More than a Wedding

How hosting pre- and post-wedding events can boost your revenue with inspiration from Kelly Chandler

Luxury weddings, often with a very international client base, have long been hosting ‘wedding weekends’ or celebrations lasting more than one day and it is fast becoming a trend for mainstream weddings too.

Why is this? More and more guests are travelling greater distances to be at wedding celebrations as families and friends live further afield and away from each other. It makes practical sense therefore to make the opportunity for a get together count, and ensure the travel and time investment is really worthwhile.

Millennial couples (the main generation marrying now) are tending to favour spending more time with their nearest and dearest in less formal settings over the quick and grand ‘wow’. They value the idea of spending quality time, often creating different vibes and settings across a multiple day celebration and allowing the most important people in their lives to ‘pitch in’ (millennials are all about collaboration) and get to know each other with some shared experiences and memories.

Pic: Getty Images
Pic: Getty Images

Opportunities for your venue?
There is a plethora of pre- and post-wedding day activities that couples either want to see or need to be inspired by, and I see very few venues proactively making the most of their marketing activity and offerings of such events. So why not explore these and create your own ideas in your own unique venue style? Some of these ideas might not be direct revenue earners for you the venue but they are big bonus features for choosing you, recommending you and for building supplier partner loyalty and relationships too.

To get you started, think about:

  • A ‘Ladies only pre-wedding pamper party’ – manicures, pedicures, massage – you name it, a strong beauty offering with lunch/afternoon tea and some proper girly time is much desired by the bride, her maids and the mums. You could even lay on monogrammed slippers or robes like the ones from
  • Pic: Getty Images
    Pic: Getty Images

    The modern man is not to be forgotten either – this might equally take in a bit of pampering with a wet shave and specialist barber or a massage. It might alternatively be a perfect day for some sporting activities – golf, clay pigeon, archery are all obvious ones. Team them with a little light ale tasting perhaps over a hearty man feast and you’ve a winner.

  • Rehearsal dinner – this doesn’t usually take in a ceremony rehearsal (the naming comes from our friends across the pond) but an informal dinner with anything from 10-50 guests for a typical wedding. It’s usually much more simple than the main event but often includes a sit down evening meal and wine to welcome everyone to the main day, with some light entertainment, short speeches, sometimes some ice breakers or ways to mix up the guest list ahead of the key wedding day.
    Do you have spaces that are otherwise empty at this time which could well host such events? Let couples know how you can do it and make it special, bearing in mind they will most likely want to keep a big ‘reveal’ for their key wedding space and will not want to use this. Even if you can’t offer this on-site at your venue, would it be the sort of business you could partner up with one of your local accommodation/pub venues on? Might it be a chance to cement a closer working relationship there to everyone’s gain?
  • Traditional full English breakfast
    Pic: Getty Images

    Post wedding brunch – often almost as big in guest size as the wedding itself, the next day brunch (and we generally mean brunch and not breakfast) is usually really popular with a lot of guests as it’s a perfect chance to catch up over stories of the night before, see the couple in a much more relaxed setting and enjoy a very tasty hangover cure of a good ‘full English’ and/or brunch menu. The popularity of brunch has really taken off in restaurants and cafes particularly in our cities so it’s natural that it’s more expected at our weddings and is the perfect relaxed way to spend two to three hours reminiscing over the previous day.

You might find some couples want to turn this day into something a bit more structured and organised too – I’ve planned family sports day contests, festi-style chill out music stages and barbecues, duck herding and much more.

Don’t be afraid to create something quirky and fitting to your location and offer it up. It won’t suit everyone but could well be the perfect inspiration your couple are seeking. It could gives you the edge when they are making their venue choice and gives you the benefit of extra revenue with clients already in the planning.

Pic: Getty Images
Pic: Getty Images

Where can you promote these extra services?
Make a ‘thing’ of your extra services in your wedding materials from the outset. Tell people on your website (particularly in your blog if you have one) when you tell the story of a wedding at your venue, that you can host rehearsal dinners and post wedding brunches if they are wanting to make a weekend of it.

Feature it on your social media in particular, where you should source some really powerful images ideally of similar past events or, failing that, elements of what you’ll create or similar examples. Don’t forget that impressive imagery is key to the modern wedding couple.

Have your wedding team ask more delving questions of couples when they meet about how the whole event knits together. While your focus as a venue may be on the higher spending wedding day itself, a couple will need to find a location that ticks all their boxes and your showing interest in helping them put the whole thing together will go a long way, and in many cases reap further revenue opportunities. While you may think clients will ask if they need things, remember that you are dealing with an inexperienced audience who don’t necessarily think like that and don’t know what you can and can’t do, so you need to spell it out.

And remember, the modern wedding couple do so much research now before they even get in touch with you that you need to show them much sooner in the process all the things you can offer on your social media and website to engage them early on. That yummy image of the eggs Benedict might just swing it for you!

Venue Training Day Offer
Do you feel a little lacking in knowledge of modern wedding trends? If you’d like to get up to speed in greater detail on the must-haves for the couple of 2018, and how and where to market to them, then you will enjoy my SHINE wedding workshops taking place on 9 February and 9 March, designed and written especially for ambitious wedding locations like you. The details are here:

Kelly ChandlerAbout the Author
Kelly Chandler is a long-term preferred service provider for exclusive venues such as Syon Park, Highclere Castle, Spencer House and Stoke Park Club. Kelly’s consulting services to wedding venues draw on prior experience in international conference and event planning, over 13 years of business management, and working directly with discerning couples planning their weddings in diverse locations and forging successful relationships with all components of the wedding industry. A former director of trade body, the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners, Kelly is a well-regarded innovator, mentor, trainer and industry spokesperson on and in the wedding business.

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