How to Choose the Best Wedding Photography Location

How to Choose the Best Wedding Photography Location

Let’s talk remarkable wedding photography – more specifically – how to choose the best wedding photography locations for YOU to guarantee breathtaking wedding photos! 

We all know it’s a ‘must’ on the wedding checklist. But why is photography so important? Here’s a few reasons… These photos will be a keepsake of your day. They’re your memories paused in time, so they can last a lifetime. These photos will tell a story, not just any story, but the story of your love.

  • You’ll never forget what the weather was like that day.
  • You’ll never forget how the colors of your floral centerpieces popped.
  • You’ll never forget how big your smiles were.
  • You’ll never forget the love, because you’ll feel it.

But there’s that portion of the day where you get to take what’s known as ‘romantics’; you, your husband and the bridal party at a special, meaningful location but WHERE is that spot for you?

Here are 4 questions you need to ask yourself…

1. What matters to you?

Time. You can select a location close to either the ceremony or the reception location. A lovely park is typically a stone’s throw away. You and your husband are the focal point, a simple background will do. Plus, you’ll cut down on travel time which means more time for more photos and keep the day on track!

Meaning. Maybe it’s somewhere you had your first date, the place where you got engaged, the parks you go running in weekly etc. the options are endless. If it’s a location that matters to you, your photos will shine.

Art. If you’re looking for something artistic and trendy, head to a downtown location to get that urban feel, check out old train tracks, find beautiful architecture to use as your muse. There’s something about the juxtaposition of an elegant bridal gown and rustic backdrop that just works!

wedding photographer with groomsmen

PRO TIP: The location you select may also be based on the style of wedding photography you like. What? There are different styles? Sure are…

2. What’s your photo style?

Photojournalistic. 

Don’t want staged, posed photos? Then ask your wedding photography to focus on more on the candid or spontaneous moments of the day.

Traditional

This is all about the people and their smiles. Group shots, family, friends — everyone’s included to capture your classic wedding moments.

Artistic

You can expect images shot from unique angles, composed with tilted frames or objects in focus while others are not. Artistic shooters will often use lighting to create drama in their images.

Stylized (Most preferred!)

This is a blend between the storytelling elements of photojournalism with elements of traditional photography. Images often have an artistic nature, using blurred backgrounds, different levels of focus and a variety of angles.

Did You Know? With Mike Staff Productions, we’ll introduce you to a series of professional wedding photographers through video profiles. You’ll be able to see their personality, check out their style and see if they are a perfect fit for you and your wedding day.

3. Do you need a permit? (Avoid fees!)

Before you get your heart set on your dream venue or a specific place for pictures — it pays to check if a permit is required. It’s a thing! Who knew?

Check if You Need a Permit

wedding photography with bride and groom

Mike Staff Productions has had the opportunity to photograph at virtually every location in Metro Detroit and our team has developed this guide to help ease any permit pain while you plan.

Here’s a wedding photo permit cheat sheet:

Tick. Tock.

Always start the permit process at least 90 days in advance, sooner is always better to avoid issues.

Location, Location, Location!

National and State Parks along with historic locations will always have additional rules and requirements involved when booking.

Unexpected Expense

Even if you’re not getting married at a specific location, fees and applications may still be required to simply have pictures taken for engagement sessions or ‘Romantic Sessions’ prior to your reception. To avoid getting the boot — call ahead!

4. Where will you get your pictures taken?

Ok, now with the above details in mind — let’s focus on the perfect photography location for you! Keep in mind this list isn’t just for wedding day photos! Looking for an awesome engagement photo shoot location? This list is for you, too!

Our experts have come up with a huuuuge list of places to choose throughout Michigan (broken down by county). Some are classic, unique, fresh, urban, even Maize & Blue (wink, wink).

Have fun scrolling through the list until you find what your perfect fit is!

Wayne County / Detroit:

Belle Isle

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Belle Isle Fountain Detroit

Belle Isle is the only place you can get a photo with an awesome view of Detroit from the water in the background. The Casino on Belle Isle is absolutely elegant with its beautiful early 1900’s charm and the architecture it is truly stunning. Remember, this is now a state park so all vehicles are required to have a recreational passport sticker or purchase a day pass. If you plan to shoot at the casino, it is best to call and confirm there are no private events taking place.

Pro Tip: Belle Isle is now run by the DNR. Make sure to call ahead to gain proper access. Parl fee’s may me required 

Best season:

Spring    Summer

Fall       Winter

 The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village

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The Henry Ford Museum Dearborn

Walking the grounds will take you on a romantic stroll back in time to a magic age in Detroit’s history. The photos will be one of a kind and truly unique. Popular locations include the covered bridge, train, Lovett Hall & Model T cars. Bridal parties that are hosting their reception on the grounds can arrange to be escorted around the property for photos in a Model T. This is also a great location for engagement photos!

Best season:

Spring    Summer

Fall        Winter

Downtown Plymouth

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Downtown Plymouth

Let’s face it The Inn at St. John’s is one of the most popular places to get married in metro Detroit. So, if you’re looking to shake up your wedding pictures some place nearby, downtown Plymouth is a great spot. You’ll have access to the Kellogg Park Fountain, great architecture and a fun bustling downtown feel!.

