I don’t talk often enough about the great wedding venues that our area has to offer. So I’m going to attempt to change that by giving you a non-solicited “from the vendor” review of a few area locations I’ve worked in that are considered some of the more popular wedding reception venues.
I’m starting with the Purple Iris because it is closest to us, only about two miles north. Situated just slightly off the road, there’s a nice feeling of privacy even if you’re out on the front drive or the side garden. I like that you really do have to pull around back to park, because it frees up the front view for excellent photos with this glorious mansion.
The venue sports a large back field area, a nice side wooded area, a small garden area on the south side, and a beautiful well landscaped area in the front of the mansion. If you look around, you can also do some isolated area shots near the parking lot on the south side.
The specifications of how many people the venue can hold are on their website. We have seen comfortable seating for 100 or so in both the main indoor hall and the outdoor tented porch. The back field area also can host a large number of rows of chairs for an outdoor ceremony. The indoor parlors and rooms can serve a number of functions, with the main dining room often being used as the buffet area for lunch and dinner events. I won’t even go into the spacious area on the second floor for things like small assemblies, meetings and even a nice, quiet meal (they also have a restaurant).
The Carriage House has two first floor rooms, complete with all the facilities you need for either a night’s stay or a get-ready room for the bride. Bathrooms, tubs, beds and all the amenities make it perfect for putting the finishing touches on before the wedding starts. There is also a room up on the second floor, and although I’ve only been up there a couple of times, it was also quite spacious and ready for just about anything.
The food at Purple Iris is always spectacular. From the main entrees and vegetables, to the salads, rolls and desserts. I can’t say enough about how good the food is, which is a plus when you are making enough to feed 100+ people… many caterers rarely get it right every time for that quantity of people – but the Purple Iris does.
Last, but surely not least, is the service. I often applaud Tiffany for her top-notch no-nonsense service, because the servers are not only on top of their game, but they do it seamlessly and without much fanfare. The job just gets done, and everyone seems to know what to do… very few mistakes, and if there are, I’m certain they are handled quickly.
I enjoy working at the Purple Iris for all of the things I’ve listed above. Working with professionals at this level is a pleasure, and it always makes me a happy when someone says “we’re getting married at the Purple Iris.”
In the last several years, there has been a growing (and now waning) influx of new photographers. Many have good technical knowledge of a few methods and techniques. Others have promises of a great bargain for “the CD” of your wedding photos. But what none of them will tell you is that they have plenty of experience. And the reason they aren’t going to tell you that (and keep a straight face) is because they don’t have the experience that a seasoned professional does.
In most weddings, there will be a very organized series of events that were designed to go flawlessly. Perhaps they followed the example of Cousin So-And-So’s wedding. They used the same florist, caterer and venue. This pretty much ensures those are the people who did it right before, so they can do it again. But unlike flowers and food, there are a lot of variables in photography.
Let’s take light, for example. The weather is such a big factor in the quality of outdoor light that many don’t think twice about saying that they can do it. Trouble is, they may not have encountered the situation you are facing with the light conditions for your venue or on-location shoot. From bright sunlight, to patchy clouds, overhead trees, and even late day sunlight… these all change the conditions of the photography and how adjustments are made to accommodate them.
Of course, I have an example. This is from a wedding last year. We were at a local park, and my assistant had set up the lights where I needed them. The objective here was to balance the light as best possible for the surrounding conditions. There were also some soccer goals and patchy light on the ground to contend with, not to mention a bare spot in one area that was kind of glaring.
Standing next to me was a friend of the bride (I assume). She took the picture below.
I won’t go into much more than just to say that seeing the bride’s face, her beautiful flowers, the rest of the dress, and even the tiara on her head would have been nice.
So, I took my picture. Planned and laid out with lighting, with a few post-processing adjustments.
There is a difference. The soccer goals are gone, the patches on the ground are diminished, and it’s a beautiful sunny day in the park. I love that we can see her lovely flowers, tiara and face.
I know what your next argument is… money. Let me put it to you this way. Would you rather spend $200 for a CD of “okay” pictures that ends up in a drawer, or would you rather cut back a little on the wedding niceties (the things that are for everyone else) and spend a little more on an experienced professional that can handle most of the situations that come up, and consistently produce great images? If the choice is obvious to you, then you are one of two types of people: You care about the memories or you don’t.
You may contact us for more examples of the difference between experience and the new photographer. We’re always happy to share.
There are times when you view a wedding as one of those opportunities to see everything in a new light. This was a BIG wedding with lots of people and lots of stuff going on. The young people stayed on the dance floor, and the non-dancers caught up with family and friends. It was just such a good time!
They say that a wedding can be planned overnight, with the right people and the right circumstances. While I’ve yet to see that happen, at least with any detail and glitz, this one came pretty close. With only about 30 days of planning, this wedding went off with nary a hitch (well, except the happy couple GETTING hitched). We enjoyed every minute.
Never let it be said that we can’t take the heat. This beautiful wedding at the lovely Purple Iris in Martinsburg, West Virgina is living testament to how far we’ll go to make great images for you. The forecast temperature was for 101 degrees (Fahrenheit), but there was also no breeze and plenty of sun through the early part of the wedding. And still, it was a perfect day!
The old saying “the wedding doesn’t start without the bride” certainly held true for this wedding. A combination of makeup, hair, and getting dressed made the ceremony late… but the rest of it was so glorious, I’m not sure anyone really cared.
They’ve been together since, well… a long time. But from the wedding, you wouldn’t know it. A small gathering of family and close friends made for a lot of opportunities.
Erica and Frank are one of those amazing couples whose relationship seems more like a great partnership than merely a marriage. We enjoyed there wedding, starting at Asbury United Methodist Church in Charles Town, WV. From there, we moved to Morgan’s Grove Park in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, then finally the reception at Clarion Inn and Conference Center in Shepherdstown.
Emily and Brian were married at Leiter’s Downtown in the heart of Hagerstown, Maryland. Everything was very beautiful with stunning colors and a simplicity that really made the flow of the wedding fun and enjoyable for all. We wish the happy couple in their lives together!
I love new (to me) venues, because there are lots of challenges and opportunities to discover things from a different perspective.
Jodi and Randy had what I want to call a very modern wedding in a very traditional venue. Held at Ceresville Mansion near Frederick, MD, the late afternoon service gave us lots of really nice lighting opportunities.