While it may seem a little way off yet, summer will soon be upon us, so if you’re planning to tie the knot this summer, it’s time to start searching for your dream venue!

Choosing the venue is probably the toughest part of wedding planning, so the sooner you get it sorted, the better, and we’ve got some top tips to help make it that little bit easier.

Know what you want

One of the biggest mistakes that people make is to jump into venue hunting without a really clear idea of what it is that they’re after.

Sit down with your partner early one to hash out the absolute ‘must haves’ for your venue, as well as some things which you’d be more willing to compromise on.

At this stage, you’ll also need to set a realistic budget, but this doesn’t mean you have to compromise! Just be clear on how much you can afford to spend, and stick to it.

Having a rough idea of numbers is a good idea too so that you can rule out any venues which are going to be too big or small, before you start looking properly.

Book early

It pays to book your wedding venue well in advance, to give you plenty of time to get everything else ready for the big day, so it might be worth looking to book a venue for next summer.

In fact, this post from The Knot suggests that couples should book their venue at least a year to nine months before the big day.

Having said this, it’s still possible to get good deals by booking last minute, especially if you keep an eye out for cancellations.

Either way, once you have your venue sorted you can focus on with sorting out everything else, such as the food, entertainment and decorations.

Decide on a theme

Many people choose their theme after they’ve chosen to their venue, but we recommend doing so the other way around.

This is because your theme could end up having a big impact on the venue itself. For example, if you really want a rustic-style theme, then your venue is going to need to be something such as an old country house, not a modern boutique hotel.

Everything on the big day must come together in a cohesive manner, and trying to crowbar an ill-fitting theme into the wrong venue will really let the day down.

For some theme inspiration, check out this guide from Wedding Ideas.

Don’t forget location

Finding the right venue with all the right features is one thing, but the right location is just as important.

Most couples will choose to go one of two ways, either picking somewhere close to where they live or a ‘destination’ wedding where the couple, their friends and family can enjoy a bit of time away.

Bear in mind that picking somewhere too far away from home could serve to put off some of your guests, but it could also really elevate the day and make it into an unforgettable experience for your guests.

For example, we spoke to the Broadoaks Country House, who said: “Couples love getting married here in the Lake District, as it provides one of the most dramatic and romantic backdrops in the country, allowing couples to tie the knot overlooking a beautiful lake, or in the shadow of jaw-dropping mountains.

“It also makes for some amazing photographs, which they’ll cherish forever!

Always be on the lookout for savings

The venue is going to be one of the biggest expenses for your big day, so make sure that you’re always looking for smart ways to cut down on the cost.

For example, it’s always worth speaking to the venue to see if there are any deals or offers that you could benefit from.

You may find that you could get bumped up to the bridal suite, or maybe some free drinks and canapés for your guests on arrival if you ask nicely!

Also ask if they know of any suppliers who they regularly work with for things such as the catering and decorations, as they could be able to offer you a discount.