Timing is everything when it comes to wedding planning, and you likely wonder how far in advance to book a wedding venue to minimize risks.
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer – the recommended timeline varies from three to 18 months in advance.
The wedding venue booking timeline largely depends on other factors, such as your wedding season, invitation timeline, and budget. You should also pick the wedding style and finalize the guest count before booking.
If you start searching for a venue late, you may not find a worthy wedding spot. However, an early booking may also cause problems.
In other words, there’s no universal answer to when to book a wedding venue. However, considering certain points will help you define the right booking time for your event.
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Consider The Invitations Timeline
Invitations timeline isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when choosing your wedding venue, but considering it is vital.
Traditionally, save-the-dates only mention the state and town, while formal invitations state a specific wedding venue.
Therefore, you should already decide on the general location of your wedding six to 12 months before the big day, when save-the-dates go out, but you can choose a specific venue about four months before the big day.
Four to three months before the wedding is the right time to send wedding invitations. It allows guests to clear their calendars and provides the couple with flexibility in planning.
The general advice is to book your wedding venue about nine to 12 months before the wedding, so you should already be able to mention it on save-the-dates.
However, wedding planning tends to be fluid, so it’s not recommended to name your venue until a few months before the big day because your plans may change due to guest count or budget.
Thus, you can start searching for your venue early, but you don’t have to make the final decision until about four months before the event.
On the other hand, you don’t have to wait until you receive the RSVPs to book a venue. The RSVP deadline typically is about a month before the event, so you risk not finding any worthy venues available for your date.
Decide on The Wedding Style
One of the most common wedding planning mistakes is choosing the venue before deciding on the wedding style or theme. The interior plays a significant role in creating the atmosphere and should align with your wedding style.
You likely wouldn’t host a black-tie wedding in a rustic barn, just like you wouldn’t host a tropical-themed wedding in a castle.
The problem is that many couples pick a beautiful venue without considering how well it fits their preferred style.
Suppose you’ve booked a venue a year in advance, thinking you want a traditional wedding but later changed your mind and decided you admire the rustic style. In this case, you may have to deal with cancellation fees.
A late venue change can also cause issues with invitations. If you’ve already sent them out, you would have to contact each guest individually over the phone to inform them about the changes.
In other words, don’t hurry. Research wedding styles, communicate with your partner to pick your favorite, and draw inspiration online to choose a venue that best fits your preferred theme.
Sticking to the recommended planning order, i.e., choosing the style first and then the venue, will help you avoid a headache in planning.
Finalize The Guest List
Different wedding venues have different guest capacities; that’s obvious. However, couples often neglect the guest count when choosing their wedding venue or forget that the guest list may change.
Picking a wedding venue before finalizing the guest list is another common wedding planning mistake. There’s typically no issue in accommodating a couple of extra guests, but problems arise when the guest count changes drastically.
The most common reason for significant guest list changes is the budget. Maybe your parents will refuse to chip in or decide to give you more money. Maybe the venue fees will change due to increased demand.
However, an unlimited budget isn’t a guarantee either. Your international guests may be unable to attend the wedding due to flight restrictions, or your partner may decide to invite all their school pals after booking the venue.
If the venue is too small, you would have to uninvite people from your wedding, and that’s a no-no in the wedding invitation etiquette. In contrast, if the venue is too big, you’re overpaying for space you won’t use.
Of course, you can’t know the exact guest count until you receive your RSVPs, which is too late to book a venue.
However, you should at least finalize the guest lit from your end and know the maximum guest count to avoid the venue being too small.
Another note is to decide on whether you want to invite kids. Not every venue is child-friendly. If you invite only adults and book an adult-only venue but later decide to also invite kids, you will have to change the place.
Consider Your Budget
Budget is one of the primary factors in wedding decision-making for many couples. Unfortunately, most of us have a limited budget, regardless of how low or high it is.
Couples always have to decide which wedding features they value more and which less to compromise. For example, you may think that a gorgeous wedding gown is your top priority at the beginning of the planning but change your mind later.
Priorities change, and so do portions of the budget assigned to specific wedding features.
Furthermore, your budget may be affected by market prices, sudden changes at work, unplanned expenses not related to the wedding, parent contribution, and other factors.
For this reason, you should only book the venue after you’ve finalized the wedding budget and decided how big of a sum you’re willing to spend on each feature.
On average, the venue accounts for about 30% of the total wedding budget, but this figure may vary depending on the couple’s priorities.
Your Wedding Season
The peak wedding season starts in May and ends in late October. All wedding vendors and venues tend to be extra busy during peak times, so if you’re planning to get married in a popular month, book your venue early.
More specifically, most weddings occur in September, October, and June. If your wedding is scheduled for one of these months, the general recommendation is to book the venue 12 to 14 months in advance.
Of course, there’s always a chance of finding a beautiful venue at the last moment, but let’s face it – the odds aren’t high.
You may get lucky if another couple changes their mind but turning down a gorgeous venue at peak wedding time isn’t common.
May, August, and July continue the list of the most popular wedding months. Couples planning to tie the knot during these months should book their venue nine to 12 months in advance.
December, November, and April couples can book their venues six to nine months in advance, and those who are getting married off the season in February, January, or March can wait until three to six months before the big day.
Note that the indicated times are only general advice. You should also consider other factors such as the guest list, budget, and invitation timeline when deciding whether it’s the right time to book a wedding venue.
Better Sooner Than Later?
Now, the main question is – is it better to book a wedding venue sooner or later? As a rule of thumb, you should start researching available venues as soon as you get engaged to find the best deals and the most beautiful places.
If you have no doubt about your guest count and budget and already have a specific venue in mind, book it as early as possible. However, that’s a rare case.
Typically, booking a venue too early causes just as many problems as booking it late. Therefore, book your venue sooner rather than later, but only after you finalize primary points such as the budget, guest count, and event style.
Venue Booking Deadline
The earliest time to book a wedding venue is after you’ve finalized major planning points. But what’s the wedding venue booking deadline?
That’s a valid question because many couples struggle to pick their preferred style or finalize the guest count until a few months before the event.
In other cases, people want to get married as soon as possible instead of planning for a year.
Generally, the latest you should choose a wedding venue is when you plan to send the formal invitations or three to four months before the big day. However, the deadline may shift depending on your wedding season.
When To Book Venue For a Destination Wedding
The venue booking timeline for a destination wedding differs from domestic weddings. We recommend couples planning to tie the knot abroad book their venue 12 to 16 months in advance.
The couple must send formal wedding invitations at least six months in advance for destination weddings to allow the guests enough time to clear their calendars and book flights and accommodations.
Because guests should receive wedding information earlier, the couple must also book the venue earlier. However, the timeline also depends on the demand.
Some places are trendy for destination weddings, and couples must book their venue 16 to 18 months in advance. In contrast, some places may not be a common choice, and the couple can wait to book the venue.
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