Often at a bridal show I'll be asked by the bride-to-be "have you worked at (name of banquet hall) before?" Well sometimes yes, and sometimes no, I haven't.
Does it matter if the photographer you're interested in has a history of shooting weddings at the location you've chosen for your reception and possibly the ceremony? For simplicity we’ll refer to both as "the venue".
Let's look at the pluses and the so-what’s.
Familiarity with a venue is good since the photographer knows the layout of the banquet room and what it takes to light it, what the church, synagogue or chapel is like - big or small, dark or bright, and where the nicest spots on the grounds are for outside group and portrait photography. This familiarity can enable your photographer to work more efficiently to get the job done.
However, a good, a really good, experienced photographer will be able to quickly adjust for the lighting of the venue, the distances to work from - especially during the ceremony - and find nice locations inside or outside for your special portraits and group shots. Thanks to the Internet, most venues have websites with photos that the photographer can use to familiarize himself with the venue. Personally, I do this every time I'm going to a new venue.
Images on the venue's website are usually given by a photographer, who has shot multiple weddings there, to the venue management with the goal of being listed as a "preferred professional". This is an accepted practice in the business and has benefits for the venue and photographer. Many times, the photos are "room shots", photos of the food or set up tables. Only you can judge how important photos like this are to you.
Does it mean that a "preferred" photographer will give you better results than a photographer there for the first time? No, it doesn't.
So to answer the question - No, I don't believe a photographer's prior history at a specific venue should be a deal maker or deal breaker for you. On the list of considerations, keep it way down. Instead, rely on other factors.
What is important, what matters most, is the first impression you have when you meet the photographer. In just a few minutes, and I mean two or three, you should be able to have a "feeling" of his or her personality, if it meshes with yours. Once past this point, and as you talk about photography, you'll know whether this photographer's sense of photographic style is what you're after. Your questions should be answered with explanations of how what you want can be accomplished.
You've probably already made a short list of "photographers of interest" (that sounds ominous, ha-ha).
Now it's time to let your intuition guide you to the photographer with the quality of work, the style you want and the personality you'll be comfortable with be your wedding day photographer.
Next topic will be: Pinterest – It’s value to you for wedding photography.