Grand Rapids Wedding Venue and Beyond | How to Make the Best Choice For You!


January 15, 2020


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Hi, I'm Kellie.


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Tips & Ideas

There are so many wedding venues in Grand Rapids and the surrounding areas – along the Lake Michigan lakeshore, Northern Michigan and just about everywhere in between. Michigan is such a beautiful state in every season, there surely is a perfect venue for you, but how do you know which one?

Let’s dive in a little to some of my favorites and what makes a venue high on my list. Maybe this will help you narrow some down too!


First of all, you have to decide what season you want your wedding in. If you want a wedding with an open air feel, on the beach or somewhere outdoors, summer or early fall are usually the best in this beautiful state for a wedding. Some other seasons work ok for this (and can totally pay off with stunningly gorgeous photos), but usually require a back-up plan. If you are a bride and groom who love adventure and aren’t afraid to go with the flow, then maybe trying something off season would be a good fit 🙂

Felt Mansion wedding ceremony

Doug & Julia‘s summer wedding at the Felt Mansion in Holland, Michigan.

Felt Mansion wedding ceremony
Fall wedding ceremony at The Centennial Barn

Andy & Kristi’s early fall wedding at The Centennial Barn in Wayland, Michigan.

Fall wedding ceremony at The Centennial Barn


What do you want your celebration to look like and how do you want it to feel? Do you love the soft wispy lines that the beach grass provides with waves crashing in the background or do you prefer the more modern textures of concrete and wood in an industrial building? Maybe the excitement from the hustle and bustle of the city in the background while you are promising forever to your favorite person or something super simple with just you and him while we snap a few photos somewhere private… Most of all, just make it reflect the two of you. This is your first day of forever!

A private beach ceremony on the shores of Lake Michigan in Holland

A soft and romantic beach wedding on the shores of Lake Michigan in Holland, Michigan.

A private beach ceremony on the shores of Lake Michigan in Holland
A downtown Grand Rapids wedding at CityFlats Hotel

Brennan & Kelly‘s downtown Grand Rapids wedding at CityFlats Hotel.

A downtown Grand Rapids wedding at CityFlats Hotel


This subject is often overlooked. Good light! If I were looking for a wedding venue for myself, this would be super high on my list! To get these soft and dreamy photos that we all love so much….I needs lots of window light! Light would probably trump just about anything else. Please just trust me and ask your photographer about this one. Natural light is more important to some photographers than others based on their approach to photography and editing style, but overall….it’s pretty important 😉

All the places I need light:

  • In the getting ready space for the bride/groom
  • For taking detail shots of dress/rings/invitations/etc
  • Ceremony location
  • All portrait locations
  • First look location
  • Reception space (possibly will use artificial light here)
  • Dancing (most likely we will bring artificial light for these)

I think you get the idea haha!

Wedding at CityFlats Hotel in Grand Rapids

Getting ready location – see all those windows (more windows to left of camera not pictured) Side note: this was not the space that the girls were supposed to get ready in. I moved them…for the light 😉

Grand Rapids flower girls

These flower girls did not get ready outside….we went there for the pretty light!

Michigan State University Wedding

Most hotels usually make great places for photos – because they quite often have large windows. When all the bridesmaids are getting ready there, I suggest getting a suite for more space.

Liz & Marty‘s Michigan State University wedding.

Michigan State University Wedding
Felt Mansion tented wedding reception

The photo above is from a tented wedding at The Felt Mansion. There was SO much light because it was pouring in on all sides. Love tents!

centennial barn wedding

Gorgeous, Kristi, getting ready at The Centennial Barn. Two sets of windows letting in all that gorgeous light!


Something else that I really want to hit home is….what do you want your portraits to look like? Do you really love the buildings of the big city faded into the background or do you prefer big, tall pine trees reaching to the clouds? Or maybe long dirt roads lined with soft white flowers or even fields of hay are your thing. Since we can only do this once (Well, we can always do a bridal session later if you want!!! Shoot me a message even if I wasn’t your wedding photographer….we should really do this!!) then how do you want them to look on your walls? I love taking at least a few portraits of the two of you where a lot of the landscape shows (either buildings, trees, hills, etc) because then it can double as a large piece of art on your wall….featuring a lovely bride and groom of course!

All of that to say, your wedding day goes by in a flash, so making the most of your time is such an important key piece….so finding your wedding venue in Grand Rapids or a surrounding area that is close to where you’d like your portraits taken is such a great tip. You are welcome! 😉

(Better yet – have your wedding at a venue that is beautiful to start so you can take photos right there!)

Provin Trails wedding photos

Paul & Isabel‘s bridal session at Provin Trails in Grand Rapids.

Hoffmaster State Park beach wedding in Muskegon, MI

Brian & Melissa‘s beach wedding at Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon, Michigan.

Michigan State University wedding

Liz & Marty’s Michigan State University wedding.

Frederik Meijer Garden wedding

Frederik Meijer Garden wedding.

The Cheney Place wedding in Grand Rapids

The Cheney Place wedding in downtown Grand Rapids, MI.

The Holiday Inn Spring Lake wedding

Marko & Rachel‘s beach wedding at The Holiday Inn in Spring Lake, MI.


There are a lot of other things to consider as well when looking for your dream wedding venue in Grand Rapids. Does the venue allow you to bring in other vendors of your choosing or do you have to use theirs? Do they offer free parking or have parking nearby? What does their space look like when they are flipping the room from ceremony to reception?

If I’m your wedding photographer, I’m happy to point you in the direction of some of my favorites and help you figure these things out too. When your day goes smoother, my day does too! And having a wedding planner is ALWAYS a great idea!

I hope this info helps!! Happy wedding planning, friends

xoxo – Kellie

(If you are on the hunt for a Grand Rapids wedding venue and would love to talk to me about some ideas, just shoot me a message here!)

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I'm Kellie and I'm so happy you're here. This blog a journal about my life, travels and favorite images. Stay a while and say hello!

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