Starting a Wedding Venue – 4 Things Wedding Couples Want
Launching A New Wedding Venue
Launching A New Wedding Venue
If you’re thinking of starting up a wedding venue and the significant investment it will entail, you want to know the market inside and out and ensure you’re delivering what wedding customers actually want now and into the next 0-10 years.
Whether you’re converting, renovating, purpose-building or even taking over an existing wedding venue. Here are 4 areas to consider from my experience in supporting hundreds of venues across the UK and further afield with specialist business consultancy and training.
Setting Up a Wedding Venue – Tip 1
It’s all in the getting ready
Long gone are the days when the wedding day starts with the ceremony. The “getting ready” and prep time for both sides of the wedding party is as much of the wedding rite of passage as the ceremony/reception itself.
Those “squad” photos with matching dressing gowns. Clinking glasses of fizz, the anticipatory high-vibes of preparing for what’s ahead and spending quality time before the event has almost become as much a wedding essential as say having professional photos at your wedding.
Smart venues have embraced this in their offering and how they present weddings, often providing a dedicated getting-ready space, increasingly this being beautifully kitted out with mirrors, furnishings, hooks and hangers amongst other facilities.
This has historically been marketed towards the bride. However, progressive venues have recognised that there are two parties involved in a wedding (and that does not always involve a bride of course). Both parties deserve to be treated equally as the VIPS that they are on the day.
More venues looking to keep ahead of expectation are using the opportunity to create and market two separate prep experiences, keeping those gender neutral or gender flexible in most cases.
Starting a Wedding Venue – Tip 2
Look at providing accommodation
Staying over is very much the wedding norm for a vast majority of weddings going into 2023. It’s not tied into necessarily the geography of where couples and guests live and the logistics of being able to travel home. Increasingly, the experience of staying over and extending the wedding experience is highly valued. Couples want their wedding to be longer than a few hours of celebration and the “getting ready”. Staying over with their nearest and dearest is now highly coveted.
Venues have been experiencing this demand for more and more accommodation for quite a few years now and many have added additional capacity to accommodate guests. Whether it’s permanently built bedrooms, rustic-style cabins, shepherd’s huts or temporary pop-up wedding camping or glamping villages.
In my experience, the sweet spot of accommodation is around the 15 to 20 bedrooms mark. For an average wedding size of 80, this is generally easy to fill with bridal party, key family and close friends.
Building a wedding venue – Tip 3
Development of the outdoors
Given a very large thumbs-up during the pandemic, I’m seeing the development of outdoor spaces at an all-time high by progressive venues and in consistent demand by couples.
Outdoor wedding ceremony spaces have long been popular. But, have now been given a much appreciated boost (in England and Wales) by the extension of licensing of registrar-led ceremonies outdoors. This brings the ceremony possibilities a little more in line with much of the rest of the world.
However, it’s the other al-fresco spaces that are getting a lot of focus and attention. I’d urge looking at the likes of :
- The al-fresco bar set-up,
- Outdoor lounge and cabana seating
- Outdoor nooks, cabins, undercover firepits
- The outdoor festival-vibe food stations
- Outdoor play areas, not just for children but for adults too
- Increased use of marquee structures, particularly stretch tents, open-sided sperry tents and transparent roofed marquees. These give flexibility for the weather (with its associated challenges at times!) but still allow an element of outdoors in.
Farms and land-based venues are on the up in terms of demand. You may like a read of this dedicated feature on diversifying a farm business into hosting weddings if this speaks to you – do you have what it takes for your farm to become a wedding venue?
On-trend ceremony spaces
Impressive stand-alone outdoor ceremony spaces that go beyond the simple wooden wedding gazebo and that take in a more bespoke architecturally impressive design such as incorporating unusual angles, pentagons, octagons etc.
Structures that are often built with high ceilings. Using local timber, sometimes a mix of timber, glass and steel for a more industrial look. Sometimes mixing up rustic with glam with the use of internal chandeliers. But importantly an air of permanence and space to host ceremonies with an outdoors-in vibe, whatever the season and weather.
Whilst weather will always be a factor, customers across the world have gotten used to socialising al fresco. They’ve been exposed to some quirky overhead cover. Inventive ways of being outdoors and are now looking for venues that offer this opportunity for their wedding.
Setting up a wedding venue – Tip 4
Smaller weddings – generally considered less than 50 guests – have long been part of the wedding landscape.
The boutique/intimate/micro wedding had a boost during the pandemic out of necessity. Although it has waned somewhat now it is not a trend that’s going away. Couples have been given permission, so to speak, to do things their way even more. Many couples see the benefits of keeping it small but more luxe. And others see it as a way of combatting price rises by inviting less guests. Saving overall budget, particularly on food and drink.
The complete elopement wedding is also seeing a continued boom with couples “escaping”. Generally it’s just the two of them to seal their union and celebrate in their very own style.
Whilst it’s not a model that works for all venues, smart venues are looking at the intimate or elopement wedding more closely. They’re examining how it could complement their existing business.
Although spend on intimate weddings doesn’t necessarily match that of a larger wedding, on a per guest basis it usually does. In terms of a trade-off (regarding team time and input) it can be a profitable option, particularly within certain seasons and off-peak periods.
Expert Support In Starting Your Wedding Venue Business
This and more business trends feature in Business Insights 2024. A 95-page ‘off-market’ insight report written by Kelly Chandler in October 2022 and fully updated in November 2023. It reflects the very latest trends, best practices and topics of relevance to those growing their existing wedding venue business and for those setting up or starting a wedding venue.
With the kind permission of Hannah McClune Photography.
Business Insights Report cover photography by Pippa Mackenzie Photography.
If you enjoyed this post, we recommend the following as additional reading.
free guide:5 Wedding Venue Must-Haves
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