A Season to Celebrate: Choosing Your Wedding Reception Venue

You’ve popped the all-important question. Now, there’s a new ring on her left hand.  Clearly, celebrations are in order! If you’re like most engaged couples, you’re making your wedding checklist and checking it twice! A biggie is your wedding reception venue, and securing a location is often a top priority for most couples.

  1.  Availability:  Is there an opening on the date you are choosing?  Or are you choosing your wedding date based on your venue’s availability?
  2. Season:  You will likely choose your venue based on the time of year you are marrying.  There is no need to look at outdoor-only venues if you are having a winter wedding.  
  3. Guest accommodations: The number of guests invited will determine the size needed for your venue and reception space. 
  4. Location:  If you have a wedding vibe or aesthetic you are going for, the place you choose matters.  Love sailing on your weekends? Then consider a lake or beachfront location.  Family traveling from out of town? Selecting a more convenient location for traveling guests might be most important to you.
  5. Cost:  Because money. Let’s be honest here…weddings come with a lot of expenses!

Having attended many weddings in our years of working in wedding photography, we get to see behind the scenes, or behind the lens, if you will, what our couples have most enjoyed at their reception venue and what we appreciate most as photographers.  We’ve put together some of our favorite seasonal venues in Erie, PA, and surrounding areas that we hope to help you narrow down your process in choosing a wedding venue.  We know that all these wedding decisions can be stressful. We, at Matt Mead Photography, are all about making things as restful and fun as wedding planning can be!

April Showers Bring May Flowers: Spring Venues

Hands down, one of our favorite reception venues for Spring weddings is the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel.  Spring in Erie, PA, is memorable for its inclement weather, but the Sheraton Bayfront has you covered with its windowed sky bridge and extensive city views.  With full access to outdoor terraces at the adjacent Erie Convention Center, you won’t be disappointed with Bayfront wedding portraits that include vistas of downtown Erie, Presque Isle Bay, and Erie’s towering Bicentennial Tower.  

Bridal party poses on walkway of Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel

The Erie Art Museum is a classic, artistic, and unique reception venue less than a mile away.  We love Erie Art Museum for its photographic versatility, indoors and outdoors, and its artists and streamlined galleries.  The history of this downtown Erie wedding venue will only enhance your wedding photographic experience with culture and creativity!

Couple hugs in gallery of Erie Art Museum during their wedding reception

Couple embracing in the galllery of Erie Art Museum before their wedding

Hello Sunshine: Summer Venues

Let’s take this party outdoors! And you can best believe that if it’s been a snowy and rainy spring season, your guests will be ready for some grass under their feet and sunshine in their hair. Here’s the cream of the summer crop for you!

First up is the gem of a location found in the lush and green Whispering Trees Manor of Edinboro, PA.  If the country, a rustic outdoor environment, and abundant greenery got together and had a baby, it would look like Whispering Trees Manor.   With a creek, meadow, and covered bridge, this venue offers views in every direction.  The open wood pavilion is often home to receptions with room for both your large dinner gathering and room to shake your groove thing.  Not to mention, there are lots of wide-open spaces for your wedding photos at Whispering Trees Manor. We dig this venue big time!

Wedding ceremony set up at Whispering Trees Manor

We’re also great fans of Madeline’s Dining & Events in Cranesville, PA, outside Erie. Madeline’s might be your place if you’re looking for greenery and scenic views that stretch well past the reception venue.  Madeline’s has ample indoor and outdoor spaces, perfect for your outside “I do’s” with an indoor reception. If traditional and scenic are what you are looking for, you’ll be happy with photos of the lush and mature greenery the grounds at Madeline’s provides.

Wedding ceremony at Madeline's Dining and Events

Pumpkin, Spice, and Everything Nice: Fall Venues

Fall doesn’t fail to disappoint, and neither will these two wedding venue choices that we think pair well with crisp autumn leaves, full-bodied glasses of a good red, and nature’s display of color.  

