With hearts set on the venue, plan for a date at least a year, but no less than six or nine months out from the desired date, before securing the location.
“It’s grown so fast, and I don’t think anybody knows how to deal with it,” Lesnick explains of the competition for wedding venues in Tennessee, particularly in Nashville and Gatlinburg.
“For 2016 we have almost every Saturday booked already. So if someone wants a specific date, we do recommend that they book at least a year out.”
Booking well in advance can have other benefits, says Lindsay Barrows of Custom Love Gifts and Events in Knoxville, who is part of the Smoky Mountain Wedding Professionals Association as well.
“I worked with a bride who ended up saving a lot of money on her venue and some of her vendors because she booked so far in advance that when they changed their prices the following year when her wedding actually was – she had already locked in prices from the previous year,” Barrows adds.
Lesnick notes a venue could run anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000, and the overall wedding could run $30,000 to $100,000. Moreover, if it is an outdoor wedding there should always be a backup.
“Brides have a lot of dreams,” says Sarah Anne Miller, director of weddings at Randi’s. “They look at more of the décor and the prettiness of the wedding and not really the logistical part of it. They want an outdoor wedding for 200 people in September, you’ve got to think about weather.”
Five weeks after the Omni opened in 2013, it hosted its first wedding. It had about 20 last year and seven already on the books, and there are even three scheduled for 2017.
“The typical wedding is still booking about a year out,” says Shirley Langguth, assistant director of catering at Omni Hotels. The Omni has multiple wedding ceremony locations picked out onsite, and also hosts numerous day-after wedding brunches.