Weddings: How to Make Venue Shopping Less Overwhelming | Knoxville Wedding Photographer

Hi friends!

I know many of you lovely couples are diving head-first into the wedding planning process right now. What an exciting time! I just love how all the unique and personal details come together in the end to create a powerful expression of who the two lovebirds are and what matters most to them.

With that said, I know wedding planning can be truly dizzying. So many important (and expensive) decisions in a short window of time! So I’d like to help you with one of your early planning stages today: picking your venue. Once you select your venue, a handful of other daunting details seem to fall into place pretty naturally. But getting over that first hurdle takes communication, focus, and a little bit of decisiveness. Here are some of my top tips for making venue shopping less overwhelming.

Talk with your partner first.

Before you start perusing Pinterest or setting up venue meetings, sit down with your fiancé and discuss what you both envision for your wedding day. Their responses might surprise you! And if there are settings that are pretty much off the table for them, it automatically helps narrow the scope of your search. Make a list of the top three venue styles you both really like, and keep to that list.

Decide whether tradition will dictate your venue style.

Next, address your families and their roles on your wedding day. For instance, if you both grew up in religious homes and your parents are providing a portion of your overall wedding budget, you might need to add a church or synagogue to your potential ceremony venue list if you haven’t already. Or if your partnership is bridging a major cultural divide, think about how the distinct ceremonies and traditions use space so you only visit venues that meet everyone’s needs.

Riverwood Mansion Wedding Nashville

Attend a wedding show.

If you want to gather a lot of venue inspiration and details in a single afternoon, register for an upcoming wedding show in your area! These events provide you with excellent opportunities to browse a variety of local and regional venues without spending every moment of your free time attending tour after tour until you find the right fit. Speaking with the coordinators in this space can also help you further narrow down your priority list or adjust your expectations before you do set up tours for yourself and your partner.

Check your budget.

As you start messaging venues about tours, go ahead and ask about the general budget required for weddings of your anticipated size in their spaces. There’s no sense in checking out a venue that easily doubles the budget you have set for this aspect of your wedding! Avoid heartache upfront and only schedule tours of venues that are real, practical options for you and your partner.

Use Instagram to your advantage.

If you’re having trouble visualizing how your wedding design details will work in a few of your preferred venues, head to their Instagram accounts and browse how other couples have used those same spaces for their nuptials. You might find that one venue clearly works better than others for you and your partner, and you might even land on some new inspiration for your color palette or florals.

Don’t overthink it.

Once you’ve found three true contenders, there’s no need to continue the hunt. Adding more options to your list will only make your decision more difficult. Instead, make a comparison chart with your top picks and go through the details with your partner to determine the best fit for both of you. Once your choice is clear, get that venue booked and cross this major to-do off your list! Done and done!


Happy Wedding Planning!
Sarah Keenan, Photographer
Knoxville, Asheville, Nashville
Tri-Cities + Chattanooga
Adventure Travel Wedding Photographer

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meet sarah


I have an affinity to all things light and airy.  I love color, sunshine, romance, and laughter.  I love inspirational quotes, meeting new people, flowers, and the idea of finishing a great book.  My go-to drink is coffee.  My outlet is dance.  And, aallllll of my free time is spent with my crew, including our German Shepherd, Gaia.   

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Hi there!  I am Real Estate Photographer, Sarah Keenan.  Raised in East Tennessee and a proud graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and all that offers runs deep for this gal.  Having worked in photography for over 14 years, I am excited to be back home and working along side folks like you.

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