Post-engagement, there comes a point in every couples’ journey where the logistical feat that is planning a wedding hits home. Where to begin? When to begin?
As a general rule-of-thumb, most people start planning their wedding at least six months before the big day. This gives you enough time to book your venue, sort out your catering, choose your dress/suit, hire a photographer and send out invitations. Then come the details: fine-tuning menus, table decorations, floristry, place cards, music – just to name a few.
However, before any of these decisions can be made, you’ll have to pick a date, and this is where you might want to consider the season more broadly. In fact, the season your wedding falls under will probably influence most aspects of the occasion. You’re unlikely to book an exclusively outdoor venue for your January wedding, or pick a fur-collared dress for a celebration in high summer! Beyond these functional considerations, incorporating seasonal elements into your wedding is a fantastic way to subtly theme and bring cohesion to your special day.
At The HAC, our spaces are used for weddings all year round. From our five-acre Artillery Garden through to the Long Room (which, come the autumn and winter months, looks particularly impressive with its deep red walls and period features), we’ve hosted hundreds of ceremonies and receptions. So, to help you start the process, we’ve drawn on our experience as one of London’s most prestigious historic venues: here are our top tips on how to plan your wedding based on the season you’re getting hitched.
Spring Weddings (March - May)
When to start planning: September – November
Things to consider
Nothing says romance quite like a spring wedding! The colours seem that bit brighter, the sun that bit warmer, the air that bit sweeter. However, given the unpredictability of the weather, it’s worth picking a venue with outdoor and indoor spaces available in case of an unexpected April shower. Here at the HAC, we offer four spectacular indoor spaces alongside hire of our Artillery Garden and summer terrace – an ideal setting for a sophisticated springtime wedding (come rain or shine!).
You’ll also want to make use of the natural light and lighter evenings; compared with summer, spring sunsets provide excellent photo opportunities earlier on in the day, leaving you free to let your hair down for the afterparty. Look for spaces with large windows (our Queen’s and Ante Rooms are popular for this very reason, boasting gorgeous period sash windows): they let in the light, and, if your venue has a garden, showcase the season’s vibrancy.
Spring wedding inspiration:
Springtime flowers lend themselves to weddings; daffodils, bluebells, tulips and forget-me-nots can inject a splash of colour into traditional white and ivory palettes. There’s scope to incorporate these florals into your wedding favours, too – seed pouches and pressed-flower soaps are among our favourites!
Pastel or naked wedding cakes also work well for spring celebrations, and, in regard to catering, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Asparagus, lemon, artichoke, and rhubarb are in their prime, as are wild herbs and berries (perfect for botanical-inspired cocktails).
Summer Weddings (June – August)
When to start planning: December – February
Things to consider:
There’s something magical about celebrating in the open air; the long days and balmy summer evenings are perfect for weddings. However, these are British summers – you can never quite rule out the possibility of rain! Having a contingency plan for your outdoor wedding is key, such as a marquee, or an open terrace with indoor access.
With this in mind, your venue is crucial. Our Artillery Garden is the largest of its kind in London, and can accommodate everything from tents, gazebos, bandstands – even fairgrounds! What’s more, our Prince Consort Rooms come with a summer terrace and private courtyard entrance; the versatile space is a blank canvas, ideal for shimmering summer drinks receptions.
Of course, peak season can also mean limited availability, so it’s best to book early. Liaise with caterers if you’re thinking about less conventional food and drink options (BBQs, street food stations, al fresco dining) – and, if you’re heading outside, research durable décor and tableware.
Summer wedding inspiration:
If you love big, bold hues, now’s your chance to implement them: vibrant yellows, fuchsias, sky blues – the world is your technicolour oyster! Alternatively, you could add an element of the tropical to your wedding floristry; anthurium, orchids, protea, and palm leaves give a contemporary twist to floral backdrops.
For food and drink, choose light and fresh. Similarly, be careful when selecting desserts: ice creams, tempting as they are, aren’t always the most practical for large parties (beware the melt!). Consider chilled desserts such as cheesecakes or panna cotta instead.
