When is too soon to book a venue?

June 25 |
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Photo by tmk7904
We just got engaged less than a week ago and have begun calling around to get pricing info for venues and caterers. Fiancé says its too soon to start planning and I have to relax. I want a wedding in 10 months and don't want to miss out because I waited.

Am I jumping the gun? When do you start making plans and putting down deposits?


Depending on your region and your venue, some spots can get booked out a year (or even two years!) in advance — so sooner is probably fine.

We'd love to hear from Offbeat Bride readers — when is too early to book wedding venue?

  1. I booked my venue in August last year and we're not getting married until November 2014, so I'm a really early bird! The main reason being we had quite specific requirements – we wanted somewhere with lots of history, that was big enough for around 100 guests and would do the ceremony and reception, and was in the city where we met – and the place we have is perfect so I didn't want to lose out by waiting until this spring. Most of the wedding magazines I've looked at say 9-12 months before your wedding is about the right time to book a venue, or even earlier if you want a summer wedding (the place we're getting married already had bookings for certain dates in 2015 when I went to look!) so I think 10 months for somewhere you love is perfectly fine :)

    2 agree
  2. If you want to have your wedding in 10 months….I say book now. Often venues book a year or more in advance, so if you find something that is open I'd take it. Writer Boy and I were engaged for 8 months, and the first thing I did was book a venue. Those months fly by quickly!

    1 agrees
  3. Honestly sooner is better. We booked ours I think 11 months out ish? Because with everyone's schedules there was literally like, one weekend we had to work with.

    I mean, there are a couple negatives to booking early- in our case a festival got scheduled after we booked pretty close to us on our wedding weekend so traffic is probably going to be a mess, and it would have been nice to know before we booked. Plus if you find something else you like better later on, then you lose the deposit etc.

    But I think the pros outweigh the possible cons in most cases. It was such a weight off my shoulders to have the venue taken care of early on, and a lot of planning, guest list, etc etc stuff you usually can't really get rolling on until you know your venue. Plus we got last year's pricing on it since we booked you know, last year, they said they were going to raise it for this year so BONUS.

    1 agrees
    • We were engaged for 5 years (on purpose) and we booked our venue 3 years out. We got an amazing deal on a wonderful location this way. The sooner the better definitely.

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  4. We booked our venue about 18 months in advance, which I thought seemed silly, but the venue coordinator said she had already received many reservations in our time frame. I'm glad we locked in our venue, because it affected all our other plans in terms of the style of the wedding, the size of the guest list, and the logistics of the day. AND I actually met another bride (we were having our hair done at the same salon on our mutual wedding day) who tried to book our venue for the exact same day – but we had it locked in first, so we were the lucky winners.

    1 agrees
  5. We put down deposits on our venues almost 18 months before the wedding date. We were a little early compared to most other couples looking to get married when we would, but beating the crowd made planning less hectic. Once we had the venues secured, we were able to relax for a little while and take it slow with research and planning other details. Now, we are only 3.5 months away from the big day and it's still smooth sailing! FH and I are glad we started early.

    1 agrees
  6. We booked our venue a little less than a year in advance. Depending on what city you are getting in married in and what date you are looking at holding your ceremony on, I would say the earlier the better. We aren't getting married in my hometown for several reasons, but the availability of venues (some were booked two years out!!) was one reason we decided to look at another close-by city.

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  7. We just signed contracts and will be putting down deposits on our venue and caterer this week – our date is about 9 months away. I started calling venues and gathering prices to tease out what we could realistically look at doing for how many people (and wrote a prelim guest list) at about 11 months out, we started trying to schedule venue visits at around 10 months out. Some venues thought we were a bit nuts asking for rental info so far ahead of time, some venues seemed to expect it and already had schedule conflicts for our dates. If it's a popular wedding venue for your area, it might be booked 1-2 years in advanced, if it's a little community church hall that might not be the case. So context and comfort level might be the key – but I wouldn't say you're early (or late) at this point. All the more time to not be freaking out about when that phone call gets returned and how fast the mail carrier moves today.

