How do you choose a wedding venue?

How do you choose a wedding venue?

Your perfect venue is out there! Read on for a few helpful tips.



Finding the perfect venue is likely at the top of your list if you’re a newly engaged couple and planning the big day. The right venue for you and your guests is a huge part of the wedding but is something that can be difficult to finalise due to the huge number of venues and their differing styles. It can be easy to fall in love with a venue online but make sure you view it before committing to anything! The venue will determine things such as the number of guests you can accommodate, the overall style of wedding you can have, your budget, entertainment, type of ceremony, the list goes on!

Here are a few tips to help with the decision process of choosing your venue:


Is the location right? 


Will your guests be happy to travel? It’s not uncommon these days for the whole guestlist to travel to a location many miles from home as it is your “perfect venue”. While this works for some weddings it might not work for all. I’ve worked at weddings where over 100 people have travelled trans-Atlantic to attend the big day. If it’s going to be closer to home you may have to provide coaches and think of accommodation in and around the venue for your guests. Most weddings will have friends and family that have to travel to attend who may live further afield.


Is the capacity right?


This is really a major factor in the decision process. It will help to draw up a rough guest list before looking at venues to know what your numbers might be (consult your parents on this one too as they may want a fair few folks invited that you wouldn’t have thought of). The size and layout of the venue are really important. Too big and it may feel empty and too small it could be cramped or have guests spread over different rooms etc. It always helps to see a venue dressed for a real wedding. If this is not possible the second best thing is to search for a wedding film or photography blog that features the venue. A room may appear very large but when there are twelve tables that seat ten people in it it looks very different!


Does it fit with your theme and style?


At this stage, you may or may not know what your style/theme is. If you do know this can make things a whole lot easier. If for example you really want a barn wedding or a hotel wedding then that’s a huge milestone in the planning process. Some couples love the grandeur of stately home or palace type venues such as Dumfries House, Springkell Mansion. Hopetoun House or Ardgown Estate.  Barn or rustic venues have been very popular in the last few years too.  Great examples of these are GG’s Yard on the Galloway Coast, The Cow Shed at Crail in Fife, Harelaw Farm and Dalduff Farm in Ayrshire. Often this type of venue really is a blank canvas and you can literally add what you want. GG’s yard is quite unique in this sector as while it is a rustic style venue it is also very grand! I’ve never actually been in another venue quite like it and I love it for that reason. Many people opt for a stunning hotel in a city centre location or a marquee on private land. The possibilities are endless. Last year I did a wedding at a lifeboat station where the bride arrived on a lifeboat! It was amazing!


Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club – A baronial country house with fantastic surroundings.

natural wedding photography



Springkell Mansion House – A beautiful Palladian Mansion in South Scotland.

Scottish Wedding Photography



Lee Haggarty Photography



Dumfries House – An exquisite 18th-century country home which offers everything you require for your big day.

Scottish wedding photography



Glasgow City Halls and Old Fruit Market – A fantastic City Centre venue in the heart of the Merchant City area of Glasgow. A real hidden gem!

Old Fruit Market Wedding



Make a list of your “must haves”


Budget, try and find out before viewing if your budget fits the venue. Don’t look at venues that are out of reach budget wise. Ask for bar tariffs on the day, are the figures inclusive of VAT, is everything you see included in the quoted price etc?

Suppliers, does the venue have a contract with any suppliers that you are tied in to use in a package deal? Are you allowed to bring in your own suppliers? Most of the time you are but it’s still worth checking.

Catering, can the venue provide the type of cuisine you would like etc? You may want something like a hog roast buffet, is this possible?

Live Music, quite a big one this as the right band can really make or break the evening reception. Check the venue is allowed to have a live band play. Is there a sound limiter and if so what is the setting? Bands often turn up and struggle to do their job because of a low threshold noise limiter set by the authorities.

Fireworks/Drones etc, are these allowed at the venue? If you have your heart set on a fireworks display or a drone film this may be an influencing factor.


What is the venue lighting like?


