Should our venue work with independent wedding planners?
08 August 2016
It might come as no surprise that I answer ‘yes’ to this question. I am proudly biased as a company owner and wedding planner with my other hat on at The Bespoke Wedding Company.
I am however, still surprised that more venues don’t target wedding planners as a good route for business as I constantly see the success stories of venues who proactively make this part of their business plan. I hope this feature gives you more information on how independent wedding planners tend to work and dispels some of the myths so you can consider if it’s a marketing approach for you:
Aren’t wedding planners only for very high budget and luxury weddings?
Historically yes, but things have changed a lot over the past 5 years in particular – many more planners are offering partial planning services that couples are finding incredibly helpful in giving them support throughout the parts of the wedding that they need it. Examples might be :
Styling and design service – where a planner/designer comes in to help with the visual look of the wedding and sources décor and props for that couple (in line with a huge trend towards couples doing anything but the ordinary).
Partial planning – final 6 weeks service – this is where a wedding planner will come in and review plans made thus far, review the timetable, identify any gaps/issues, help with sourcing any missing suppliers and produce a timetable for the day for distribution to all suppliers. This is a popular service and very useful at that peak time when many couples can get very stressed about the enormity of the day ahead and feel worried about what they might have forgotten.
Venue searching – helping couples at the outset with sourcing the venue or venues which are right for their brief. This one might interest you to know particularly, as venues seeking new business, as planners are in a very strong position to bring clients to your location, clients who might otherwise not have heard of your venue or considered it. Planners (in the sense I refer) are seeking to introduce the client to you because you are the best venue for that client’s wedding, not in exchange for a commission (this is a very different service to a venue find/agent situation). Here’s your repeat business – who would have thought it possible in the wedding market?!
But we have in-house wedding planners and like to control it ourselves?
Understandably we all want clear roles and lack of duplication but the role of a good independent wedding planner should be not only to make their client’s job easier but the venue’s job easier. They are the first port of call for the bride so often can answer key little details that would otherwise be directed to the venue – in-house teams regularly report to me how much less their workload is with myself as a planner on board – good for business surely to be able to resource less your end without reducing service? Of course, the other side of that is being sure that the planner in question is not confusing any issues and promising the un-doable. Ive heard the horror stories. That’s why it’s key to build genuine close relationships with wedding planners you know, trust and like and where you’re comfortable that their approach is a good match to your venue; the more time you invest in them knowing your property the more they can effectively be an unpaid advocate of your venue. Surely worth considering and introducing a small recommended list?
Will the planner want to use their own suppliers?
Yes in most cases because planners spend many months and years building up their tried and trusted teams. Most of the time their wish to use those suppliers is for the same reasons as you. They are reliable, professional and truly excellent at what they do and familiar with the needs of the client type. I recognise that additional site visits might be needed to brief those suppliers on your venue specifics such as access etc (and I know it’s a reason it might be easier for you to use your regular already established suppliers), but trying new (and already vetted) suppliers is highly recommended. I see many venues who do not move with the times and the trends and that’s a dangerous position that does catch up eventually in a decline in bookings. Most planners will bring suppliers of a high quality and will be a welcome addition to your partners, not forgetting that most weddings organised by planners will look beautiful and be very portfolio-worthy for you in showing off your venue via excellent imagery. I should also point out that most wedding planners worth their salt, will understand when you have certain fixed and approved suppliers usually in the areas of catering, marquees, production and fireworks and will work to those.
How do wedding planners make their money?
You may wonder how wedding planners work financially. Every company is different but most modern wedding planners and certainly wedding planner members of the leading industry body UK Alliance of Wedding Planners operate on a fee-only basis paid by the clients and agreed at the start of the project. Commissions/discounts are welcome from venues/suppliers but disclosed and passed back to the clients to ensure complete transparency, something so unique and key to the wedding sector.
If you’d like to know more about independent wedding planners and look to find a small selection in your area, have a look at the website of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners.
Those in the photos are fantastic industry colleagues Valerie Mattinson from Benessamy Events and Melanie Kiani from Bellissimo Weddings, both members of our industry body the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners highly recommended as the first port of call if you’re looking to partner with independent wedding planners in your area.
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