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  8. If you want the wedding in 10 months, I'd definitely start booking now! You can't really do anything else until you have your venue and such squared away, anyway. And some really popular venues book out that far in advance, especially if it's peak season! I tried booking things two years in advance and people didn't really look at me too weirdly.

    As for bridal party stuff, that can definitely wait until like 6 months out. A lot of things can happen with friends in 4 months!

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  9. I think it is important to listen to your partner, though. Maybe he doesn't want a wedding in 10 months. I obviously don't know more than what your comment says, but I remember when I first got engaged, my fiance would get anxious every time I brought up the wedding (which was a lot in the beginning). I finally realized that he just needed to get used to being engaged before he could think about getting married. And so we were happily engaged with no wedding plans for five months. And then we planned our wedding in eight.
    But to the comment of venues, I think it really depends on what kind of venue you are looking. Big fancy, sure not too early. Casual and open, maybe a little early. We did ours in a friend's back yard, so reserving really necessary.

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    • THIS exactly. I was thinking this as I was reading all the other comments. There are two issues here: 1) logistically, how early is too early to plan, and 2) emotionally, how early is too early to plan.

      Sounds like OP is excited (as well he/she should be!) and that excitement looks like jumping right into planning. Maybe OP's fiance wants to do something else with that excitement, like just talk about how nice the future will be together.

      I would not have felt emotionally comfortable beginning to plan so fast. For that reason, we extended our engagement so that we could get used to it, then begin the actual planning.

      So I'd agree with fiance- spend some time relaxing :) Depending on how offbeat your wedding is especially, you can book a lot of things quite last-minute.

      2 agree
      • This is what I was thinking too when I read this. My fiance and I are still getting used to the idea of being engaged! We've been engaged for …oh gee 4 months now and have just started nailing down some logistics. Not that I'm not excited about wedding planning, I just wanted to enjoy being engaged a bit before it got too stressful. Make sure you are on the same page.

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      • Agreed. Plus something else to consider is maybe he sees this whole wedding bit going a little differently than you are. Obviously if you have already had a chat about this its a moot point but maybe he is envisioning something super casual or maybe a fancy pants venue that needs to be booked in advance wasn't even in his thoughts.

        Or maybe he just doesn't understand because he's never had to plan anything like this before and thinks its like renting a hotel room. If he just doesn't understand then maybe explain how it works to him.

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      • Such a good point – definitely good to be in touch with the emotional end of the question, we were engaged for several months before I was able to begin really focusing on doing actual work. (I dabbled in color theory and dress styles and frivolous bits because I was excited and avoided the guest list and venue questions because I was overwhelmed)

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    • I was thinking along the same lines that there is a difference between what is logistically appropriate and what feels emotionally right. Logistically, 10 months out is definitely not too early. Places around me sometimes book 3 years out.

      Before you freak out though, you should talk to your fiance and determine if he wants to get married in 10 months. Maybe his idea of engagement is more of the "I intend to marry you… someday," kind. Whereas yours is more of the "Let's plan a wedding," kind.

      I got engaged about 3 weeks ago. We both knew we wanted to get married for a while but the engagement was more of a signal to the world that we would be having a wedding soon. That said, my parents went in to full planning mode the same day we announced it. They were pushing us to get married ASAP (like 4 months). We realized that maybe we announced it too early because we really wanted to let it sink in a bit before we started planning.

      So we compromised. This past weekend we settled on a venue and a date, about 10 months out actually. That way my parents could rest assured that we did intend to get married reasonably soon (not let the engagement drag on for years) and my fiance and I insisted that since the venue is booked, and everything else requires shorter time windows, there must be a moratorium on wedding talk for a month or so to allow us time to adjust to being engaged and absorbing the magnitude of the promise we are making to each other.

      I suggest a compromise like this. After you talk, if your fiance does agree with the 10 month time line, research venues and book one. Then drop the wedding talk (no matter how much it kills you) for a bit to prevent him from feeling overwhelmed and rushed.

