Choosing the right wedding venue can make or break your wedding. As a photographer, I have had the chance to shoot in many wedding venues across the St. Louis area. What I have learned about venues is that a lot goes into making a great wedding venue. But the one thing that stands out as most important for me is a great space for the wedding and the reception. Choosing the right space is key for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that your guests and everyone else involved with your wedding are going to be a lot more comfortable in a space that is the appropriate size for the number of people that are invited.

One of the big mistakes I see is that couples get spaces that are big, but not big enough for the number of guests they have. To add to the problem a lot of venues will claim that they can handle hundreds of guests when they really can’t handle that number.

I was at a wedding reception once and within 30 minutes of the guests arriving everyone was running around looking for the thermostat, because it was getting hot, humid, and nasty in there. By the end of the night all the groomsmen had ditched their jackets and the people on the dance floor were sweaty and stinky. The fact is, while the venue did technically fit all those people in there, they weren’t keeping them comfortable.

Maybe it’s just me, but if your wedding reception smells like a locker room after a football game, the venue was probably a tad too cramped for the number of people you invited.

So, what kind of space will keep you and your guests comfortable anyway? The answer is complicated, but a key factor is ceiling height. People give off heat, we breath out heat and our bodies radiate heat. All that hot air rises up, unless it can’t because the ceilings are too low. This is why the best event spaces have higher ceilings, its not just because it looks cool, it has a functional purpose as well.

Of course this doesn’t mean that you can’t rent a venue with lower ceilings, just make sure you consider whether the amount of people you have invited are going to be comfortable in the space for the several hours they will spend with you there.

Whatever you do remember that you are the hosts and its your job to make sure that your wedding guests are comfortable and entertained by the night’s festivities.

And it’s not just your guests that will enjoy a great wedding venue, your photographers will thank you too. More often than not, a nice wedding venue will translate into nicer photographs. You could almost think of your wedding venue as a way to upgrade your photography. I know I get excited when I see that a couple is renting one of the top wedding venues in the area.

With all that said, what are some of the top places in St. Louis to have a wedding? Here is a list of some of my favorite venues in St. Louis.

Stifel Theatre

Stifel Theatre Website

If you’re looking for a classically ornate venue that harkens back to an era of glitz and glamour this is the location in St. Louis. The architectural style is like nothing you’ll see in newer buildings and the many intricate details provide a great backdrop for the pictures of your wedding day.

Missouri Athletic Club

Missouri Athletic Club Website

Another classically ornate building built over 100 years ago, the Missouri Athletic Club is easily one of the top venues in St. Louis for weddings. Not only do they also provide lodging and catering, but their pastry chef can create the lucky bride and groom a custom 5 tier wedding cake. If you’re looking for a place that ticks all the boxes for food, location, and service, this one does it with top marks for each.

Wild Carrot

Wild Carrot Website

Yet another historical location in St. Louis, the Wild Carrot takes a different approach to its history with exposed brick and other authentic details from its 100+ years. Originally an old theatre built in 1915, it has been renovated into one of the top event spaces in St. Louis. I personally enjoy shooting in the older buildings with old exposed brick because the pictures have a warm inviting quality to them, plus it’s a very fashionable look these days.

The Caramel Room

The Caramel Room Website

Interested in a more modern urban space for your wedding? The Caramel Room is hard to beat. Aside from the modern bar and event space, the Caramel Room also features skyline views of downtown St. Louis visible from their rooftop terrace. Some of the top wedding photos I have seen were shot here. And they aren’t called the Caramel Room for nothing, they’ve got chocolate, lots of it, so if you’re a chocolate lover you just found the wedding venue of your dreams!

The Marriott St. Louis Grand

Marriott St. Louis Grand Website

If you need a place for you and your family to stay, The Marriott St. Louis Grand also has some great spaces for your wedding ceremony and reception. While it’s not quite the Stifel Theatre in architectural detailing, they have some excellent ballrooms that can host your wedding with aplomb. Located downtown on what some might say is the premier street in St. Louis, Washington Ave., there’s plenty of food and entertainment within walking distance if you and your guests are staying in town for a couple of days.

Barnett on Washington

Barnett On Washington Website

Another great spot further west on Washington Ave, which actually becomes Washington Blvd, is Barnett on Washington. This fantastic old building has an old-world rustic charm to it that kind of reminds me of a Spanish Villa. There are plenty of arches, columns, elegant stairways, and other visual elements that make for great photo opportunities. If you’re looking for a place that is uniquely elegant, this should be on your shortlist of options.

Silver Oaks Chateau

Silver Oaks Chateau Website

It would be remiss not to include Silver Oaks Chateau on this list. Simply put, they seem to have it all going on here, old world charm, modern conveniences, and a huge outdoor property, making this one a great option in good or bad weather. Photo opportunities abound both indoors and out. The modern but rustic aesthetic is sure to appeal to lots of couples and their photographers.

Hopefully this post helps you get off to a great start in your wedding venue search!