If some handcrafted wine, mature landscaping, and a historically renovated barn hold your interest, check out the banquet facility at Quincy Cellars in Ripley, NY. A working vineyard with some fab wine, Quincy Cellars is charm, tradition, and history rolled into one.  Guests can stroll around the lake while we photograph and document your love with vineyard kisses and under the century-year-old trees.  This venue is perfect for your elegant and traditional fall wedding! Plus, photographs at Quincy Cellars do not disappoint.

Bride and groom kiss in the vineyard at Quincy Cellars

Port Farms, this timeless and charming venue in Waterford, PA, started as a potato farm.  Now, over 100 years later and a popular event venue, Port Farms proudly displays its modern amenities but with a country flair.  This venue has limited wedding venue reservations (May-October) to maximize your experience when the countryside comes to life in full bloom.  We love Port Farms for its scenery and country charm.  The natural lighting doesn’t hurt either and we think your photos will look amazing at this location!   

Bride and groom snuggle in the sunflower field at Port Farms

It’s a Nice Day for a White Wedding: Winter Venues

The Historic Watson Curtze Mansion is an operating museum and a public event center. A beautiful wedding venue with “exquisite examples of mosaic tile, stained glass, and exotic wood carving throughout its three floors of public space,”  the mansion is an excellent choice for smaller weddings. The lushly landscaped grounds can accommodate tents for up to 150 dinner guests. Elegance abounds at this venue, with very little trimmings needed for decorating as the building already contains historic art and furnishings.  Every photo feels atmospheric, elegant, and classic at the Historic Watson Curtze Mansion in Erie, PA. 

Couple kissing outside the Watson Curtze mansion on their wedding day

If you need a full-service wedding venue, the Ambassador Hotel & Conference Center might fulfill all your needs.  With room for the ceremony, large reception, and even hotel rooms for your out-of-town guests, the Ambassador Hotel checks all the boxes.  This is a venue specializing in and accommodating weddings of all numbers. We specifically love the Atrium Room for its clear ceiling and natural lighting!  

First dance at wedding reception held in the Garden Atrium room at the Ambassador Hotel & Conference Center

Honorable Mention Goes to…

In the Winter Venue Category, an Honorable mention goes to Perry Square in Downtown Erie.  This is an excellent location for some wintery wonderland wedding photos with twinkle lights and Christmas trees among the park’s historic structures. It is also near many Downtown Erie venues

Bride and groom hugging in Perry Square on their wedding day in winter

Your First Steps Together

But do you know what’s going to stand the test of time? I mean, besides you two as a couple?  Preserving your memories and experiences through photography – in years to come, you may not remember all the details of your wedding. But, you will remember how you felt. And that’s where we come in.  We’re here to help fill in the memory gaps that happen over time and remind you, through photos, the how’s and why’s of your love story.  A picture really does tell 1000 words. And as your wedding photographer, here’s what we dream of at your wedding reception venue:


Natural light will always get our hearts pumping! Our goal is to photograph you at your best in a way that shows your story organically. When it comes to editing, you should know we think you are perfect just as you are. So, we reserve our editing for stylistic choices, and do not alter you or your surroundings.

Architecture Elements and Nature  

We’re looking for interesting architectural details to embellish your photos.  You’re already going to look great.  Let’s get that background to match!


Choose a venue that best embodies you as a couple.  You are not a cookie-cutter, so choose a venue as unique as you.

Feels like home

What reception venue makes you feel most comfortable and at home?  This is where you will be your most relaxed and restful.  And a calm and relaxing wedding day face is the best to capture because you are literally living in the moment and basking in your love together.   This venue isn’t just a location; it is the first step in your new life together as a married couple.  

We would love to talk and learn more about you two.  When you’re ready, we’re here. Contact us to learn more about how we create images that last a lifetime.


Looking for more wedding planning tips? Here are some of the advice we give to all our couples. Hope it helps you. Check them out!

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At Matt Mead Photography we believe that building relationships with our clients is the best way to serve them. That's why we value meeting all of our couples face-to-face by video call. We look forward to meeting you soon!


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matt mead photography 1821 oxford st. erie, pa 16505  (814)315-3353