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    • I agree. I loved getting engaged and wanted to start planning the wedding straight away. I soon realised that my partner needed to get his head round the idea of being engaged before we could even think about planning the actual wedding. I think us girls have been looking forward to the planning subconsciously for awhile, while the dudes just tend to think – cool, got engaged. And that's it. Not COOL! GOT ENGAGED! dresscakevenueflowerscoloursholyshit… which is what I know I did. Good luck!

      1 agrees
  10. Book ASAP is you want a wedding 10 months away. My fiance and I got engaged 12/27/12 and started looking for venues in January. We chose a date of 11/2/13 for our wedding and once we decided on a venue that date was gone! We are now 10/12/13 which I am fine with because we get to keep our venue and I get to marry the man of my dreams sooner :) Give your fiance some hard evidence if he needs to be convinced. Get any wedding planner (free ones online) and you can show him how quickly everything needs to be done. if you don't have a wedding planner, it can be quite overwhelming!

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  11. We are two and a half years out and already calling around and pricing. We want to have one reserved in six months at the latest. Ten months is perfectly fine.

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  12. Definitely not too soon. I did the same because honestly you can't do anything until you have the venue and the date. I booked a bunch of things over a year out and then did nothing wedding related for a few months. Now, it's time to pick the planning back-up, but since I have the venue, caterer, officiant, and photographer already, it's more relaxed.

    1 agrees
  13. 10 months? where we are 10 months is even maybe a bit tight if you're picky about your date. We had only 6 months to plan. then 4 month by the time I got around to it and where we ended up having it ended up being perfect but it wasn't what I had in mind in the first place. I'd be looking now if I were you…

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  14. Book as soon as you get the itch! Honestly, I have been ready for this shindig for years and was totally relaxed about the whole thing.
    And then I lost my ceremony venue.
    Twice.
    Seriously, if you like something, put it on the books!

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  15. I am a really big fan of taking time to enjoy your engagement and be in love and excited and working out a joint vision with your partner. (Let alone, prepare for the actual marriage) What are your reasons for this strict deadline, is it all about your personal individual dreams or does it have something to do with relationship milestones or family needs or practical concerns? If your fiance is telling you to relax, how much have you and him/her actually talked about what you both really want for the wedding? (Even if the tell you they really doesn't care and to run with it, there's probably something they wants that will only come out after you make a choice that's different.) I'm really glad that I waited a few months before starting to plan, because once we started, things got kind of crazy. I still don't feel like we were quite on the same page on vision and budget, but taking more time to argue and hammer that out might have made me miss the window I felt I had to get going. Now retrospectively, I wish I had let us take that time.

    However, I am having a small wedding and mostly looked at alternative, not weddingy venues, so losing out on something in high demand wasn't a huge concern for me; there are a number of places I could have done it and I was flexible with my date. So if its going to break your heart to lose something you really like and/or your date or other specifics that you need are really important, than I would say book your venue and hire your photographer (My one regret about having a short planning window is that all the affordable professional photographers I got referrals for were all booked up for my Saturday summer date), let the people who its most important to you to be there know when and what city its going to be in, maybe get your dress if you are going the route where they have to order it, but then sit back and don't do anything at all for a few months or weeks at least and enjoy your partner and focus on your transition to marriage. And resist the efforts of people around you to rush you into other decisions and put in their two cents on things you haven't even gotten into yet or only ask and talk about the wedding. I know this is not the case for everyone, but frenzied wedding planning changed me and challenged my relationship in ways that were not sustainable for a whole year. Good luck!

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  16. Definitely book now! My wedding is two years out and we've already selected our venue and started the "okay we'd like to book this now what" conversation with the venue coordinator., and I know that they've already booked every single weekend next June. There's lots that can be done at 10 months and you need your venue before anything else.

    1 agrees
  17. Simply put:

    It's never too soon to book ANYTHING wedding-related.

    However, that said, your information in your question is a little vague. You talk about how YOU want a wedding in 10 months, and how YOU'VE called around about catering and venues. Have you guys talked about this stuff at all? Does your fiance want a wedding in 10 months? Do you both agree about where you want to get married? Do you both share the same vision for the wedding?

