Good wedding photographers often seem like they can make magic and produce beautiful wedding photos no matter what, but even the best photographers are often at the mercy of the available lighting. The sunlight or indoor lighting is often not that great, and photographers have to contort themselves to create conditions that are decent enough to produce a good photo. Remember, the photographer may have a few extra lights for still photos taken before the ceremony, but for those action shots taken during the ceremony and reception, the photographer is at the mercy of what's portable.
Now that you know that the light in the room or outdoor wedding area is so important, take that into consideration when choosing your wedding venue. If there is even a small area where the lighting is good, your pictures will turn out much better than you thought possible.
Outdoor ceremonies are nice, but the way the seats and altar are oriented can really make a difference. Try to choose a place where the guests will be facing away from the sun. You'd think that most people would look for that anyway -- who wants to have all their guests squinting -- but many choose to have the ceremony facing a certain way because there's a river or view that looks like a lovely backdrop.
It may be lovely in real life, but in photos, it looks terrible. If the sun happens to be directly overhead, or worse, in front of the ceremony (so that people looking at the ceremony have to squint), the photos will look too bright, people will have weird expressions, and the light will be really harsh.
Try to choose someplace where the sun is off to the side; this provides a nicer, more diffuse setting with less squinting.
Shade is always nice on a hot day. It can also play havoc with your photos because now the photographer has to account for drastically different lighting depending on where people are standing. There's nothing wrong with having shade in the area, and if the entire outdoor area is shaded, that's fine. But try not to choose an area filled with dappled light or just enough shade to have half of the ceremony in sunlight. It's an unbalanced situation.
Harsh Indoor Lighting
If you go with an indoor location, have whoever is designing the layout add some non-harsh lights. Many community centers, for example, will allow you to rent out a room for a wedding if you're looking for an inexpensive location. But that means you get the fluorescent lighting and occasional direct sunlight beams through windows. See if whoever is designing the wedding can arrange to have camera-friendly lighting added so the fluorescents can stay off -- and get curtains on those windows with the direct light.
If you're not sure about the lighting, you can talk to some wedding photographers and see if they have suggestions for locations, or if they know if the places you're thinking of will be OK. Sometimes all it takes is a tweak or two to make everything work out well. For more information, contact companies like DelPrincipe Photography.