, we would all rather spend our time at a wedding mingling with other guests than waiting in line to use the one and only washroom on site.

There are companies that rent out portable washrooms for just such occasions. Some are simple portable toilets you may find on construction sites. But there are larger and nicer looking ones that can accommodate a few guests at a time. They also have generators for power and water use. Honestly, I have been in some of these washrooms and they are nicer than ones I've used in many businesses! 

For public venues such as gardens or beaches, take a look around the location you are considering and see if there are any public washrooms close by for you and your guests to use. Contact the city and make sure they can be accessed for your wedding day. Sometimes cities close public washrooms for various reasons so it would be wise to just call ahead of time to check.


Outdoor weddings are so beautiful, especially here in the Okanagan where we are surrounded by amazing views. However, outdoor weddings are also at the mercy of the weather so it is important to prepare accordingly. For those hot summer days, look for a shady spot for your ceremony and provide hand held fans and water for your guests to make sure no one gets overheated. For indoor venues, inquire about air conditioning. You wouldn't think this is an issue in this day and age, however there are some historical venues and older buildings that do not have air conditioning in place. For these venues, see if they have options for making sure people stay cool, like electric fans.

 In the spring and fall, prepare for rain by providing umbrellas and perhaps a covered area such as a gazebo or a place with a lot of trees to provide some shelter. This shoulder season can also bring about cooler days so having blankets on hand to keep guests warm is a very thoughtful thing to do. Outdoor winter weddings are less common but they do happen because they are very beautiful! Usually though, they are quick and situated around a camp fire or portable heaters, which just makes good sense. Be sure to plan for this if you are getting married outdoors in the cooler months.


Great photos need great light! Though this isn't typically a problem for outdoor ceremonies, it is something to consider for indoor weddings. Take a good look at how much light the space has. Venues with large windows that allow a lot of natural light are perfect for photos. If this is not the case, inquire about your lighting options. Now I know low light is romantic, but it is a nightmare to photograph. Photos with low light may be grainy and/or a bit blurry due to the settings your photographer will need to use on their equipment, so it's best to keep all the lights on.... except for a few cases.

  1. Avoid harsh spot lights at the front of the aisle. You may be nice and lit up, but when exposing for this situation, either your guests will be dark or you will be over exposed.
  2. Lights that have different hues can clash in photos and leave skin tones looking unflattering. These things however, might be totally out of your control. When the lighting is in your control though, just remember that even lighting is best. 

When lighting is an issue, most photographers, like myself, will have flashes and other lighting they can use to compensate. But this can be an issue as well. Check with your venue first to see if they allow flash photography. Some churches or museums do not allow flash as they either distract from the ceremony, or can harm the artwork hanging in the venue. If this is the case, be aware that your photos will be on the darker side, and can be grainy or pixelated. 

For ceremonies outdoors, make sure you pay attention to two things where light is concerned. First, where will the sun be at the time of your ceremony? If the sun is at a 90 degree angle from where you will be standing, it will create harsh shadows on one of you, while the other is blinking in the sunlight. Secondly, what time the sun goes down on your wedding date. Some people prefer later weddings, which isn't a big deal in the summer when the sun goes down later in the evening. But in the shoulder seasons, this can be an issue, especially in hilly regions like the Okanagan. Here in the valley, once the sun is hidden by a hill or mountain, it gets dark quickly.


When chatting with a venue about their wedding services, ask to see all of their policies regarding weddings. Depending on the venue, there could be restrictions on the types of decorations you can or can not use, and where to put them. How much time will you have to decorate beforehand? How long can your dance be and are there any noise bylaws in the area? Are there any restricted areas? Are there any areas on the property where you are not allowed to take photos?

Another thing to look into at your wedding venue is their liquor licences. Business are required by law to operate food and beverages in certain ways. There are rules in place that must be followed even if they seem odd to you or I. Many venues are not allowed to have open liquor on their property that was not purchased there. Some are not allowed to serve liquor at all so you may need to hire a bartender. This area is something that most of us are unfamiliar with and can be complicated. It is best to ask about this before you book your venue, or as far in advanced as possible so you have time to make necessary arrangements if needed.

Lastly, do you know what the Health and Safety protocols are at your wedding venue? Is there a guest etiquette and behaviour policy? These two things are often overlooked. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the wedding couple, and anyone else paying for the venue, to ensure guests follow any rules or guidelines laid out by the venue. Make sure everyone is aware of any important rules beforehand to avoid awkward situations, and/or legal complications.

Happy Planning

As you start looking for a wedding venue, make sure to get as much information as possible. This is key to having a stress free experience! Having a clear understanding of how the venue operates during a wedding day, gives you a better chance of avoiding the unexpected. That way, you can stay focused on the more important things, like celebrating with the love of your life!