While shooting at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort this last weekend, it dawned on me, how blessed I am as a photographer/videographer to be shooting weddings in this beautiful city of St Petersburg. From the Mahaffey Theatre to Sunken Gardens, St Petersburg is one of the better cities in the country to shoot a wedding in. Downtown Tampa is great as well and has it’s advantages, but you cannot beat the culture, the atmosphere of St Petersburg that has been shaped by its history, over-coming tough periods and now re-vived to a new life. Let me take you on a little tour of some St Petersburg’s Historic Wedding Venues through the eyes of a St Petersburg Photographer.
This was my third wedding at The Vinoy in the last 6 months. If there is one word to describe The Vinoy is “Elegant”, with its salmon colored Mediterranean Architecture. Like Nova 535, it was built in the 1920’s and renovated in 1992, and has become a popular wedding venue for St Petersburg Brides. We like to use the iron railed stairway, makes for some great glamorous elegant shots. The mezzanine level makes for great shots with the chandeliers and the curved ceiling in the background. Another nice feature about The Vinoy is on the mezzanine level the window sill is low, so makes it easy to sit a bride in the window for some fashion oriented shots. The Tea Garden makes for a great outdoor ceremony site, with the mixture of the soft pink building and the green grass provides some great contrast which will make your wedding colors “pop”.
If the Vinoy is not your style perhaps Nova 535 is, a trendy St Petersburg wedding venue, without being too over the top. It provides a nice intimate, casual, rustic atmosphere for a wedding. The use of uplighting against the brick walls and wooden beams are beautiful and definitely give this place a unique feel. We like to use low light lenses, so that we capture the ambient lighting of Nova. The wedding ceremony can be inside or outside in the Bamboo Courtyard, which provides a nice tropical atmosphere. The only thing that can be challenging for photography and video is the bright sun mixed with shadows at certain times of the day, so the lighting can be very uneven. If having a wedding at Nova 535 in the courtyard, ideally it is best to have the ceremony start at about 90 minutes before sunset.
If garden scenery is more your style, try Sunken Gardens, originally opened in 1935, and like The Vinoy & Nova 535, had a period where it was not taken care of, however was renovated and now owned by the city of St Petersburg. The Gardens consist of a variety with meandering walkways that wind through the shady oasis that surrounds you with thousands of lush tropical displays, hundreds of vibrant flowering plants, and cascading waterfalls. On a recent wedding, we were comenting how one minute we took a shot and looked like we were in New Mexico and the next minute it was like we were in Puerto Rico.
The Mirror Lake Lyceum, another historical wedding venue in St Petersburg, was a popular church in the 1920s with it’s structural grandeur and mediterranean architecture.
If you are not into all the historical atmosphere of these venues, there is the more contemporary Mahaeffey Theatre with a three-story showcase glass atrium which faces the Bay. Across the street is Bayfront Park, which provides for some great water shots with waterfalls and the Bay Walk. Columns provide for some great depth of field shots. Near the Mahaffey Theatre is the Bayfront Hilton, which has a great lounge room which overlooks the Bay and Al Lange Stadium, makes for some great getting ready shots.
Another great venue is the Museum of Fine Arts which sits in the heart of downtown St Petersburg. Its european architecture and art adds culture to your wedding photography.
If you are getting married in St Petersburg, and have questions about a venue and how it relates to photography, feel free to contact us.