From a photographers point of view, this one is quite a big deal. Some venues have great light indoors and some don’t. This certainly doesn’t mean one is better than the other, they just look different. Bear this in mind as it will influence your pictures and film. Some people love dark and moody venues that have lots of candles and some love really bright and airy spaces full of natural daylight. If having some great landscapes in your pictures is a priority you may want to consider the location of the venue too or maybe consider travelling to a location away from the venue for a photo shoot. City centre weddings are becoming more popular and I love them! Street images are really cool and great fun to shoot.


How will the day flow?


Many venues share spaces between different parts of the day.  It’s quite common for the ceremony to take place in the same room as the dinner and evening reception. This means the venue has to be “turned around” between these parts. Ask how long that might take and check there are suitable areas for guests to mingle etc. The venue may have lots of outside space which can be great but remember it could rain! Is there a wet weather contingency area? If you are having a church wedding bear in mind the time it takes to travel to the reception venue when finalising your ceremony time. It’s not uncommon to lose an hour and a half travelling between church and reception depending on the distance. This can seriously affect the amount of time the creatives have to do your couples photo shoot and family group shots etc. The last thing we want is to delay the speeches and meal but we have to get out part done too.

Does the venue provide a manager/master of ceremonies on the day? This can really assist with timings and having people where they need to be at specific times.

Choosing a combined photo and video package

Choosing a combined photo and video package

Why choose a combined photo and video package?


Lots of weddings have a photographer and videographer capture the day. Nothing new there. It is an option to choose a company who can supply both.  Read on to learn more and find out the ins and outs of using a combined team…


Is a combined package a form of “fusion photography?”

No. Fusion is generally when a photographer takes short clips of video throughout the day and produces a highlights film of around 3-5 minutes. What I am referring to is a full film package as well as photography but supplied by the same team. As some of you will know I have shot wedding films since 2011 under my other company Swift Productions. This is what led me to start doing photography as many clients used to ask if I could do photos in the same style as my films and now I do.


What are the advantages of doing it this way?

There a few reasons. The main one for me is that we know exactly where each other needs to be and when. Ideally neither the photographer or videographer should appear in any shots. This is sometimes difficult if someone enters into close proximity of the couple at the ceremony or perhaps in front of the top table at the speeches. Nine times out of ten this is done in an entirely innocent fashion but it does happen none the less.  Shooting styles also come into the equation. Why? You may have a photographer and videographer who have very different styles. This can add to the time it takes during couple shoots. When we work as a team it flows like clockwork. TIme on your wedding day is precious and it’s a balancing act between getting amazing creative shots and being away from your guests for hours on end! The last thing we want!

Photography-wise I only use flash in spaces that really require it as opposed to some photographers who use it most of the time for creative effect. Flash doesn’t look good on a video. This is not a who’s right and wrong but more of a personal mix of style and taste etc. As both my films and photography are shot in a very natural manner we don’t tend to pose you much but prefer to let you do “your thing” while we get some great natural shots. We may pose you a little from time to time but we won’t spend 15 minutes positioning your hand for a ring shot! Yes, that does go on in some cases!


Do you only work as a combined package?

No. I’m always happy to work with other individuals and have shot hundreds of weddings with many great photographers and videographers. Communication is key between us and explaining to each other how we work beforehand if we have not previously worked together.


Is it cheaper if we book a combined package? 

Not really. This concept isn’t about saving money but optimizing efficiency and workflow while maintaining a style in both products. Packages can be tailored and extra photographers and video operators added if required. This is especially handy if you need two sets of preparations covered.


Is quality compromised by using a combined team?

Definitely not!!! Quite the opposite in fact. Photo and Film are like everything else in life. One person’s chocolate is another person’s poison so to speak. Be sure to do your homework and ask all the questions you need to and judge on results and portfolios etc. Deals that are too good to be true usually are. Please don’t end up on well-known daytime TV programmes as your supplier has done a bunk with your money or lost all of your media! Yes, it happens!


