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Welcome back to Let’s Cut the Cake! This is our newest series on AJ and I planning our own wedding as a pair of wedding photographers! Over the next year, we’ll be sharing our process and inviting you in on our decision making and witnessing trial + errors! It’s called Let’s Cut the Cake because that’s what AJ and I will be doing on May 16th, 2020!! Can’t wait to have you all along on this crazy long, messy path that is actually planning a wedding.
Last time, we went over our priorities when it came to picking and choosing vendors. We went over the first few that we knew we had to have, and why they were our first choices! You can see that post here!
In my humble opinion, the venue is one of the hardest choices. It may be that this choice will dictate so many other choices down the line. So there’s quite a bit of pressure on this choice!
But also, your venue immediately denotes your general ~vibe~ of your wedding day. Not only in the way it looks from an architectural stand point, but in its general design and decor style.
Do you want it to feel like home? With similar decor and style of your own house? Do you want it to feel totally whimsical and dreamy? Relaxed and simple?
Every single aspect of your day is going to be impacted by the way your venue looks.
This might sound odd, but I think the color the walls are can literally change everything about your wedding day.
Let me explain..
That color is going to affect the cast of the photos. Then it will affect the cast of the lighting on the ceiling and walls, and the cast on candles on the tables. That light will get bounced around and around, on your guests’ faces, on the florals, basically everywhere.
Imagine a dark brown, fully wooden room with dark lacquered floors. Light is not going to bounce around easy in there, and when it does, it’s going to reflect whatever color or tint that wood is. Now imagine if it was a deep orange instead of a dark brown wood…orange casts everywhere!
This is what I mean about that paint color affecting your guests’ mood, your general vibe, definitely your photos, and then the way you inevitably remember the day. It’s going to affect everything!
Choosing our venue was one of those decisions that was most likely hindered by the fact that we’re in the wedding industry.
In the Austin area, there are hundreds and hundreds of wedding venues. There are new ones we’ve never heard of popping up each day, and there are old ones that are too beautiful and established for us to afford.
Off the bat, here are a few things that were a necessity to us:
Austin is our home and both of our immediate families are here! It wouldn’t feel right to go anywhere else.
#1 being a necessity makes #2 an even bigger necessity. AJ also noted that laqured, light colored cement floors were a must for him. (This is news to me after writing this !) He said it’s a bit industrial but it adds to how bright and crisp the light gets at a venue.
We know this is important for photos, but we also wanted to feel surrounded by the hill country!
Basically we didn’t want a floor plan that hindered our guests to mingle everywhere! And a space where everyone can feel together all the time, not closed off in one room or the other.
This was absolutely our main priority. While there are sooo many beautiful places we’ve shot at in the past, places I could very well see us getting married at! I know me and I know every corner I turn at those venues, I would envision a photo I had previously taken of one of our couples.
And while in all cases, that would make my heart happy to remember back fondly on their day, this day has to be about us! I wanted to be able to look at our venue with fresh eyes.
The least likely way I thought I would find any vendor for our wedding…
Via hashtags…! Like what?? That’s how it happened!
This was the easiest way I could think to find a new venue. I can’t remember exactly what I searched, but it was probably just #austinwedding.
When I found Sunset Ranch, it was like a dream. I remember calling AJ and saying “I think I just found our venue…?” I was definitely skeptical of how perfect it all appeared to be.
We shot them an email and made plans to visit ASAP!
My biggest piece of advice if you want a seamless day: 1, hire a full service planner. Duh. But 2, look for a wedding venue that was built for that purpose. Other venues that just get turned into a wedding venue, they are lacking in most necessities for a wedding. Sometime there’s only one “getting ready room” versus two separate suites. The lighting can be off, the floor plan doesn’t make sense. Trust me on this one.
But Sunset Ranch was made with a wedding day in mind. On one of their ceremony sites outside, they laid out astro turf instead of regular grass. One, it won’t die (yay!) but two, if it rains the night before or even morning of your wedding (hello, Texas weather) if they sun comes out you can still have your ceremony outside and not have to worry about mud!
The venue was built the right way West, so during your ceremony you won’t be squinting if you’re outside. There’s a built in speaker system, the bridal and grooms’ suite have adequate, clean lighting and amenities. It just has everything you could think of!
The point is they’ve thought of all the little things that wedding venues need to keep in mind. All those things that add up to make the day really easy.
Just like our third must have, it has the most gorgeous setting. It’s on the top of a hill, surrounded by the gorgeous hill country. The parking lot is way off to the side, so during the ceremony and even the reception you look out and only see the rolling hills and the sunset (hence the name). One more of those little things!
The fact that it’s on a pretty high hill means there’s always a breeze, and always a little bit cooler. We visited almost exactly on our wedding day, and it was bizarrely breezy and nice up there. Win win!
Added bonus: because it’s surrounded by hills, there’s so much wildlife! We’ve visited twice and we saw groups of deer each time. There were plenty of bunny sitings while we were there, although I never caught them! This bonus is the best bonus I could think of.
I love that it has all garage doors on one side, one for the light and two because it easily opens up to be one giant space!
Another bonus: the bar is built into a corner, so you can have both an outdoor and indoor bar at the same location! And the bartenders won’t get too hot from being outside. It’s genius!!!
It’s basically brand new! They had only had one wedding in the space when we booked last year. Since then, it’s been so fun to see the second, third, and so on weddings in the space as they grow!
But obviously we loved this because there were barely any photos of it. No spoiling for my own photo memory brain!
And this means we got a seriously killer deal on it!! I’m so grateful we found it when we did, because I know if we went back to book it today, it would already be out of our price range.
I’m so in love with our venue!! It’s such a dream come true. I cannot wait to start deciding all the little things. It’s a big, white beautiful canvas!!!
Because it’s in Fredericksburg (about an hour and a half outside of Austin), our wedding will be kind of a “mini destination” wedding. (Okay, obviously not really, but we’ll be going to a whole new town with everyone! That’s a destination for my homebody self!)
I’ll be diving into how we’re planning for that soon…! Stay tuned!
If you’re married or getting married, how did you find your venue? Did you know where you were going to look or did you just happen upon it like we did? Tell me in the comments below!
We are an Austin, Texas-based wedding photography duo committed to celebrating your Big Day by capturing every joyous, unscripted moment.