Top Ten Tips for Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase or Open Day

Marketing Your Wedding Venue, Wedding Open Days and Showcases

Marketing Your Wedding Venue, Wedding Open Days and Showcases

I know a thing or two about designing, planning and hosting venue-based wedding events aimed at couples planning their upcoming wedding. Whether we call it an open day, a showcase or (shudder shudder) a wedding fair, there are certain ingredients that I know really work in delivering superbly attended events, with the right audience finding the right support for their wedding celebrations and I’m sharing my top ten with you today.

1. Focus on showcasing your venue to bring in future business, do not look to make a profit from the hosting of the wedding event itself – this will inevitably mean investing in the event yourself as a venue to create something special but the returns can be more than worth it.

Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting

2. Ask for advice – it’s a team effort. Bring on board experts where you need it to support your in-house team, whether it’s hiring an independent events planner to head up the event (this is what I do for some venue clients) or whether it’s hand-picking the right wedding partners to showcase their products & services, make sure you go with those who know!

Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting

3. Be inspiring – modern couples are long over the idea of turning up to a wedding show to be “sold to” by a group of suppliers flogging their wares from behind an uninspiring white-clothed trestle table. It’s key to really showcase possibilities and give couples an experience and a chance to touch, see, feel, smell and taste elements of their potential wedding; they don’t want a brochure, they want to see samples!

Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting

4. Create a sense of collaboration – to really showcase your venue, you need your team of partners/suppliers to be happy to collaborate with each other and cross over to really create amazing show experiences rather than just sticking to their own little zone leaving an event filled with lots of disparate offerings – styled tables which show a team spirit and the actual teamwork that goes into a wedding day, is a much more captivating offering for couples to see and experience.

Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting

5. Make it interactive – you need to lay on lots of activities, workshops, demonstrations, giving guests an opportunity again to truly experience your venue come alive and the way it can work for their event – all the better if you can lay on specific things which happen in a wedding-day related format. Fashion catwalks are endlessly popular and real crowd-pleasers!

Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting

6. Invest heartily in promotion – there is no getting away from it, it is exceptionally hard to get “bums on seats” and “guests through the door” – you need to spend on local advertising be it a combination of printed, blog and social media alongside any in-house promotion – telling your enquiries or confirmed brides is great and definitely part of the marketing plan but it’s rarely enough for a successful show.

Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting

7. Keep them there – so you’ve gone to the trouble of investing and getting people there, so make sure you want to make them stay to get the full experience. Laying on workshops and demonstrations helps as does offering light food and drinks tastings and/or offering an on-site café with seating. Lots of wedding decisions are made in this way once couples have a few minutes to discuss whilst still “in the zone” but away from the pressure of the wedding professional and/or venue staff. Make sure you signpost your show areas to make it easy for guests to find what they are looking for and have lots of signage and material around the venue to show them “what’s on” during the day.

Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting

8. Treat them well – this is your chance to shine so whilst budgets are always a consideration, do honour the effort that couples are going to in giving up their valuable time to attend your show. Reward them with complimentary drinks or nibbles and ideally a goody bag at the end, consider user-friendly and high quality printed show guides and the like for them to take away and enjoy.

Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler ConsultingHosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting

9. Keep in touch – ensure you capture couples email address and other key details in some way to ensure you can keep in touch and follow up. Whilst you won’t win every piece of business as a venue put yourself in the shoes of your suppliers and take the view of win-win where success for those companies from your show means more of a feel-good factor from them to you. I’m a strong believer in give and take.

Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting

10. Keep it fresh – you might run a successful show once but don’t make the mistake of replicating it exactly. Of course, it’s the less time-consuming option but it’s a massive mistake in the bridal market. Trends/fashions and designs change fast and need to be reflected in your showcase which most professional and creative-minded events professionals will value and want to be on board with but also couples often plan ‘far out’ and will attend venue events more than once – become known as an innovator, not a follower!

Hosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler ConsultingHosting a Winning Wedding Showcase | Kelly Chandler Consulting

If this sounds like the kind of showcase you need but you aren’t sure where to start or how to resource such an ambitious project, then do get in touch. I have headed up the highly innovative ‘Wedding Inspiration’ showcase on behalf of The Dairy and Five Arrows Hotel, Waddesdon, now for the 4th time which has achieved unprecedented success in growing the wedding business for these venues and I’m keen to help other unique venues in similar ways.

If you’re a wedding venue in need of some help for your next event, please get in touch.

Here are the details of the clever and talented preferred suppliers of Waddesdon Manor, the majority of whom are regularly part of their venue show & whose work is featured via the photos in this blog: The Dairy & Five Arrows Hotels

Photo Credits:
Kate Nielen // Stuart Bebb // Xander & Thea

Kelly Chandler Wedding Consulting helps property and land owners thrive by generating profit from hosting weddings. Kelly and team offer specialist private consulting and group training programmes.

Kelly is a well-respected go-to expert in the business of weddings with a unique grasp of both wedding customer expectations and a host venue's commercial needs.

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