    While it's never too soon to book anything wedding-related, (I started booking stuff for mine about 14 months out – one month after I got engaged), you both need to sit down and talk about what you want your wedding to be. I started booking things ASAP…but only AFTER both my fiance and I were on the same page about everything.

    1 agrees
  18. My fiance and I got engaged over Christmas Eve last year, The first thing we did when we got back from our Christmas break is start making lists of locations that fit what we envisioned to be our ceremony and reception site. Venu is important – because it helps you pin down an exact date – especially when you don't have some "significant" date that you just have to get married on. We originally wanted to get married in November, but ended up having to push things back to December time. But booking your venu solidifies your date and also helps with the process of picking your other vendors. Especially critical when you are selecting a location that is not necessarily in the same town you live in.

    Now, when I'm talking to vendors, I can give them an exact date and even time of when I will be needing their services.

    We booked our venue in Feburary. We also booked the rest of our vendors (except for cake) by the end of March. The earlier you set up vendors, the better you can keep track of budget, even consider breaking down monthly payments if needed, and also the less you have to juggle leading up to the months counting down to the big day. (at least in my opinion, there are other possible stressors that can come of booking early.)

    Just make sure you both know what you want and don't pack in too many venue tours in one day or even weekend… burnout makes choices hard to make and by the end you can end up just picking something you didn't want because you just want to get something.

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  19. It totally depends on your area and the kind of venues you're looking at. We got married at a restaurant and didn't have any trouble booking about six months in advance (and, honestly, probably could have booked it way later in the game and still be fine). But another couple we know is getting married in a small resort town at a fancy wedding venue, and had to settle for a second-choice date even though they booked almost a year and a half in advance. Totally depends on your circumstances, but it's probably better to err on the early side.

    1 agrees
  20. I think you've gotten some great advice from everyone about checking in with your fiance to make sure that things aren't moving too fast for him. With all things, openly talking about what's going on is the number one solution. That being said, I will also add that him saying he doesn't think you need to book a venue yet might just be him not being familiar with how far in advance weddings need to be booked. When I first looked into wedding planning, I was frequently surprised as to how soon things were supposed to be done, and my fiance who has been less involved in the planning (but would've been happy getting married the day after he proposed if possible) frequently tells me that we have plenty of time to get certain things done when we're actually behind schedule… because if you don't know, it doesn't seem like it'd be necessary to have a dress more than six months in advance!

    In general, I'm definitely of the opinion that there's no such thing as too soon for weddings, as you'll have more options available if things aren't booked up yet and can more carefully pick and choose what fits best. And the venue in particular is an important one, as most other wedding decisions revolve around knowing things you can only know for certain once you have a venue booked. That being said, it is definitely doable to book things later on in the process than recommended, but you'll probably need more flexibility in terms of what you want (i.e. how much it costs, what particular date it is, what kind of a place it's in, etc.)

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  21. I just got engaged three days ago, and I've already gotten quotes from two venues, and we'll be visiting one next week. We haven't even set a date, but based on availability we probably are going to get married in early May of 2014 (just over 10 months away). You're not too early. Better safe than sorry!

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  22. Never too early! We booked our October date in January. We are using a vacation rental, so we probably didn't have to book that far out(I doubt October is really that busy for them) but my sweetie is a planner! I'm so grateful she is because I am not- she's practically planned the whole thing, but we've discussed everything as we've gone along. Communicating is key to wedding planning. I was worried at first that she might feel like "this is what you want, just tell me where to show up" because it seemed that way at first, but as soon as I said I wanted her input and help I haven't really done anything except explain my "vision" – also, the time between picking a date and that actual date will soar by in a blink of an eye- planning as much ahead as you can will save you oodles of stress in the end. Good luck!

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  23. We booked our venue in December 2011 for a September 2013 wedding! It's one of the very first tasks for wedding planning, and once you have that in place you can organize everything else around it based on the date and location. If you want to have a 10 month engagement I would say definitely book it in sooner rather than later.