Autumn Weddings (September – November)
When to start planning: March – May
Things to consider:
The evenings are drawing in and there’s a chill in the air; when you’re celebrating indoors, make sure you look for a venue with capacity to accommodate your guestlist. That said, autumn is one of the most visually arresting times of the year. From golden evening light to fiery foliage, if you can incorporate outdoor elements into your day, you’ll have a natural photoset at your disposal. Venues with terrace or courtyard access offer a good middle ground, enabling you to step outside to make the most of the light and colours, whilst reserving an indoor space for the main event(s).
It’s also useful to have back-ups for the weather. Keeping heaters and air coolers (you can’t rule out a September heatwave!) on hand may prove invaluable with fluctuating temperatures. Fireworks and sparklers can be a lovely touch, too – just ensure your venue has an open space large enough to accommodate them.
Autumnal wedding inspiration:
In autumn, cosy is the name of the game. Use the darker evenings to your advantage and play with fairy lights and soft, rustic furnishings. We recommend bringing the outside in with your floristry and décor: russet garlands, place cards tied to pinecones – perhaps strewn leaves instead of rose petals. The season also gives you free reign to indulge in the richest colours. Don’t be afraid to experiment with metallics, as golds and coppers make wonderful accents for autumn weddings.
In our opinion, catering comes into its own during autumn – it is harvest season, after all! Our renowned catering partners, Searcys, pride themselves on utilising seasonal produce: think pumpkin gnocchi, apple tarts, spiced cinnamon pastries and warming squash soups. If you’re looking to throw a bountiful autumn banquet at your wedding, our in-house chefs are more than happy to discuss tailoring our signature menu to suit your occasion.
Winter Weddings (December – February)
When to start planning: June – August
Things to consider:
When you’re planning a winter wedding, bear in mind that a venue will look different during the summer (when you’re likely to be looking around potential locations). Viewing your chosen space towards the end of the day – or better yet, when the sun’s gone down – might give you a better idea of what the venue will look like in the colder months. If this isn’t possible, ask for a virtual tour or photos of the space from previous seasonal celebrations.
Additionally, you might want to consider keeping your ceremony and reception in the same location, to save guests travelling between two venues (and if so, check your space is licensed for ceremonies, as we are here at The HAC). It’s also worth factoring in transport links – whilst a country house in some far-flung nook of rural England might feel romantic, in heavy rain (or snow), you and your guests could well run into heavy traffic or difficult driving conditions, delaying proceedings. As such, London is a good choice, as you’ll benefit from the city’s excellent tube and rail connections.
Lastly, check whether your venue has cloakroom facilities – trust us, your guests will thank you!
Winter wedding inspiration:
For winter weddings, candles and tealights can create an ambiance unmatched by overhead lighting, although do ask your venue beforehand. If you can’t use naked flames, LED flicker candles are still highly effective.
Whilst the season might conjure images of bare trees and empty flower beds, fear not – holly, ivy, and snowdrops are readily available, and make for some truly beautiful wedding florals.
For the wedding breakfast, think comfort; three-course meals, roasts, mulled wine and hot cocoa are sure to go down a treat with guests. You could also look to incorporate festive elements into your big day. These could be as simple as including a few Christmas songs in your party playlist, or, conversely, form the whole framework for your wedding theme. If Christmas is your favourite time of year, why not go the whole hog with crackers, bauble table decorations and a multi-tiered Christmas cake centrepiece?
Weddings at The HAC
Whether you’re looking to wrap up warm for a winter wedding, or head outdoors for a sparkling summer celebration, at The HAC, our four wedding spaces are as beautiful as they are versatile. From the lawns of the Artillery Garden to our Grade II-listed Long Room, our spaces provide a stunning backdrop for weddings throughout the year. To discuss dates and talk through your requirements, give our team a call on 020 7382 1533, or get in touch here.