If you would like info on either photography or video packages just get in touch through either website.

Below is an example of a combined package from last summer. Amanda and Kris travelled with friends and family from Washington Scotland and had an amazing few days at the stunning Springkell Mansion House. Check it out!




Springkell Wedding Photography

Natural wedding photography Dumfries

Scottish wedding photography

Scottish wedding

Lee Haggarty Wedding Photography

Scottish Wedding Photography

Lee Haggarty Photography

Lee Haggarty Photography Scottish wedding

Springkell wedding Lee Haggarty Photography

Lee Haggarty Photography

Lee Haggarty Photography

Lee Haggarty Photography

Lee Haggarty Photography


Choosing your wedding photographer

Choosing your wedding photographer



5 Things To Help Choose Your Wedding Photographer



So, you’ve been to the wedding fair, spent days on google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and looked at hundreds of photographers and you still feel bamboozled with it all and can’t decide whats right for you?

Every one of us wedding photographers have heard horror stories regarding photography so its imperative you hire one of us that fits your brief. This is not a decision to be taken lightly as its a significant spend in the overall budget of the big day. This is my own little guide that may help you choose who and what style is right for you so here goes!

How to choose your perfect wedding photographer

Number 1:

Book me, switch off your computer and delete your Facebook account! I’m kidding obviously so read on….

The Proper  Number 1:

Decide on a style that suits you guys. We can’t do this for you but we can offer a little guidance that may help. The chances are you’ve never done this before or may not have been involved a wedding for some time and things have changed somewhat over the last few years!

Here are some rough ideas category wise:


This style generally documents the day as it happens with minimalist posing and family shots etc. Often these guys will not intervene in any part of the day but have a great eye for catching a shot very quickly and sometimes before it even happens. Some will not do any posed images or family group shots etc. Generally, your day is captured and the story told by the photographs. Often these guys have worked in journalism and event work such as concerts and festivals etc.


This style will probably immediately spring to mind for a lot of people (especially parents and grandparents) when the words “wedding photography” is mentioned. Quite often lots of family group shots and staged poses with the photographer running fairly large parts of the day and telling everyone where to be etc. Not as common nowadays but still out there in large numbers and many do a fantastic job in their style.


These are not really one thing or another and very much work with what they have on the day. You’ll get some documentary, some posed, some group shots etc and most of the time a great eye for detail and use of light. They will also be able to work relatively quickly and get the best out of you the client.

So which is your preferred style? Only you can decide that I’m afraid so you need to do some research. Get a notepad (create a spreadsheet if your that way inclined) and take notes about styles and jot some names down etc or add bookmarks to your web browser in a favorites folder. My style is a combination of documentary and creative. I will spend large parts of the day just snapping away and may pose you for some shots. I’ve got a good nose for predicting what’s about to happen and move fast! At the same time I do love detail and emotion. I also love to make your couple shots quite dramatic but also with a fun vibe. Natural laughter and happiness are brilliant in pictures and something I try to achieve in every shoot. I like to keep my family/group shots to around 10 or so. If you need 75 groups maybe I’m not the right person for your job.If you have your venue sorted already then search for blogs on the venue by photographers. This can be a great way of seeing the venue for real and seeing how a particular photographer may work there. Also, don’t be put off if a photographer has never worked at your venue as often they may do a scouting trip before the big day to check it out or look at others work there for tips and inspiration. We also have good social media groups among us and often communicate about all manner of things regarding the industry.

Number 2: Try and meet with your Photographer. 

This in many ways is easier than ever due to video calling through Skype/Facetime etc if you are not local. If you are local a face to face meeting can be even better. You may also have met each other at a previous wedding. This can be especially good as you have seen how the person works on the day. An engagement shoot is also a good idea to get a feel for each other and try a few shots to see how you get on together. I regularly work with couples from overseas and find FaceTime a great tool to have those face to face chats and answer questions etc. You need to know who you are dealing with as some photographers are grumpy, bossy or just downright not nice people! It baffles me but its true! I’ve actually seen it first hand! You spend a fair amount of time with us creatives on the day and we have to get on well. We also have a knack of managing to reduce stress levels at the right moment! Not that you’ll be stressed on the big day of course!! Eeeek!!