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  24. I think we booked our venue about the same time. Some areas you kind-of need to book really far ahead. Like major cities like LA, NY, DC, and Chicago (poor Chicago and it's lack of abbreviation)

    It also depends on what venue you are looking at. I know certain famous locations can be booked for two years! But these tend to be places that are major gardens, specialty homes, etc, that probably only do one wedding a weekend.

    As for booking too early? I would only say other than not staying together, the only other issue is changing your wedding to an earlier date. Originally I planned for a fall wedding, but my hubby and I decided, we couldn't wait. So we bumped it to May, instead- then booked a place.

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  25. We booked our almost a year in advance. I wanted to make sure I did not miss out on a place that I loved. And also once you find THE place it is nice to just book it and move on to the next decision.

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  26. We booked our venue over a year in advance. And let me tell you, getting a head start on planning is awesome. Because here I am with 5 months left and I feel totally chill because we have almost everything taken care of. I wanted to get the planning out of the way early so I wouldn't have anything to panic over when the date approaches, and I don't!

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  27. We booked our original venue ~1 year in advance, but switched venues a few months later. We initially wanted a date close to our original one, but 9 months out, every weekend was booked. We had them look two months in either direction for a free weekend, and there was only one. One! It was two months earlier than the other date, but we took it. Otherwise we'd have been postponing the wedding by _four_ months.

    So, doing the math, the venue we switched to was booked solid (except the single date that we took) for 13 months out. Booking early is definitely a good plan, with some places.

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  28. It's never too soon to start looking and pricing. I started looking (just to get an idea) and I found the perfect place, and it's a good thing I found it early because you HAVE to book a year in advance.

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  29. It's never too soon. 10 months is not really a long time. Wedding takes many months to prepare. Besides, you might get early bird discount if you book months away.

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  30. I'm so glad to see this question! I've been trying to figure it out, but I admit, this particular kind of planning is not my specialty. I'm happy there are so many answers!

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  31. First thing we booked!

    Once we bagged it we could work on the rest of our ideas! plus if you can seal the deal at a good and frozen price, all the better!

    1 agrees
    • It's true. Once you book the venue, you essentially have THE DATE. All other contracts hinge on the date, so it just makes sense to start there (and make sure the most critical people to your wedding are available that day before you sign).

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  32. Honestly? We booked our venue two YEARS before we got married. And put deposits down on caterers, photographers and cars around the same time.
    Why? Well, firstly because we wanted a Saturday in the middle of the school summer holidays and there are only six of those a year, and secondly because by putting down deposits so early, it gave us a more realistic idea of how much we had to save to pay off in full.
    I know it's not for everyone, but I stand by our choice to reserve everything mega-early, and I believe it helped us get married debt-free.

    2 agree
  33. Like most of what everyone has said, the earlier the better! We got engaged in May 2013, we live in Seattle and all of our family and the majority of our friends live back in the San Francisco area, where we are from, so it was no question that we were going to have the wedding in California. Luckily, we were able to find some great venues via the internet and its amazingness. Instead of us being able to go and see the venue, we arranged for our moms to go! The venue we chose was so cool about this, and they answered all of our questions no problem. Long story short, we set a date for October 18 2014 and have the venue booked. Thats about 17 months away. I honestly cannot tell you how nice it is to know we have a space, and not only that, we are paying for the wedding ourselves and having this much time is helpful to save and pay as we go.
    Good luck!

    1 agrees
  34. I agree with everyone else that has said to make sure you are talking to your fiance about why he is telling you to slow down. While his actual proposal was a surprise to me, my fiance and I had discussed more than once our thoughts on engagement lengths and the like. He was worried that I'd want a short engagement because he's seen a lot of those in his family, but I have always felt that 18 months for an engagement is the most comfortable timeline. So, even before he proposed, he had a rough idea of how long we'd have before the actual wedding. I think that for the both of us, knowing this before the engagement helped us feel comfortable with my sudden 180 from a "never cared about wedding stuff" lady into a "Pinterest and wedding blogs/magazines OMG HOW CUTE" fiend.

