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How to Know When to Book Your Wedding Venue

February 9, 2024

Booking your wedding venue can be a really exciting time. After all, this is the place where you and your partner are going to start the next chapter of your lives together. But, you may also be wondering when to book your wedding venue. 

As a wedding photographer myself, I know first hand how much goes into planning a wedding and oftentimes it can feel a bit overwhelming at first. But, a great place to start is your wedding venue.

So, when it comes to when to book your wedding venue, here are a few of my top tips and things to consider to make sure you can book the venue of your dreams!  

When to Book Your Wedding Venue

As Soon as Possible 

A close-up of a bride's hands gently clasped over her midsection, showcasing a glittering white wedding dress with beadwork and a delicate bracelet on her wrist.

The simple answer to when to book your wedding venue is as soon as possible. Your venue is going to dictate a ton of different things about your wedding and can sometimes be one of the more difficult vendors to choose. 

So, this is definitely not a vendor you want to leave until the last minute (and let’s be honest, you don’t really want to leave any of them until the last minute). 

Generally speaking, though, you should start looking to book your venue anywhere from 12 to 18 months before your wedding. This may seem like a long time out and in some cases you may be able to find a venue closer to your wedding date, but the earlier in your wedding planning process you can book your venue, the better. 

Once You Have Nailed Down Your Date 

There are two important pieces of information you should know before you start looking for wedding venues. The first one is going to be your wedding date or at least an approximate date if you are flexible. 

One of the first questions a venue is going to ask you during the booking process is when is your wedding. You need to be able to give them a date or a range of dates so that they are able to tell you right off the bat if the venue is available. 

If the date you choose has a lot of significance to you, this may mean searching around a bit for the perfect venue that has an opening that day. If you are a bit more flexible with your date and just have a general timeframe of when you want to get married, you may have a few more options to choose from. 

Either way, you definitely want to make sure you at least have a loose idea of when you want to get married so you can be sure to find venues that are actually available. 

After Figuring Out the Size of Your Wedding 

An elegant indoor wedding reception venue decorated with rustic wooden tables, adorned with lush floral centerpieces, and overhead circular lighting fixtures wrapped in greenery.

The second piece of information you are going to need is the size of your wedding. This is important for two different reasons: 

  1. This will help dictate what type of venues you are going to be looking at. If you are planning a mico-wedding or elopement, you can look for smaller venues. If you are planning a grand affair, you’ll want to look for larger venues. 
  2. Most venues will need to know the approximate guest count around the time of booking. This is to ensure that they are able to accommodate everyone and can have everything prepared for your wedding. The actual guest count is normally due much closer to the ceremony, but an approximate number of guests that you plan on inviting is really important. 

The size of your wedding may also affect the different packages you can choose from at the venue. For example, some venues will have full scale wedding packages and small wedding packages. 

It’s important to know what your ideal wedding guest list is going to look like so you are able to pick the best package for your wedding that is going to cover everything you need! 

Before Any of Your Other Vendors 

Finally, when it comes to when to book your wedding venue, you should book it before any of your other vendors. The one exception to the rule is potentially your wedding planner. 

If you do want to hire a wedding planner (which can be a lifesaver during this process), they may be able to help you in finding the perfect venue for your wedding. On the other hand, if you do already have the perfect venue in mind, you can consider booking that before hiring your wedding planner. 

However, all of your other vendors should come after your venue. There are a few major reasons why your venue needs to come first. 

One, booking your venue first means you have solidified a date for your wedding. You most likely aren’t going to be able to hire any other vendor, like your photographer, caterer, DJ, etc without giving them the date of your wedding. 

A cozy and intimate wedding reception table setting featuring tall candles, a floral runner, and a warm glow, creating an inviting atmosphere for the evening.

You will also need to tell all of these vendors where your wedding actually is. Are they going to have to fly to a different state or a different country? Is it in the same town that they are? Do they need to book hotels for them and their staff? 

Your venue may also have specific requirements for other vendors, whether that means you have to choose off of their preferred vendor list, the vendors need to provide certain insurance documents, there are restrictions on things that vendors can bring or where they are able to set up during the wedding. 

All of this is important information that your other vendors will most likely ask you during the inquiry process so it is important that you can give them all of this information up front! 

Things to Consider When Booking Your Venue 

When you are thinking about when to book your wedding venue, there are also a few different factors that can play into how far in advance you need to book. 

Peak Seasons 

A bride and groom walking through a vineyard, the groom holding the bride's flowing lace dress, with a beautiful bouquet in her hand, amidst a backdrop of greenery.

Peak seasons are really important when it comes to wedding venues. Depending on where the venue is located, its peak season is going to be a different time. However, if you are planning on having your wedding during that time, you may want to consider reaching out earlier. 

Venues can very easily book out during peak season so the earlier you start your search, the more likely you are to find the perfect venue before they are all booked! It’s also important to note that most venues will have different peak and off-peak pricing. 

While the pricing won’t necessarily change the earlier you book, it is good to understand how much of your wedding budget is going to be spent on the venue so you know exactly what you have left for the other vendors early on in the process. 

The Popularity of the Venue 

How popular a venue is can also affect how early you need to reach out. If you are looking to book the best wedding venue in the city, you’re most likely going to have to reach out at least a year in advance if not more. 

This also goes hand in hand with peak seasons as well. For example, your dream venue may be the best wedding venue in your area. This means that during peak season, the venue books out very quickly. 

However, during the off season, it is a bit slower to book out. So, there are going to be fewer couples reaching out, say in the winter, than there are in the summer for that particular venue. You can still book the best of the best, you can just look at having a winter wedding instead of a summer one! 

The Location of the Venue 

A side table with a vibrant floral arrangement in a mason jar next to a pair of ornate bridal shoes, creating a serene corner at a wedding venue.

When it comes to venues in bigger cities (think NYC, Boston, Chicago, etc), you may find that some venues are booking out more than a year in advance. So, again, the sooner you reach out to book your venue, the better. 

The seasons can also play a big role when it comes to the location of the venue. For example, in general outdoor wedding venues are going to book up faster in the warmer months of the year.

However, you may notice that in some southern states where it is a bit warmer during the winter, the outdoor venues still consistently book out! 

Final Thoughts on How Early Should You Book Your Wedding Venue

Hopefully these tips on when to book your wedding venue help you and your partner plan your dream wedding at the perfect venue. At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that sooner is always going to be better than later. 

Once you have your wedding venue, the next vendor you can check off of your list is your photographer. If you are still looking for that perfect person, I’d love to chat. You can click here to check out my wedding photography services or you can get in touch here to talk through how we can capture your dream wedding day!

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Photographer, amateur snowboarder, dive bar connoisseur,  inspired by music, good movies, and you.

I'm a Charlottesville wedding photographer and I specialize in capturing wedding days with a documentary approach. Love is pretty rad, and your photos should be, too.