How Far in Advance Should I Book My Wedding Venue?
Technically, you don’t have a wedding date until you book your venue, so it’s an integral factor in figuring everything else out about your special day. You also need that date to secure other vendors like caterers, bartenders, photographers, videographers and stylists. Plus, you can’t invite people without telling them when the wedding is. Many couples feel enormous pressure to book their wedding venue as soon as they get engaged, but you’re not out of luck if you don’t book your venue an hour after accepting your partner’s proposal.
Continue reading to discover how far in advance to book a wedding venue, plus other considerations that will impact your timeline and bookings.
When to Start Looking for Wedding Venues
The short answer is it’s never too early! Many people have an idea of what their dream wedding will look like very early in life — perhaps even before they have a partner they’re considering marrying. The venerable phrase “location, location, location” has penetrated many people’s consciousness, making the venue choice a paramount decision when planning a wedding.
The venue is the backbone of the wedding ceremony and influences all other factors. Do you want an outside wedding? You’ll need tents in case it rains and maybe even a ground covering to protect everyone’s formal shoes. Are you dreaming of a spring wedding in the botanical gardens, surrounded by beautiful plants? You might have a lot of competition for your desired date.
While many people begin looking to book their wedding venues about 12 months or more before their wedding date, you don’t always have to reserve that far in advance. If you’re considering a larger facility that can accommodate multiple events at one time or somewhere off the beaten path, you may even be able to score a reservation as little as six months in advance.
What to Consider About Your Wedding Venue
These factors will likely influence how to find and when to book your venue.
Different seasons of the year may bring various considerations on when to reserve your venue.
- Spring: Late spring is one of the most popular wedding dates, so venues will be competitive around this time. If you want a spring wedding, be sure to start your planning at least 12 months in advance to ensure you can book your venue and other vendors you need during this busy season. Since this is also the end of the rainy season in most parts of the country, have a contingency plan in place if there’s bad weather.
- Summer: Summer also boasts many weddings, particularly in June. Securing a venue in this season may require some quick thinking, and some sought-after venues may have bookings as far out as two to three years.
- Fall: Early fall boasts beautiful foliage, so wedding dates in September and October may still be competitive. However, you’ll have a much broader set of choices for mid- to late fall weddings, as this begins the wedding “off-season.” Holding a wedding during this time doesn’t guarantee your success with a later venue booking, but you’re likely to have better luck finding and securing your dream venue than in the late spring and summer.
- Winter: Winter weddings can be gorgeous, but the cold weather can deter many couples from hosting their nuptials during these months. As a result, winter proves to be one of the most flexible times to book wedding venues and vendors — with two exceptions. Christmas and New Year’s are competitive dates, so be sure to reserve far in advance if you want to secure a venue around one of these holidays.
Many cities have a few well-known wedding venues that host events year-round. If you have your eye on one of these facilities, you should already know you’re going to have plenty of competition for your dates. You might feel tempted to plan your wedding around the venue’s availability, but things can quickly get complicated if you choose a spot solely based on its popularity.
Every couple is different, and so are their wedding needs and wants. The hottest venue in your area may not be a fit for you, so consider the conditions before you rush to book — especially so you don’t lose your deposit. A laid-back venue, such as a gorgeous golf course or park, may have more of your desired amenities than your city’s most popular spot.
3. Guest List
When booking your venue, also consider the number of guests and their respective age ranges. For large weddings, you want a venue that can accommodate the number of guests you invite. Even if you’re relatively confident that far-flung family and friends will send their regrets and not attend, planning for a smaller number than you invite can come back to bite you in the end.
If you expect you’ll have lots of families with children attending your wedding, and perhaps some of your own, you may prefer a venue that keeps a strict eye on alcohol consumption and has safe areas for kids to play in. Some venues will even offer spaces for child care so parents can enjoy the wedding and kids can have a space just for them.
While most people don’t think about accessibility when planning their dream wedding, it’s an integral factor to make sure all your guests can enjoy your special day along with you. If your grandparents or older adults on your guest list use walkers or canes to get around, assess the venue’s conditions and whether they’re navigable. Similarly, wheelchair users will need unique considerations.
If you find a spot that feels perfect except for mobility challenges like stairs or uneven ground, ask if the venue can make accessibility accommodations for you.
How Far in Advance to Book a Wedding Venue
Generally speaking, the wedding venue is the first thing a couple books when they begin planning a wedding. However, this isn’t always the case. Check out the general booking timeline below for information on when to reserve your venue and vendors, but know that every wedding is different, so what works for one couple may not necessarily be perfect for you.
General Booking Timeline
Twelve to 14 months before your desired wedding date, you’ll want to reserve the following.
- Wedding planner: Some couples take a DIY approach to wedding planning, but a professional wedding planner can be an excellent idea if you’re planning for a lavish wedding with lots of moving parts. Some venues may also offer an event planner dedicated to your special day.
- Venue: Because you can’t book most other services until you have a date, choosing your wedding venue and reserving it for your special day should be one of the first steps you take.
Around 10 months before your big day, once you have your date secured, you’ll want to start booking things like these.
- Photographer: Photographers and videographers can capture every moment and preserve precious memories from your wedding and reception. Be sure to ask for a review of a full wedding album if possible so you can see the photographer’s range — not only a handful of photos they’ve chosen to show.