Best season:

Spring   Summer

Fall      Winter

Comerica Park

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Comerica Park Detroit

A MUST for Tiger’s fans! Internationally recognized Comerica Park in downtown Detroit would be a great choice for a fun shoot, for so many reasons. The giant tiger out front is great for Bridal Party shots. Always make sure to check the Tigers game schedule ahead of time, if there is a game it can make parking difficult and your photos will include Tigers fans in the background. Comerica Park offers a great flavor of Detroit!

Best season:

Spring    Summer

Fall        Winter

Detroit Riverfront

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Detroit riverfront

The area behind the Renaissance Center consists of a great old-style carousel. In the carousel, there is a popular heart piece that couples often choose to sit in that is truly unique and beautiful. Another neat feature is the walk-through fountain. This is often popular with bridal parties who are hoping to get some really fun action shots. During the summer though, be aware that there will be local kids and residents playing in the fountain. There are also many interesting and iconic architectural pieces and easily accessible landmarks.

Best season:

Spring Summer

Fall     Winter

Woodward Avenue

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Woodward Avenue Detroit

Woodward Avenue has some pretty cool spots including the Fox Theater and Hockeytown Cafe. Photographers are known to stop traffic in these locations to get the perfect shot…often while standing in the middle of Woodward! This location has Detroit pride and history all over it. It is a landmark of Detroit and has a great downtown feel.

Best season:

Spring    Summer

Fall      Winter

Hart Plaza

Hart Plaza Detroit

Hart Plaza Named after Senator Philip A. Hart, this plaza hosts some of Detroit’s most popular events. Included in the plaza are displays of public art, an ice rink and several amphitheaters. This location offers many opportunities for wedding photos and it is also the #1 spot for watching fireworks in Detroit. Hart Plaza is an iconic stretch and is becoming more and more popular for both engagement and wedding pictures.

Best season:

Spring    Summer

Fall      Winter

Michigan Central Station

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Old Detroit Train Station

The Detroit Train Station is a vintage ruin that stands tall and proud in the Detroit skyline . It is truly a relic of Detroit. The station was constructed in the Beaux- Arts Classical style of architecture. This would be a beautiful, historic backdrop for your pictures. A popular shot taken here is to have the entire bridal party on the front lawn with the building in the background. Entry into the building is not permitted as it is not structurally sound or safe.

Best season:

Spring   Summer

Fall       Winter

Detroit Institute of Arts

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Detroit Institute of Art

Located on Woodward, the Detroit Institute of the Arts (DIA) is one of gems of downtown. There are fountains, structures and the front steps just to name a few places where you could get pictures taken. There is also a beautiful wrought iron gate. The overall feel of the DIA is very high class and sophisticated. Another bonus of shooting here would be that you could possibly head over to the Detroit Public Library (across the street) and get some pictures taken on the 3rd floor over there. There are some restrictions (no flash, no patrons in pictures) in the library, but you would get a lot of options within a small area.

Best season:

Spring    Summer

Fall        Winter

Detroit BONUS:

Want to be a wedding photography trend setter? (Duh!) These locations that popped up in 2017 are so new, Mike Staff Productions cameras haven’t even had the oppurtunity to shoot here yet (I mean, LCA still has construction equipment on site). So, if you’re a new bride — these two locations will be HUGE for phootgraphy and videography in 2018, get on board now!

District Detroit / Little Caesars Arena

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You don’t get any more new and modern than The District Detroit — it’s barely been broken in! You’d surrounded by 50 blocks of thriving businesses, parks, restaurants, bars and of course, Little Caesars Arena. If you’re a couple that craves a vibrant urban setting, look no further!

Best season:

Spring   Summer

Fall      Winter

The BELT

Between Broadway and Library St., Detroit

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The BELT is relatively new, and would be a GREAT space to take photos! (Check out their website!) Bottom line: it’s an alley in Detroit that got a modern facelift.  The colors will blow you away. It received its name because it’s located in what was the former downtown garment district, and it links Gratiot and Grand River Ave. The alley was developed as a partnership between the Library Street Collective and Bedrock Real Estate Services.

Best season:

Spring     Summer

Fall        Winter

Oakland County:

Downtown Rochester

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Holiday lights downtown Rochester

Downtown Rochester is filled with adorable shops and some great back alleys that all make interesting potential backdrops for your pictures. The Rochester Mills Brewery is a very welcoming local pub that makes for great photos with its all brick exterior and great lighting. This brewery is a fun option for bridal or engagement pictures. In the winter each shop in Downtown Rochester is draped in twinkling, colorful lights. This is an easily accessible location with many options and is off the beaten path so you won’t have to worry about fighting crowds or having multiple bridal parties.

Best season:

Spring   Summer

Fall        Winter (all about those holiday lights!)

