Tips for hosting a Picture-Perfect American Visionary Art Museum wedding in Baltimore

Location, location, location! This adage applies to more than real estate. In fact, choosing a venue for your wedding is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during the planning process. As soon as your guests walk into your wedding venue, they’ll experience the specific style and visual vibe of your wedding.

That’s why we’re writing these blog posts for you! In this series, trusted experts will share tips for hosting a picture-perfect wedding at unique venues around the Washington, DC area. From monumental properties like Hotel Monaco in Washington, DC to countryside destinations like River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia, we’ve got you covered.

In this second post, we’ll share tips for couples who are hosting their wedding at The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. There are also plenty of photos included to help you visualize your own wedding!

Tip One: It's all about lighting!

Lighting makes a magical impact at weddings. The lighting you choose will be affected by your ceremony and reception locations. And since there are so many lovely locations around AVAM, we suggest keeping lighting in mind while touring the venue and deciding on where to hold each segment of your event. From a ceremony on the staircase to the first floor visionary village, to getting married in the sculpture garden or barn – the possibilities are really endless at the American Visionary Art Museum.

Here are some tips from our experience shooting in the different locations at the museum:

  • The Sculpture Garden: Depending on the time of day, you can have really lovely light falling on your wedding ceremony. Plus, the wildflowers surrounding you and your guests are a colorful juxtaposition to the urban setting. American Visionary Art Museum wedding American Visionary Art Museum wedding American Visionary Art Museum wedding
  • The Sculpture Barn: It's really important to create customized lighting for this unique location. Also carefully curate your guest list as this is a smaller space. It's wonderful for intimate events, but can be quite dark – even with the overhead lighting provided. So we recommend additional lighting, whether it's from a lighting design company or from your photographer. We've photographed both ceremonies and receptions in this space, and it offers you the opportunity to have fun with creative, supplemental lighting. Love Life ImagesLove Life Images Love Life ImagesLove Life Images
  • First floor visionary village of the JRVC building: When it comes to wedding venues in Baltimore, this one stands out as truly different! After all, how many other Washington, D.C. area wedding venues have a giant, fluffy pink poodle? This interesting spot offers a fun backdrop for your ceremony, but since it's inside the museum, it's a dark location. So again, you will need to add more light. It can be a somewhat tricky spot to light, but can be beautifully done, so make sure your lighting design team and photographer have extra lights for this space.AVAM wedding ceremony Wedding photography in the DC are by photographers from Love Life ImagesAmerican Visionary Art Museum Wedding_0012American Visionary Art Museum Wedding_0014
  • Third floor banquet room of the JRVC building: This is probably our favorite spot for receptions to be held at AVAM. This room is a perfect blank canvas that allows you to be creative with dressing up the room with your wedding day décor. It has a very modern feel to it, and because it's so open, it's an easy area to light. Another bonus is the white ceiling, which is great for your photographer to bounce light off of to create pretty pictures. We love when couples add lighted lanterns to the space as it adds an intimate feeling to the location.AVAM wedding reception AVAM wedding reception AVAM wedding reception

"Since there isn’t any division in the AVAM space (cocktail hour/dinner/dancing is all in one) we like adding specialty lighting to highlight different areas of the room and their uses. One way we do this is by focusing on the ceiling above the dance floor, that way, all of the guests know where they’ll be kicking their shoes off for the rest of the evening. From swaging cafe lights to groupings of Edison Bulbs, the options are endless! Event Dynamics is always great to work with here! They’re always open to new ideas."- Ashley Amtmann, Lemon and Lime Event Design

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Tip Two: Tell us what you want!

AVAM is such a unique venue, so you should expect more fun and quirky photos than elegant portraits. You can still get sophisticated shots in the space, but with so many stunning works of art, you should take advantage of the space and be up for some creative photos. That said, give your photographer a little direction about what you're expecting from your photos. There are so many diverse photo opportunities at the AVAM, and each photographer probably has a list of go-to places for portraits, so tell us if there's a specific spot where you'd like to pose. There are many opportunities for photos photos here, and many different lighting options, so don't be afraid to speak up. We want you to get the photos of your dreams! American Visionary Art Museum Wedding_0020 AVAM wedding portrait

For example, with couple Katie and Matt, we set aside time to explore the natural light in one area of the museum. That enabled us to take some customized, creative portraits. But this is not our typical go-to, and isn't something we would do without enough extra time built into the schedule. But when enough time is allotted in the schedule, the results are amazing! That's why we should talk through ideas in advance and take advantage of AVAM's locations and lighting.AVAM wedding AVAM wedding

Tip Three: Explore the grounds.

Do you want photos that are truly different, and always unique to your personalities? Great – so do we! That's why we love that AVAM offers so many great spots for fun portraits. Be sure to build time into your wedding day schedule to explore all the museum has to offer. Even in its urban setting, the museum's outdoor spaces offer perfect places to capture portraits in flattering, amazing light. While we are always asked for a photo with the mirrored-egg sculpture, here are some of our favorite spots to do portraits and group photos:

1. The mirrored wall: This is such a fun backdrop for photos and really captures the spirit of AVAM. The light falls nicely in this spot in the afternoon and gives you an eclectic, modern background for portraits.

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2. The amphitheater (JRVC Plaza): The light in this rounded space softly falls around the entire area, creating a romantic mood for photos.

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Wedding photography in the DC are by photographers from Love Life Images 3. The ivy-covered wall: The light filters into this area in beautiful rays on a sunny evening, during the timeframe we call the "golden hour," so take advantage of this! The grey door on this brick wall is a great backdrop for portraits, and the ivy-covered portions add a natural element to this urban environment.

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4. The "Love" sign: Save this iconic shot for during the reception, once it gets dark. It's a much better photo with the neon sign lit up!

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One last insider tip: The staircase in the main building is a highly sought-after photo spot, but unfortunately it's often unavailable due to art installations and ongoing exhibits. It is occasionally open after-hours depending on your wedding day timeline, but luckily there are many other amazing spots for portraits!

Those are just a few tips for getting wonderful photos at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. Stay tuned for our next venue feature and more beautiful photographs to help you plan the wedding of your dreams!