    With that said, we managed to end up deciding on a date exactly 18 months after the day we got engaged (18 months and a day, depending on what continent you were on the day we announced it to our families). We spent the first 2 weeks of our engagement abroad visiting his family and friends and then another week or two back home getting used to our daily lives as an engaged couple. I started scoping out potential venues around that same time, and I think I sent out my first email after we'd been engaged for a month. With 14-15 months to go, we found the venue we want about 3 weeks ago and are signing the contract with them next week. Our first choice "holy moly we need this venue" was a total bust when we were told that the organization's rooftop terrace would be closed for at least a year and they couldn't make any promises until next Spring, otherwise we'd have booked the venue after 5 weeks of being engaged.

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  35. I can only echo what others are saying. It's never too soon if the venue you want is popular, or if you live in a big city. Most of the WIC websites I read before I found Offbeat Bride recommend booking your venue first thing, at least a year in advance! So that's what I did, I booked my venue 15 months in advance. Later I come to find out, it wasn't all that necessary. In my small town, it was only necessary to book about 4 months in advance.

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  36. It depends on what you want! I got engaged in February and we knew we wanted to be married by this fall, so I immediately (like the next day) began looking at venues. I was a frantic crazy mess for about a week when I realized I wanted such a small wedding that we could easily get married in the gardens at a beautiful local church for almost nothing.

    Then we went back and forth on dates for a while… and just booked the gardens last week! A little over a month before our wedding :)

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  37. I've experienced the urge to instantly book and the terror of 'what if everything's booked out' – but agree wholeheartedly with the comments about giving your fiance (and yourself) a chance to just sit back and relish in the pretty cool just engaged phase. This is a really big and important step in your life and it is important to focus on your relationship and the commitment your making. It is actually not about the wedding, ultimately. And chances are, you'll be fine to book something in a month or so. Just relish this time, for a little bit. Then you can get your scrapbooks, spreadsheets and planners out and go totally nuts! Congratulations and good luck!!

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  38. Never to early to book the venue you really want. We secured our location at the 10month mark. We got in just in time. They book up for summer so fast at our location but once it was ours, it was ours and here in 24 days, we're getting married!! Having the extra time to go back and visit the location has been priceless since this is an away destination – 2hrs out of town, no phone service and logistics needed to be considered.

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  39. Start planning as soon as possible! We are getting married next March. We booked our venue 3 months ago – we really wanted to get married January (our Summer time) but our venue was booked out until the end of 2016! We were lucky another couple pulled out.

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  40. I booked a year and a half out, and the month before our wedding was already booked at our venue. It really depends on the venues your looking at. If your the type of person who would stress over not getting the right venue and day that you want, I would try to book it.

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  41. I'd agree with having a chat with your fiance about whether he wants to get used to the idea. For us it was the other way round!
    He proposed, I accepted, but it took 3 weeks for it to sink in and become real for me. The night after he proposed, there were birthday drinks with friends, and I didn't go, I knew they'd be all 'whoop' about the engagement and it was just too much to take in. If he'd started on immediately with me about booking venues etc. I wouldn't have been able to cope with that.
    As it is, that was in the beginning of November, we'd booked the venue before Christmas, and now 7 months later, it's less than 2 weeks till the big day! So give him some time, if you think he may need it.

    I'd also agree that nothing is too soon to book if it's wedding related. That said, you'll always be able to find something, even if it isn't your first choice. I left it very late to book a make-up artist, and was struggling with finding someone available, but I now have, and she's frikkin awesome!

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  42. Gah, only 10 months? Start looking and book for sure! It really depends where you're getting married, but I started looking 2 years out and some of the places I viewed already had bookings for around my date.

    Early is always better, unless you're planning on someone's property, or a backyard wedding. Even then, I'd start looking now.

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  43. We got engaged last December and booked the venue a week later. We wanted July 2014. Neatly 20 months in advance and the first two dates we wanted were already gone.

    That being said, the venue is quite popular, and July is peak season.

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  44. We're getting married in 15 months and we already have our venue booked, and we're interviewing other vendors. 10 months isn't too early.

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