When I was planning my wedding a little less than two years ago, I remember being 10+ pages deep in the Google search & honestly a little surprised that there were so many options for venues in Iowa! Now as a wedding photographer in Des Moines, I want to save couples from feeling that decision overload & help you sort out all the mysteries of wedding planning! I’ll be sharing some of my favorite Iowa venues that are within an hour or two from Des Moines or Iowa City. Trust me when I say you WILL find the place that speaks to you; just make sure you go on all the tours, ask lots of questions, & try to picture what your wedding day would look like at each location! Stay until the end of this post for more tips on how to choose the right venue.
Let’s start with some tried & true historic venues. You can’t go wrong with the charm these old buildings have – they’ll always create that classy ambiance! Most of the time, you don’t even have to worry about having much decor when the venues themselves have so much character & inspiring architecture to look at. The following are all in Downtown Des Moines aside from Tamory Hall, which is located in the charming Dutch town of Pella (about 1 hour East of DSM).
Next up is a fairly new category to the industry: modern farmhouse. Though it sounds contradictory, this type of venue is for you if you want that idyllic farmhouse vibe with a bright interior and chic accents! I love the way these venues have taken the traditional barn concept and elevated it with so many thoughtful design touches. Most of these are located outside of the metros because they require more land to accommodate a larger party, but don’t let that deter you! Keep reading for my take on why having more space is so important when looking for your dream wedding venue.
The last set of venues lean into the industrial + urban aesthetic. Each of these are uniquely their own but with common elements like exposed brick, concrete floors, and cozy string lights. The convenience of these venues is a huge advantage because they’re in central settings, so you’ve got proximity to hotels, bars, + anything else you could need! This also means it’s easier to hop around if your ceremony is town but not at the same venue as the reception, or if you want to go to a alternative location for portraits.
You should consider all of the factors below before you book your Iowa wedding venue:
Accessibility. Is there parking close by? Is it confusing to find the location of the venue? If there isn’t lodging at the venue, where can guests stay?
Space. Are there getting ready rooms? How many bathrooms? What about lounge seating, the bar area, the size of the dance floor? Where would food & desserts go?
Inclusions. What decor do they offer? Is there on-site catering? Rehearsal dinner rental? Set up & tear down? When does the party have to end?
Backups. If it’s raining, where will you have the ceremony / reception site? Are there still good photo spots with plenty of lighting indoors?
Reviews. What are other couples saying about the venue team & their experience?
I hope this guide could help you narrow down your list of Iowa wedding venues. Planning a celebration this big isn’t easy, but so worth it! Don’t forget that this next year is a popular one for weddings in Iowa, so lock down your date for 2023 or start inquiring with vendors for 2024.
Once you’ve set your date & picked a venue, reach out to me through my contact form to schedule a call or coffee date! I would love to talk about your wedding photography goals & how I’d be able to serve you on your big day. Chat soon!! – Ilderina
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