- Florists: Having fresh flowers at a wedding is a traditional feature many couples put a lot of thought and time into. Booking your florist well in advance is crucial because demand is high, especially during the busy wedding season.
- Caterers: Deciding who will cater and what kind of food you will serve at your wedding is another essential early decision. Choosing your wedding menu can be a breeze if you’ve selected a venue that provides in-house catering.
Eight months before your upcoming nuptials, book or purchase these elements.
- Ceremony music: The music you walk down the aisle to and play during your ceremony can be anything from a full live band to a single instrumentalist to a playlist compiled by a DJ. Whatever you choose, be sure to secure this about eight months before your wedding.
- Reception music: Many couples use different music for their reception and ceremony. From live bands to exciting DJs, there are many options you can choose from.
- Officiant: Whether you’d like a friend to get ordained and serve as your officiant or you’d prefer a professional officiant, such as a judge, justice of the peace or religious clergy member, be sure to secure your favorite officiant with plenty of notice, as they may be in high demand or have other responsibilities.
- Wedding attire: You should order wedding dresses, bridesmaids’ dresses and tuxedos at least eight months before the wedding to allow time to collect and tailor the attire, and provide second fittings to be sure everything fits perfectly.
- Guest accommodations: If you’re inviting people from out of town, it’s customary to reserve a block of rooms at a hotel nearby to ensure everyone has a place to stay.
- Save-the-date cards: Before sending your invitations, you’ll send save-the-date notices so loved ones know to put your wedding on their calendars. Generally, eight months is sufficient time for people to plan, but you should give up to a year’s notice if you’re hosting a destination wedding.
Between five and seven months before your wedding, you’ll want to secure the following elements.
- Stylists: Hair, nails and makeup are a central part of most weddings, and often, the couple will provide these services to everyone in the wedding party. If you’re going to have one or more stylists come to your venue to help you prepare and look your best, don’t wait until the last minute to arrange these services.
- Invitations: Around six months before your wedding, order your official invitations in your preferred style. While you don’t have to send these out until around six to eight weeks before the wedding, getting them in advance can help ease your mind if there are any delays in the printing or shipping process.
- Rentals: If your venue doesn’t provide things like tables, chairs and linens, you’ll want to reserve these with plenty of time in advance. Additionally, you may wish to secure equipment like sound systems and larger decorative elements if necessary.
- Cake: Choosing your cake or cakes might be the best part of your wedding planning! Select your favorite flavors, but consider an alternative dessert if your guests have any severe allergies, such as gluten or nuts.
- Transportation: Reserving transportation to and from your wedding can ensure the day goes smoothly and everyone arrives at the same time. This aspect can be vital if you plan to serve alcohol at your reception.
Three months before the wedding, you need to figure out these factors.
- Favors: Many couples like to give small presents to their guests after the wedding. This gift is often simple, like a box of matches or a small succulent, accompanied by a thank-you note.
- Wedding rings: Choosing and ordering your rings three months before the wedding ensures you get what you want. Since it’s a piece of jewelry you’ll wear for the rest of your life, you want to take time picking the perfect ring.
The Most Popular Wedding Venues
If you need help choosing a wedding venue, check out the three most popular types of wedding venues.
1. House of Worship
If you want a traditional wedding within you and your loved one’s religious traditions, you can choose a house of worship as your wedding venue. Generally, you’ll host the wedding ceremony within the house of worship and have a reception at a separate location, such as a park or hotel, but some offer reception space you can rent. Remember, some religious traditions’ customs and rules might dictate some elements of your wedding, such as food, dress and music.
If your house of worship is in high demand, don’t forget to book it at least 12 to 14 months in advance.
A hotel wedding is standard if you are traveling to a destination, but they also often host receptions for weddings held at separate locations. Pretty much anything goes at a hotel wedding, and you can usually decorate the room as you like. Sometimes the hotel will have sound equipment and tables and chairs in-house, so you won’t have to rent them from an outside company.
One thing to remember about hotel weddings is that your wedding party probably will not be the only guests there, so crashers and other disturbances may be an issue to contend with.
3. Country Club and Golf Course
With a country club or golf course wedding, you can get the best of both worlds. Country clubs and golf courses offer various indoor and outdoor options to accommodate different wedding sizes. You can select a more traditional indoor wedding, or try something different like exchanging your vows on the golf course. The benefits of a golf course wedding are numerous, and you can go as classy or laid-back as you want.
Since these venues are in such high demand, you want to try to book as far in advance as possible.
Choose Colonial Golf and Tennis Club for Your Dream Wedding Venue
As one of central Pennsylvania’s best wedding venues, Colonial Golf and Tennis Club has the perfect solution for your wedding. We offer indoor and outdoor ceremonies, with accommodations for gatherings with up to 300 guests. With gorgeous grounds and rooms purpose-built to host large get-togethers, Colonial Golf and Tennis Club will be sure to have all the amenities you need to make your special day memorable.
In addition to weddings, we also host rehearsal dinners and bridal showers — and there’s no better spot for a bachelor party than on a golf course! Look at our wedding packages to see what we have to offer, or schedule a personal tour of our grounds to see the beauty for yourself today.