Yates Cider Mill

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Yates Cider Mill Oakland County

If you crave the smell of cider and donuts and love the crunch of fallen leaves off the trees the Yates Cider Mill will be an autumn wonderland for your photos. Pumpkins, sunflowers, haystacks and harvest fruits are easily incorporated into your photos. Fall weddings are the perfect time for seasonal colors such as orange, yellow, crimson, and berry.

Best season:

Spring     Summer  

Fall       Winter  

Bald Mountain

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Bald Mountain Oakland County

If you and fiance love the outdoors — Bald Mountain is for you. The over 4,000 acre recreation features picnic areas, a modern shooting range, large hunting areas, several fishing lakes, two trout streams, a sandy swimming beach and 15 miles of marked hiking and biking trails. Check for reservations and fees.

Best season:

Spring   Summer  

Fall          Winter  

 Washtenaw County:

University of Michigan Campus / Stadium

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Michigan Stadium Washtenaw County

Hail to the Victors! I mean this choice is simple, if you eat, sleep and breath Michigan Football or just the University itself — the campus or the stadium is a no brainer! Mike Staff Productions has taken countless photo sessions here and all of them are touchdowns! (Ha, like what I did there?) Go Blue! Oh, check to make reservations and gain proper access.

Best season:

Spring   Summer

Fall     Winter

Graffiti Alley / Michigan Theatre

E Liberty St, Ann Arbor

Graffiti Alley Ann Arbor

Talk about cool, edgy and VERY Ann Arbor! Graffiti Alley is full of spectacular artwork. From the walls to the ceiling, everything is covered in graffiti from artists all over the world. Very easy to locate once on East Liberty Street. The alley is affiliated with the Michigan Theater in Downtown Ann Arbor.

Best season:

Spring    Summer

Fall       Winter (but could be snow covered!)

Macomb County:

MacRay Harbor – Lake St.Clair

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Lake St. Clair MacRay Harbor

The banquet center at MacRay Harbor provides a one of a kind lakeside setting. The massive windows allows for a view of the glistening Lake St. Clair and marina from all angles. The lake is the heart of Macomb County and while this nautical setting is picture perfect for a spring or summer wedding, the venue is offering winter wedding packages, too! (How stunning would the frozen waters of Lake St. Clair be as photo backdrop?)

Bonus: Mike Staff Productions if one of their preferred vendors, just sayin’!

Best season:

Spring   Summer

Fall       Winter

George George Memorial Park

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George George Park Macomb County

When it comes to parks in Macomb County, George George Memorial Park is truly a gem. The 30-acre green space features a fountain plaza, complete with playgrounds, walking paths & a picnic pavilion  A rain garden and wetlands are among the features designed into the park and the grounds are kept up immaculately. Countless weddings and engagement shoots have taken place at the park dedicated to James George, a developer and longtime businessman in the community by his sons. If you’re an east-sider, this location is a no brainer.

Best season:

Spring   Summer

Fall       Winter

Stoney Creek Metro Park

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No explanation needed as to why Stoney Creek Metro Park would make a great option for photos of any kind. From beaches, bodies of water, a golf course, a nature preserve it’s 4,461 acres of natural beauty at it’s peak. Since this is a a Metro Park there will be a fee to get in/ Suggested to call ahead to plan.

Best season:

Spring   Summer

Fall        Winter

Heritage Gardens / Park

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Heritage Gardens Macomb County

Breathtaking gardens and a spring fed lake fill the 2 ½ acre property located behind the Shelby Twp. Municipal Offices. It’s truly become a centerpiece of the township. The 10 foot gazebo allows a couple to not only take photos in the gardens but have their ceremony here, too. The plants and flowers are seasonal and and the fountain is typically operational from April to October, so this may not be the best option for a winter wedding.

Reservations: Required

Hourly Fees: $35 hour – Shelby/Utica Residents, $110 hour – Non Residents

Best season:

Spring   Summer

Fall        Winter

Choose Your Own Photographer!

Yes, you read that right!

If you’re looking for “jaw-drop-to-the-floor” wedding photography – Mike Staff Productions can guarantee that because YOU choose which wedding photographer you want to work with. Our experienced wedding photographers know how to make you look great in your wedding photos and we want to show you how.

How it Works:

  • Visit our office, grab a coffee and lounge on our comfy couches (that’s easy!)
  • Watch video profiles of our award winning wedding Photographers in action
  • Get familiar with their personality and style
  • You’re not alone! We’re here to help answer all of your questions

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all wedding Photographer – we get that, that’s why we invite you to be a part of the process. We hope to see you soon! We understand that looking ah-mazing in your wedding photography is non-negotiable

Mike Staff Productions has you covered! Feel free to give us a call (877.689.0777) or drop us a line at greatservice@mikestaff.com.

Mike Staff Relaxing

Mike Staff is the founder and CEO of Mike Staff Productions, one of the most highly acclaimed wedding services companies in the country, providing award-winning Wedding DJs, Wedding Photographers and Wedding Videography for over 20 years. Mike serves as a Nationwide Ambassador for The Knot.com, advising the wedding industry on best practices and insight into the challenges and opportunities.

Posted in Blog Posts, Michigan Wedding Photography, Michigan Wedding Videography, Wedding Photography

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