For Brides

What to Look for in Your San Diego Wedding Venue

February 23, 2024

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The sw wedding guide

Made for newly engaged couples to help you navigate the planning process!


Coronado Marriott Wedding Venue in Coronado San Diego, California by Sherr Weddings.

After taking some time to celebrate and tell all your friends and family that you’re engaged, you’ll quickly start getting your first two wedding questions:

  1. What date is it? (You can check out our blog post on the top months to get married in San Diego HERE)
  2. Where will it be?

The excitement and curiosity will have everyone dying to know all about the biggest day of your life, but if you’re anything like us, choosing a wedding venue can feel super overwhelming. After all, it’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll make and will influence most of your vendor and decor decisions that follow.

As a photography and videography team and former bride and groom ourselves, we knew more of what to look for in venues when planning our San Diego wedding. So we wanted to share our knowledge with you to help you make the best decision for you!

(P.S. If you’d like to get our free Wedding Planning Guide which has lists of questions for each vendor and timeline tips, you can snag that HERE).

Getting Ready Location

There are quite a few factors when it comes to the getting ready space. Here is our breakdown of what to know:

  1. Do they have getting ready spaces for both the bride and the groom? If not, are there AirBNBs or nice hotels near by? This piece is good to know because it will influence your timeline with your hair & makeup team as well as your photography and videography team. If they do have places on site for both Bride and Groom, you won’t need extra time to drive from another spot to your venue, which means your hair and makeup can be a little later than it would need to be if you’re getting ready off site, and means you’ll have more photo/video time with your imagery team.
  2. How big is the getting ready space? This can make a huge difference on your wedding day. Some venues have super tiny getting ready spaces while other have a nice open room. If it’s super small, you most likely will not be able to have your hair and makeup team get you ready there, but you can get your dresses on there.
  3. Is there natural light? Just like the other two questions, this will influence your hair & makeup team and your imagery team. Natural light helps a lot with makeup and hair application and photos. Look for windows (the more the better), light and neutral walls, and light and neutral floors. If your room doesn’t have those things, you’ll likely be brought outside at some point throughout your H&MU as well as your photos/video.

Ceremony Space

What does the ceremony space look like? What does the lighting look like at the ceremony time? Is the alter in direct sunlight at that time or does the light come from behind it? Is it spotty?

These questions make a huge difference because it will make a difference in how your imagery team is able to capture it. Direct light where the sunlight is on your face can make you and your decor looked washed out or harsh. Light that comes from behind will give you a beautiful glow as you say your “I do’s”!

It’s also common to see venues that have their ceremonies under a large tree. In some cases, it’s gorgeous, but in others, it can cause really spotty lighting. If it is spotty, it can be very unflattering or cast green color casts onto your skin. So if those things are important to you, it’s definitely something to keep in mind!

Cocktail Hour Space

The biggest thing with cocktail hour spaces is flow. Where will the cocktail hour be held? Is it inside the reception space? Does it flow well from the ceremony to the reception? Is there room for games if you’d like to have those available or a live band if that’s something you’d like to have?

Another important thing to think about is if it is in front of the venue’s common portrait spot(s). If it is, you may be taking pictures and being filmed in front of your guests. If that doesn’t matter to you, then you’re good to go either way, but if you’d rather have those moments be more intimate, that is something to consider.

Photo Spot Locations

As we’re sure you can imagine, this piece is one of our favorite set of questions! Your portraits are arguably the most important set of your whole day. It’s what will be in your wedding album and what will be passed down from generation to generation. They’re your wedding day legacy!

When you think about your portraits, is there a lot of variety in the landscape? Are there several options for backdrops? Check out past couples’ galleries or photos at the venue (you can always check the photos they are tagged in on Instagram) to see if you like the overall look of what the venue has to offer!

Reception Space

Your reception space should have a good flow to it as well. You’ll want there to be enough room for your tables and decor and match the vibe you have envisioned for your wedding day. The bar should be in a spot that makes sense and not right next to the dance floor (no broken glass around here!). Is the dance floor big enough for how many guests you hope to have? Is there a spot for your guests to mingle if they don’t want to dance and would rather chat?

Similar to the ceremony questions, it’s also important to consider the color casts from the walls and floors. Sometimes receptions with orangey-walls (commonly found in barn or woodsy venues) will cast those colors onto your skin when your imagery team uses flash or lights. The more neutrals the walls and floors, the more flattering on your skin!

Weather Backups

While the weather is most commonly 75 degrees and sunny here in San Diego, having a solid weather backup plan is still important. We find that a lot of venues around us have no plan at all, which can be very stressful for a bride who sees some rain on the weather forecast. Asking your venue ahead of time if they have a weather plan and making sure you like their backup is very important. Hopefully you won’t have to use it, but it will be so relieving to know that worst case scenario, you’re not saying, “I do!” in the rain!

Final Thoughts

While all of those questions may not apply to you or be something that applies to you, knowing some potential questions to have is always helpful in our book! Take what you like, leave what you don’t, and know that whatever venue you choose will be the most special place for your wedding day. Congratulations!

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