Number 3: Budget. 

Photography prices vary drastically! Fact! I often see full day coverage being advertised for £200 but know photographers who charge £10,000. The value of photography is completely subjective and what one person loves another may hate and so on. Many things contribute to the price of a particular persons packages. Time on the day, post-production and editing, album costs, insurance, equipment the list goes on. You have to find someone who’s work and personality you like with a price you like and a package/level of cover that suits your requirements. The key bit of advice is go for the best you can afford. If this means sacrificing something else then that may be a good call as your creative side of the wedding stays with you forever. Some things that may be an influence on the day can cost several hundred pounds and hardly be noticed. When did you last see a chocolate fountain? They were all the rage ten years ago though. Don’t be sucked in by special offers that are too good to be true as they often are! You will find many weekend warriors who deal in cash only as they are doing it “on the side”. This means they can be really cheap and probably don’t have the correct insurances in place etc.

Number 4: Have a good old rummage around the tinterweb! 

Social media has made it easier than ever to find out about people, particularly suppliers in the wedding industry! Once you have a shortlist have a good old dig around. Ask loads of questions that relate to your day but first read through websites and look at the details. Often most of your questions can be answered by looking through sites thoroughly and reading FAQ’s. Ask to see a full wedding gallery to get an idea of exactly what you get for your money. Look at reviews online and feedback etc. Ask around in social media groups etc.

Some essential questions are:

Do they carry spare/backup equipment on the day? – If the answer is no then run for the hills!! I always have at least two camera bodies with me and a selection of lenses, spare batteries etc. Nothing left to chance.

Are they fully insured for public liability and professional indemnity?  – These are a standard requirement and 99% of venues will ask for a copy of the liability insurance before working there. Always go for insured suppliers.

What about illness or injury? – Well, it does happen as we are all human beings. I would have to be pretty ill or involved in an accident to not make your wedding but thankfully most of us know enough good people who can assist should the situation arise. On the rare occasions that we have weekends off in summer months, we usually have our camera bags fully charged and good to go just in case someone needs us to step up at short notice.

Number 5: Last things..

GET A CONTRACT!!!! Any wedding supplier worth their salt will insist on contracts being signed that outline exactly what is provided by each other. Read the small print and t’s and c’s so there are no surprises on the day or prior to the wedding. You may have to provide a meal as we often work a 15 hour day with little time to rest and nowhere to grab something. Ask questions, get answers and have peace of mind in the suppliers you are booking. Book wisely and the day will run smoothly. The last thing you want is to end up on some daytime TV show with a sad face! It sounds like a joke but it happens! Don’t let it!

So get typing that email to me and get me booked!!! I’m kidding obviously. Hopefully, this will have provided a little help with what can be a complex process. The biggest thing of all is to have a blast on your big day and cherish every moment as it is over in a flash!!





Lee Haggarty Photography



Springkell Wedding | Summer 2018

Springkell Wedding | Summer 2018

A visit to the wonderful Springkell Mansion House for Amanda and Kris’ wedding. Everything was planned form across the pond in the USA for this one. A great bunch of people and we had an absolute blast.

Springkell Wedding Photography

Thankfully our heatwave had receded slightly on the day and gave us some lovely light to play with.

Lee Haggarty Photography


So nice to be a part of this day from start to the fabulous Fireworks finale!

Lee Haggarty Photography

good luck for the future guys!

Lee Haggarty Photography

Lochside House | Winter Wedding

Lochside House | Winter Wedding

Michael and Ryans wedding at Lochside House Hotel and Spa. This was a film job for us and it was a superb wedding in every way!

The level of detail that these two guys went into was amazing! The best cake table I have ever seen bar none! The night was handled by The Brightside band who had the dance floor filled for every song!

Check out their film below in glorious 4K